On 2 September, delegates of the Garden of Geniuses travelled from Moscow to Yasnaya Polyana where the festival continued. The unspoilt beauty of Leo Tolstoy's museum estate at Yasnaya Polyana provides a stark contrast with the crazy traffic grid-locked streets of Moscow city with its population of nearly 11 million.
At the estate the atmosphere is one of complete serenity. The landscape - which has changed little over the last hundred years - makes you feel as though you could bump into Tolstoy at any time, a feeling which becomes even stronger as you go round his house which is preserved today exactly as it was on the day he died in 1910. To see the very things Tolstoy used, the office where he wrote Anna Karenina, the books he covered extensively with handwritten notes, the bed he slept in, etc., provides a very direct connection with the man and his work.
At the end of our tour, Galina Alekseeva the Head of Academic Research Department at the museum told us about the story of the 'little green stick'. When Leo's brother Nikolai was 12, he told his family that he possessed a wonderful secret that could make all men happy, a secret which would mean that no one would ever die, that there would be no war or suffering. Nikolai added that he had written the secret on a little green stick and buried it at the edge of the ravine in Yasnaya Polyana. As a boy Tolstoy truly believed in the power of the green stick, and tried many times to find it. The allure of the little green stick and its ability to make all people everywhere happy stayed with Leo and in his old age he asked his family to bury his body without ceremony in a simple wooden coffin at the site of the little green stick. It was a very moving experience and one which I will never forget.