12 March 2008


A friend asked me to write about the spring in Russia. I touched on it last year in this post, but started mulling it over. How do Russians feel about the oncoming of spring? I'd say...skeptical.

Our winters are typically long and dark here in St. Petersburg. Last winter was mild and this winter was even milder. We don't have the frozen layer of snow (that reveals all sorts of unsavory things when it melts--litter, dead animals, feces...) this year. We might miss some of the gluey mud that adds an inch to your height with every step because there's less to melt. So, without the usual signs of spring, how will we know it's here?

If my Russian friends run true to form (and there's no reason to suspect they won't) we'll know spring has arrived when it's clearly SUMMER. Until then, until the grass is green, the lilacs are blooming and the days are becoming unbearably long, we'll just to see if spring arrives.

Really. That's the way it works. And, I guess it makes sense. Last Monday it was gorgeous--14C! It was sunny and everything in my flat got cleaned down to my curtains which were washed, ironed and re-hung. (Of course, it was Women's Day and the government always arranges nice weather for holidays. Well, they did during Soviet times. Since then, people have just looked back fondly on the times the government would implant the clouds with the proper secret-weather-stuff to ensure a nice day. I kid you not--this is believed.) Tuesday was nice in the afternoon--so nice second grade had no homework so they could play outside. Wednesday it snowed. It's still spitting snow. So...it's not mud season yet.

Ramble, ramble, ramble.

Did it help, S? No one is searching for crocus. No one is stepping lightly or doffing coats. (I was scolded for wearing my lightest coat to school. I had a hat, so they let me off with a warning.) I truly think that rejoicing in the oncoming of spring is viewed in much the same way smiling is. The common thought on smiling is, "What do you have to smile about?" The common thinking on spring is, "You never know. It might not last. It will probably snow again. I've heard it's supposed to get really cold next week."

Not a very happy, butterfly-filled post...the butterflies will be here in summer.


Maggie said...

It's a very Russian post. Very Russian indeed.

When I hosted Peanut, the escort that came with the kids commented about one of the other parents once. Her comment was "She smiles for no reasons. Is there something mentally wrong with her?"

Hee! She wasn't being mean either. She was just concerned about the boy that was staying in my friend's home. (My friend is just friendly, outgoing, and quite happy. Far from mentally ill.) We all thought it was pretty hilarious.

Tami said...

So very true.

Tina in CT said...

So true from what my daughter has always told me too.

Spring is rapidly approaching here in southern New England as the snow is melted and daffodills are up about 4 inches next to the concrete front steps. When I can start hanging my clothes out on the line all the time, I'll know it's really here.

Christine said...

What a neat post. I can't believe some of the superstitions the Russians have. Have a great week!

Jenni said...

I remember when we were in Russia, our translator told us, "Russian love to suffer." Your post certainly seems to support that assertion!

Rachael said...

We had one funny little taste of "spring" in Russia when there for court last March. One (relatively) warm, sunny day, we went walking along the Neva and were quite surprised to see some very interesting middle aged sunbathers catching some rays against the walls outside Peter and Paul Fortress. There were still chunks of ice floating in the river, but they were all stripped down in their glory. It was so very odd. Our Igor said that is sign of spring in Russia.

votemom said...

very interesting... and quite sad.
thanks for writing this for me. spring is in the air here in michigan. we cleaned out the incredibly dirty garage on saturday. the boys inflated all the flat basketballs and soccer balls so we're ready for warm air and sunshine.

thinking of you - a lot.

kim said...

Anna asked me about "Woman's Day" here last week... I had never heard of it, but it was listed on the Canadian calendar I have. She said they "celebrate" it in Russia.

Also, our translator swears that they fly some planes with this chemical to clear out the clouds for a day if they are having a big outdoor event. She said it is very unhealthy b/c all of the chemicals rain down?????

MoscowMom said...

You nailed it!!!!!! For me, spring is when Gorky Park opens... The first week of May. That said, the girls usually still have to wear thick tights and a coat to school until the very end of May... Certainly not "springy" by American standards!