Often when people think of Ukraine, images of snow, ice and bitter cold instantly come to mind, and prior to coming to this country, I also imagined that winters were something like that. And to an extent, last year's winter did not do much to break down that stereotype.
Now, I'm from a Midwestern state where I became accustomed to snowy winters. So when I learned I'd be heading to Ukraine, there were things that I made me a bit apprehensive, but winter wasn't one of them.
|Here's my training site Chernihiv after the first snowfall. So pretty and yet so deceptive!|
But regardless of today's 'balmy' weather, I know one thing for sure – the snow and winter and ice and the slipping and the hats and the gloves and the thermal underwear and the boots … it's coming.
So you might be wondering – what is one of the differences between a Ukrainian winter and a Midwestern winter? Well, let me give you an example:
Every morning, I have a 25-minute walk to school from my dormitory. On my way, I often walk in a parade of students also headed to school.
Once, I was running a bit late (surprise), and was in a hurry. So I tried my best to hop from one solid ice patch to the other and in turn, effectively dodge the 4-5 inch slush puddles on our road to school.
About 5 minutes into the journey, I had been relatively successful, and my feet were only damp, not soaked. I had learned early that winter that my "waterproof boots" from Cabela's were only lightly water-resistant.
So, after achieving some measure of success, I took my focus off the ground immediately in front of me and decided to look ahead.
|This is about a half of a block away from fence-walking incident|
In this section of the road, there were no icy patches for hopping. There was only a small, slanted icy strip that ran alongside the fence. The only way to successfully make it to flat, solid ice again was to turn sideways, cling to the wire fence with both hands and shimmy my way down the rest of the block.
Of course, the female students walking in front of me were able to do so with grace and flair and in 3-inch high heel boots. All the while, I – and my no-nonsense flat brown boots – shimmied with the grace of a gorilla.
The worst part happened when I began to lose my balance midway through the journey. To avoid falling completely in the slush puddle, I had to put my left foot down. This meant submerging my foot into icy cold water that stopped at the bottom of my calf.
As we say in Ukraine, "Oy."
Look for more stories like this in the coming months. Hilarity and hijinks seem to follow me around Ukraine. :)