When Rena Effendi went to Transylvania to photograph hay for National Geographic, she envisioned a fairy tale, someplace almost medieval. But when she arrived in the Gyimes valley, she was disappointed. The scenery had been spoiled, she thought, by modern architecture. “I was greedy,” Ms. Effendi said. “I wanted to find the real, bucolic, medieval type of scenery, and I couldn’t find it there.” So she consulted an expert. “I Googled two words: ‘Transylvania’ and ‘hay. Among the first results was Maramures, a Romanian-speaking region where one can find distilleries and mills more than 500 years old. When Ms. Effendi arrived, she fell in love with the “Romanian Transylvanian fairy tale” she discovered. “I found villages where almost all women know how to do embroidery and almost every man knows how to build a house from scratch,” she said. She stayed with a family of musicians in Hoteni, a village of about 800 people. She slept in a wooden house set in a meadow and ate simple meals prepared with fresh produce from an orchard and a small vegetable garden. During two trips, Ms. Effendi spent about two months in the fields, photographing the hay-making process, which begins around 5 a.m. on dry summer days. “People spend the day in the field,” she said. “They take their food, they take naps. You see these women climbing on top of the haystack in special trousers so the wind doesn’t blow up their skirts.” Life moves slowly in the villages of Maramures, all of which are nestled alongside streams. It revolves around hay, which is used to feed the cows that produce the milk that ends up on the table. During hay season, the farmers work by hand, moving at a frantic pace. One couple, Gheorghe and Anuta Borca, told Ms. Effendi their honeymoon had been cut short by hay. “They had to start working straight after the wedding,” she said. (They hadn’t gone far, honeymooning in their village.) Ms. Effendi asked one family why they kept doing what they do, when they could simply go to a market. “They said, ‘Well, what are we going to do with all this land, then?’ ” she recalled. ” ‘It’s just going to sit there?’ ” A farmer in Breb told Adam Nicolson, writing for the July 2013 issue of National Geographic, that houses there had cost six haystacks in Communist times. “Hay is gold,” It is also an art: “You can even guess who the owner is by the shape of a haystack,” she said. “They have their individual styles and forms.” But, while Maramures still has the look of a fairy tale, it is on the verge of vanishing. “You see it in the clothes people wear,” Ms. Effendi said. “You see small signs of this beautiful agrarian culture fading away.” It shows in the architecture — old people live in old homes, while many young families live in cement houses with bathrooms and television. More and more young people are enchanted by European cities. “Transylvania is not yet a fossil,” Mr. Nicolson wrote in the magazine. “It is still alive — just — if in need of life support. But it represents one of the great questions for the future: Can the modern world sustain beauty it hasn’t created itself?” Ms. Effendi didn’t want to use the juxtaposition of old and new to tell the story of Maramures, though. “I wanted to pay homage to the fairy tale,” she said. “I wanted to show the purity of the landscape and the people living there.” She recalled a day she spent with a shepherd, who took her to the tent in the mountains where he spent most of his time, grazing sheep. In the past, women had left him because he was always away. But without a wife, he couldn’t have a family to help him support a flock of his own. “You know what?” he told Ms. Effendi. “If you ask me, ‘What would you choose today, women or sheep?’ I’d still choose sheep.’ ” One woman she photographed, Maria, 23, was pregnant and working in the field when they met. She spoke more English than most villagers and told Ms. Effendi that she and her husband had spent a year in France, where he worked in construction. But she missed their home in the fields, which was made of cement and had a bathroom, and they returned. In Maramures, Maria told Ms. Effendi, she has room for activity of the mind. People in France were preoccupied with the daily distractions of urban life, and they didn’t have any room left for “beautiful thoughts.” ( Source: instituteartist.com – Text: Kerry McDonald ) To buy this beautiful images or to get in touch with the photographer we invite you to visit the links below.