I Miss the Snow down in Belarus…

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Snow falling in Mink (www.apartmentinminsk.com)

There is a snow drought in Colorado. It has also been unseasonably warm. Everything is dry and brown, dusty and brittle. This is not normal. Or maybe, even more disturbing, this may be the new normal. I have been trying hard not too complain about this to everyone and all — and I try to restore hope by looking at my phone’s weather app — that there is snow or rain somewhere out there. I saw that it is raining in London, and has been for a while. I am jealous, so much so that I go to sleep by playing the sweet, sweet sounds of rain or thunderstorm on my phone next to me. I have tried the sounds of snow, but outside of a blizzard’s howling winds, the sound of snow is really not much sound.

This lack of cold and lack of snow is especially depressing to me, in comparison to the winters of my childhood.

Growing up in Minsk, our winters were worthy of the name “Russian Winter” (or Belorussian, in this case). You know, the “Dr. Zhivago” winters that stopped Napoleon, and was another weapon against the Germans as well. The winters were very cold, although I have no recollection of ever being cold myself, and they were snowy. How cold and how snowy? In school, in the winter months, we had cross-country skiing in the curriculum. I had my own pair of little skis, and little poles. I guess, looking back, they weren’t little for me — they were my size.

I loved being outside in the winter. I loved it so much, one of my clearest memories is my mother chasing me, as I tried to ski away from her because she wanted me to come in but I wanted to keep on playing in the snow. I also loved playing hockey. They would flood the soccer field behind our apartment or we would pour buckets of water on the ground of the little park behind my grandparents’ apartment, and had an instant rink. I took great pride in going toe to toe with the boys and being “kissed” by a puck on the head. Don’t worry, I was fine. … uhh, did I mention I’ve been kissed by a puck on the head?

I remember the pure white of everything when the snow fell. The white sky, and the large snowflakes floating down, and the snow already on the ground — and me, twirling, laughing and trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue, feeling them tickle my cheeks. The falling snow brings a different type of silence — a hush, and then the crunchy sound of stepping on new, crisp snow. And I remember how happy I felt, the laughter bubbling out of me, this glorious feeling of being surrounded by absolute beauty.

Not just beauty — perfection. Now, in the winter when it’s snowing, this feeling returns. In the snow and cold, it’s like the outside matches what is inside of me, a piece of the puzzle that fits perfectly. Corny as it may sound, but this kind of weather completes me.

And before anyone would say, “Well, sure, you were born in Minsk, no wonder you like that kind of weather,” I would like to make a case of my mother. She, too, was born in Minsk. Yet for her, laying on the beach and soaking up warmth and sunshine is heaven. She has always been a sun worshiper, and looking at me, she is fond of saying, “If you didn’t look so much like me, I would swear that there was a mix up in the hospital when you were born.” That is how completely different we feel about the weather.

I don’t really miss a damn thing about Minsk. I can barely recall the faces of my friends, although I used to dream about them when we first emigrated. The Minsk of my childhood is gone, anyway. There is no little park any more across from the apartment where my grandparents used to live, no more Cinema Belarus — a tiny cinema where you could see a film for 10 kopeks (cents). I don’t ever want to visit the Minsk of today, with the subway that was only a vague rumor 40 years ago, probably a McDonald’s or two, and a couple of chi chi stores where anyone could buy anything, as long as it’s for dollars.

But, damn it, I sure miss those winters.

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