Winter is here. Finally.
On the morning of September 15, I awoke to fog. It was kind of thin but it gave that nice, cosy feeling to the place that only fog can give. It dissipated within a couple of hours and didn’t return until October 19, when it was more than thin and stayed a little longer, giving me an inkling of what it would be like when the real Yakutsk fog came: the Yakutsk fog of legend that I’ve been hearing about, a fog so thick that you can’t see a building right in front of you. I waited in anticipation for it.
Between October 19 and November 21, the fog came again a few times but didn’t stay for long; it would dissipate by midday. But last Tuesday, the fog came for real and apparently the winter came with it. If someone hadn’t told me that winter is officially here, I wouldn’t have known since the temperature was the same as it had been for days before. So I’m now given to understand that winter has officially arrived when the temperature is below -30⁰C and the real fog comes.
I think the deep fog is still to come because I can still see objects a little ways ahead but the one we’ve been having one and off since last week is no joke either. The street I live on is about four hundred metres from the stoplight at one end to the stoplight at the other end. I live and work at about the halfway mark. Standing in front of school on a foggy morning, I can’t see the stoplights at either end of the road. Because my attention is fully occupied by my classes and other work, I don’t usually notice when the fog goes away but I suspect that it lingers until just after midday.
Meanwhile, there are other indications of winter; the lack of sunshine is one of them. The days have noticeably shortened. Sunrise is now somewhere around 9 am when I’m already starting my first class of the day. Suffice it to say, I really have to bring the energy for my first class of the day because many of my students at that time act like they should still be in bed. Sunset is somewhere around 3 pm. I don’t usually notice the sunset because I’m always in class at that time. So I leave home for work when the sun is just rising and I get home long after it’s already dark because the sun stays up for around six hours. The sunlight hours will get shorter as the winter progresses.
Thankfully, I don’t find myself suffering any ill-effects from the shorter days. Common knowledge tells us that some people are predisposed to depression from the lack of sunlight. I’m not such a person. I’ve always enjoyed inclement weather over sunshine and that preference is serving me well now. When I wake up, it’s still dark although it’s my usual wake up time, but I get my day started the same as always, usually with the same energy as always. Some days, I sleep a little later but usually on my days off or on the one working day I have that starts in the early afternoon. That later sleeping is not due to the darkness of the day or my body still thinking that it’s night; it’s usually because I’m tired from my long and high-energy days and just need an hour more of sleep.
Another thing I’ve noticed as winter has crept upon us is that the number of cars around has dwindled. Most people have put their cars away for the winter. As I understand it, they remove the engine, keep it someplace warm so that it won’t freeze up – which apparently spells death for an engine – and store the car away somewhere. When I just arrived here at the end of summer, the parking lot of my building was jam packed with cars every night and morning. I (poorly) estimate that there were near a hundred cars out there. As I’m writing this, there are eleven cars parked out there and only one isn’t covered. Everyone is taking taxis and buses or walking everywhere now.
Now, having talked last time and today about the temperature and the fact that winter is officially here, I’m just letting you guys know that you shouldn’t expect a lot of pictures from me over the next few months. I’ll take a few but not the volume I usually take. Seriously, I can’t take my hands out of my gloves long enough to do that and a few pictures isn’t worth frostbite. I hear that you never fully recover from that. So on my walkabouts I still snap one or two pictures here and there but rarely.
I’ll keep you posted as the winter deepens.