Everyone here says this winter has been exceptionally snowy. For that, I’m actually glad. Without snow, winter here seems to be very brown, gray, and somewhat gloomy. A good snowfall, however, gives our town an austere charm and turns my daily walk to school into an arctic trek.
This February especially, snowfalls came one after the other, leaving us a good foot or two for weeks on end. Narrow trails all over town were quickly stamped flat by lots of us walkers taking the path of least resistance. The roads were pressed into glaciers. Occasional days above freezing followed by more fresh powder crusted and stratified the undisturbed snow, so that at times you could walk on top of the “fresh” snow as though you were wearing snowshoes. Getting around wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t really treacherous except for a few times when the trails melted on a warm day and then froze overnight.
We’re all ready for spring now, even though it means suffering through a few weeks of slush and mud. The sky is sometimes blue, now, and the sun makes regular appearances again. The bare brown earth is visible again, but I think some of these glaciers may stick around for a couple more months.
One fun thing we did at the end of January was attend a Peace Corps “language refresher.” It was a 4-day long Russian language training with other PCVs from our group and the previous group in the northeastern city of Chernihiv. We managed to make a 9 day trip out of it, including a weekend in Kyiv with our cluster-mates, a visit with our host family, and another weekend seeing the sites in Chernihiv. The biggest problem was that we wound up doing all this during the coldest week of the year; the high temperatures averaged around 0〫F! Nonetheless, we had lots of fun with our friends and really enjoyed exploring a new city. The training itself was really helpful, and, of course, we always have a good time with other PCVs!
Spring finally appears to be on its way (although we still have inches of snow and ice on the ground in places), the sun shines brighter and longer each day (the vernal equinox is tomorrow!), and everyone’s spirits are slowly lifting in anticipation of warmer weather (anything above 40 is considered warm these days). So, it’s time to get you caught up on winter in Ukraine.
First in our Winter Wrap-Up series: Ukrainian kids. We have come to the conclusion that kids in Ukraine are the cutest beings on the planet. Ukrainian parents don’t let the winter stop them from taking a stroll with the kids. If the temperature drops below 60, they just stuff their children into enormous coats, hats with ears, and baby carriages with enough padding to protect the kid from a 7-story drop. Picture Ralphie’s brother Randy in A Christmas Story, and you have the right image. These kids can barely manage to waddle along next to their parents, so out come the sleds. Words cannot convey the appropriate amount of cuteness, so please sit back and enjoy our pictures.