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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Isnt Boring Weather Boring?
Text Linda Lippner

As I write this, we are in the midst of another year of ho-hum winter weather in Moscow. Im sorry, but I didnt come to Moscow for a temperate winter.

I came to see if I could pit myself against the winter elements and survive to tell the tale, at least to my amazed friends back home who wonder why I wanted to experience 9 months of winter. You see, many people back at home, particularly in the southern part of the country, are convinced that Moscow winters start in September and end after May. Well, in the bad old days of real Russian winters, maybe they did!

Two winters ago we did indeed have some weather to write home about. Actually we didnt have to write home about it since all the world press was talking about Moscow suffering temps in the minus 20s C. It lasted only about 8-10 days but I made the most of it by nodding over the phone as I talked to my friends back home about how it was dangerous to go outside and you could see crystals of moisture in the sparkling sunny air, (yes there was lots of sunshine on those staggeringly cold days!) and if you were caught in a little wind chill to add to the weather factor YOU COULD DIE OUT THERE! It was interesting to have body parts such as your nose feel very, very strange as your nose inevitably became a little runny in the cold and then the runny more or less froze on your face. And wearing the ski pants over my regular pants; I felt like a stuffed grey bear with so much down and padded polyester fabric keeping me warm. Actually, I felt like I was 5 years old again, when my mother would get me dressed for the winter snowstorm in our town and I could hardly move, much less get up after I fell into a snow drift, since I had so many layers of clothing on.

And speaking of snow drifts: we can speak of them but we sure arent seeing them in Moscow this winter. A few grayblack hillocks of frozen and re-frozen ice are piled alongside the city streets, but hardly anything to get excited about. Recently, a trip to a country dacha was planned with friends and we hoped to see some fresh white stuff. After picking ourselves carefully over the melted and re-melted ice, we gave up on a nice country walk since each step was an anticipation of a short ski drop to the ground. The snow in the woods was pretty indeed but not fun to walk over as we kept falling through the crusty top layer and turning our ankles. Evidently, the country was also not getting much snow either this winter.

Could it be that Global Warming has come to Moscow? Sadly, ice skating and cross-country skiing may be replaced by water-skiing on the river and winter hang-gliding off the top of the ski-jump at Sparrow Hills. We will hope that things dont go that far in the years to come and that we get a bit of snow before spring flowers begin to bud.

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