21 December 2011

Winter Glory

Moscow's weather has been a puzzle as of late.  By "as of late," I mean for the past few years.

My wife was born and grown in Moscow.  Her years of local weather experience always translates to the following advice to tourists who are eager to experience the Russian winter:  "Come in December, January, or February.  Avoid November and March because those months are not cold enough, meaning that there will be lots of slush and mud on the roads."  My friends who were also born and grown in Moscow agree with my wife's advice.  Years of predictable winter experience by Muscovites has made this advice into a sort of a latent wisdom.

 Word from the Wise:  Avoid This

But that advice would not have worked for the past few years.  Until today, 21 December, which is just one day short of the Winter Solstice and hence the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere, Moscow was too warm to be covered in a snow blanket.  Pedestrians, like me, slogged through soggy and wet streets for some of October, all of November, and most of December.  Today we are treated with a wonderfully beautiful snowstorm.  White is everywhere, and the quality of openair sound has changed as it always does when abundant snow muffles the background hum.

A More Beautiful, Quieter Day

A note for American friends:  Despite the fantastic snowstorm, Moscow is humming along just fine.  Schools are open, work places are running, and traffic is flowing just as erratically as ever.  In similar conditions, any major US metropolitan area would have been crippled.  Indeed, Russians are a rugged and hearty bunch.

How Do You Say "Light Snow" in Russian?

At last, winter glory is in Moscow.  The only question is why it took so long to get here this year.  A good friend, and a Moscow native, said in passing two nights ago that "every winter seems to be getting warmer here."  I hope not.

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