A taste of Siberia

The polar winds have brought us a taste of the Siberian tundra. The snow glistens and glitters on the rolling Saxon hills, looking like dunes in the desert. We move across one of the fields, the smallest two children being pulled on the sleigh and the oldest child learning to cross-country ski for the first time. Every now and then he lies in the snow with his legs and skis crossed. There is a happy din in the silent snow. We, the parents, trudge through the thick snow. The sun bathes us in its golden light and warms us, even threatens to burn us. The sky is blue and the landscape is picturesque all the way to the distant horizon in Bohemia. To play in a morsel of Siberia, together, to us a mirthful moment, but it is not enjoyed without considering the hardship of those who live and toil in the real Siberia.

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12 thoughts on “A taste of Siberia

  1. As I read your lovely sketch of your family and your comparison with Siberia, I remembered Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and one of his books I read many years ago, which left a significant imprint on my memory. “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” was about how he had to serve his sentence in the Gulag system, including if I recall a spell in one of the labour camps in Siberian Russia. Wherever it was it was always the frozen Arctic wastes of Siberia that created this awful image, for millions of people who were forced to serve their time in the labour camps, of there being no return from that frozen inhospitable world.

    Even in the -5 deg we have had here in past few days, the biting cold reminded me of of how much worse it is in continental Europe – where you are – where temperatures are much lower. Trasnmute this experience to Northern Siberian tundra and severe permanent frosts plus bone chilling winds, without the comfort of knowing you can withdraw into the comfort of your own heated home, hos much worse could it get.

    Thanks for reminding us in a very subtle way, Q. I wonder what goes on up there now that the Gulag System is (in theory) no more?

    • Thank you, John, for your comment about the Gulag system. Siberia is a harsh place. I’m reading a book at the moment “White Fever” about how a Polish journalist (Jacek Hugo-Bader) made his lone way through Siberia in the winter and he describes what life is like there. Even though the Gulag system is officially gone, there are a lot of bandits there, corruption, alcoholism, road carnage and disease.

  2. I don’t think I could ever survive that sort of cold. It’s been bad enough here with the biting wind this week. Brrrr…..Must have been truly awful. I loved your ‘family’ moment though…sounded a lot of fun. 🙂

  3. I miss the snow, and this family snapshot in beautiful prose gives my soul a vital breath of it. I also relate to Poet Janstie’s comment. I was spell-bound by reading “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” as a child. The other-worldly tedium described in the words of Solzhenitsyn opened a door to a universe I hadn’t known existed.

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