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You hate it at first, but then it grows on you somehow... My first Russian winter, two years ago, was awful – i was freezing whatever warm clothes i wore, i couldn’t walk on  trodden snow, i hated it all! Mind you, i come from a country with Mediterranean climate where winters are mild and it hardly ever snows. I remember clearly a discussion from couple of years ago – on a forum for expats in Russia where “veterans” claimed they loved it – and us, the newbies, were posting one horror tale after another… I thought back then that the foreigners raving about Russian winter were downright insane, it was beyond me how could anyone like to be freezing several months in a row, to be incapable of walking any what faster than a tortoise (i dare you to try!) , to wear layers and layers of clothes… I did think them mad.

My third winter in Russia, believe it or not – i couldn’t wait for the snow to fall, i couldn’t wait for the real winter to start! I grew not only to love it – i became addicted to it! Ours back home is not really a winter!

The first snowfall this year was heavy – and all my friends and family were concerned how i am doing here, my mother suggested i don’t go out for several days… The very first evening i went to the nearby park with a friend and i felt like a kid in the candy store! It’s wonderful, the feeling of the frost pinching your cheeks, the freshness of the air, the whiteness of the snow… It’s breathtaking indeed!

I used to look in disbelieve at Russian girls who wore no caps and gloves – and had only a teeny jacket on the top; my typical outfit during first winter here was the following: wool tights and leggings under the jeans; sweatshirt and wool pullover over the wool t-shirt (worn over a cotton one so to avoid skin rushes); thermally insulated long jacket, Geox boots for high snow (and an additional pair of wool socks over the wool thighs!); an ushanka / Trapper’s hat, long wool shawl and gloves… Needless to say, i resembled … a bear. I’d faint now if i wore half of those garments – they were long ago passed to the next countrymate of mine who arrived to Russia and was adapting – and she told me she too passed them forward; second winter in the row no one needs any of those.

That being said, the biggest holiday in Russia is still the New Year, Christmas – due previous communist longterm ban on it – has not yet gained the importance and popularity it has in the West; thus Christmas tree is called New Year’s tree, Santa Claus is Uncle Frost and he has a lovely granddaughter slash helper -Snegurochka (Снегу́рочка; IPA: snʲɪˈgurətɕkə), or The Snow Maiden:
Vasnetsov Snegurochka

 Snow Maiden (1899) by Victor Vasnetsov.

It turned out that the pictures of the abandoned construction site were the last ones i took before the snow, here they are as from now on, until the spring, everything will be covered with dear to my heart “white blanket”.

Also, note the beginning of infamous “probki” – the rush hour which last forever -at Volgina street; a Russian blogger i love following wrote about it recently in the entry titled “Hopeless”.

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All in one: funny facade of the “all-in-one” mall on my street: business center, groceries, pharmacy, internet cafe and whatnot:

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Abandoned construction site turned urban graffiti gallery, near Kaluzhskaya metro:
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And, TADA – the photos of first “serious” snow of this winter:

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In previous entry i posted about great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin; here is his amazing poem “Winter morning” in English translation (from: russianlegacy.com – sadly the translator is not credited), enjoy!

Cold frost and sunshine: day of wonder!
But you, my friend, are still in slumber -
Wake up, my beauty, time belies:
You dormant eyes, I beg you, broaden
Toward the northerly Aurora,
As though a northern star arise!

Recall last night, the snow was whirling,
Across the sky, the haze was twirling,
The moon, as though a pale dye,
Emerged with yellow through faint clouds.
And there you sat, immersed in doubts,
And now, – just take a look outside:

The snow below the bluish skies,
Like a majestic carpet lies,
And in the light of day it shimmers.
The woods are dusky. Through the frost
The greenish fir-trees are exposed;
And under ice, a river glitters.

The room is lit with amber light.
And bursting, popping in delight
Hot stove still rattles in a fray.
While it is nice to hear its clatter,
Perhaps, we should command to saddle
A fervent mare into the sleight?

And sliding on the morning snow
Dear friend, we’ll let our worries go,
And with the zealous mare we’ll flee.
We’ll visit empty ranges, thence,
The woods, which used to be so dense
And then the shore, so dear to me.

A.S. Pushkin (1799-1837)