Monday, 19 March 2012

Spring in Russia

Today the temperature went up to 4 degrees Celsius. Spring is here and the snow is beginning to melt, which means it is time to un-sellotape the windows in my room. In January when the temperature first went down to -20, my roommate and I duct-taped all round the windows. This didn't stop the cold air getting in, so we then tried to insulate all round the windows using foam sticks they sell here for that purpose. That didn't work either, so we papered over the worst-offending window with newspaper, again without much success, except to deepen the already permanent gloom in the place. Finally, facing a choice between light and warmth (I was already sleeping under 13 layers at this point, and it was still getting colder), we sellotaped the curtains together and to the wall. We unstuck the curtains sometime in February, and today, we opened the window for the first time since December. This may sound gross, but you have no idea how cold it gets here - it went down to -35, which is the coldest I have ever experienced. Anyway, all the Russians do it too (probably without the curtains bit), so it wasn't just us being pathetic.

The authorities here have been preparing for the melt as well. People have been breaking up the top layers of snow (presumably to increase the surface area), and for some reason they have also been slicing off the front part of the snow blocks that cover all the flower beds, so there is a gap between the snow and the metal railings that delineate the flower beds from the pavement. I have seen people do this so I know it is happening, but I am not sure why. Trying to allow air to get to the soil? Trying to ensure when everything melts it goes into the soil and not all over the pavement?

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