Friday, March 22, 2013

Deep snow

Last Friday a huge snowstorm blew into Minsk, bigger than most people could ever remember. The Belarus Digest has an interesting and complete story about the storm itself, so I won’t go into much detail here except to say that we got well buried.

Alla and I went out the next day on cross-country skis. The sun shined and we got plenty of exercise, but we didn’t go fast because our skinny skis sank too deeply into the fluffy snow. I don’t know where Belarus Digest got the impression that total snowfall amounted to 20 cm. I would have said more like 20 inches on average, and in places the wind piled it much deeper. For example, we didn’t see any park benches on our ski trek because they were all buried, and in some places the wind had piled the snow even above the accompanying trash cans, about waist high.

I walked across a field on Sunday afternoon, optimistically imagining that somehow somebody else’s ski tracks would support my weight. They did not. With each step, my foot plunged down to knee level. In a couple of areas, my steps plunged down to thigh level. My boots were pretty snowy by the time I got to the road and the moisture wicked all the way down to the toes of my socks.

My friend Yulia had a worse go of it. She got stuck at her grandmother’s place in a remote village and spent the storm shoveling out the chicken coop every two hours. It sounds like she got a lot more snow than we did. Then after the storm stopped she spent a couple of boring and lonely days remembering her warm room in the city. Finally her dad figured he could drive out in his Jeep and rescue her, but he ran out of drivable road too far from the village. Intent on getting her home, he called a friend in another village nearby. As I heard the story, the conversation went something like this:

Dad: Do you still have a horse?
Friend: Yes.
Dad: How about a sleigh?
Friend: Yeah, I’ve got a sleigh too.

Dad talked his friend into hitching up the sleigh and going to rescue his daughter in the other village. Apparently it wasn’t terribly far away, and the trip might have taken ten or fifteen minutes in the car. The horse and sleigh required more than a couple of hours, and the horse wasn’t too happy about it. In the end, the horse refused to go any farther and Yulia had to wade through the snow to meet them.

I think it’s a great story. Who else do you know who has access to a horse and sleigh? I wonder if she thought to get a picture.

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