22 December 2008

The Winter Solstice in St Petersburg

TThe winter solstice is a good time to look at how decreasing light and colder weather affects people in St. Petersburg. I`ve been sleeping longer and more soundly... a sort of hibernation. With less than six hours of light the day flies by. We have breakfast before sunrise, consisting of oatmeal, toast with cheese, and tea. I check news on the internet, and then we bundle up for a walk in Udenya Park, shop at Season, and return for abed, the meal Russians have around 2 PM . This time of year we have dark, twilight, and dark again with rarely any sunshine. I'm researching if the weather has deteriorated in SPB with the exponential growth of car traffic and increased pollution. As far as I know there are no exhaust tests on any vehicles. It seems we are in an area inclined to temperature inversions, a lot of rain and snow, and resulting unhealthy weather.
Russians tell me June 1 marks the beginning of summer and December 1 the beginning of winter. This is unscientific but reflects how seasons work here. Our summer on the Volga usually lasts June and July and then with August the water turns colder and we often slide into bad weather. Natives of "Peter" or Leningrad love the ideal winter of snow on the ground and a steady -5 degrees, which they view as healthy and pretty. Certainly the air is cleaner after a snowfall and much of the unsightliness is covered until a thaw.
Reading novels and time in the kitchen keep my spirits up, but admittedly this can be a difficult time what with relatives far away and no longer attainable daydreams of Christmas often surfacing. I tried to buy some holiday music but found none, so thought of internet radio... which has plenty! I hope any readers of this have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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