Last week in Moscow has seen winter kick into high gear with near-daily snow showers and nighttime temperatures dropping to -15C. But Moscow weather is also rather mercurial, and in-between the blizzards we have gotten bits of sunshine and warming to the balmy 0C (32F). Snow melts, grey slush takes over everything – and then promptly re-freezes, turning the city into a giant ice skating rink.
City services try to keep up, dousing every sidewalk and pathway with toxic salt that erodes away everything: ice, boots, pets’ paws – but the roads stay clean and safe. Not a bad deal, overall. I’ve actually been enjoying the change from all that November greyness. Until last Sunday.
Every weekend I take the Metro to the end of the south-bound line for my horseback riding lessons. The stables are a 5-7 minute walk from the metro stop, on the edge of a residential neighborhood, and the paved path goes uphill through the park and along picturesque church grounds.
Well, on Sunday, there was no path – just an open white plane with some shrubs sticking out here and there. Somehow, over the same time period, this neighborhood managed to get three times more snow than the Center, and nobody bothered to take a shovel or the chemicals to it.
Not one to be deterred easily (and not having a lot of options) I decided to carry on where the path once was, only to discover that hiding just underneath that fresh white powder there was a thick layer of ice – clear, smooth and really freaking slippery! Did I mention that I had to walk uphill? Instead, I was suddenly sliding downhill and backwards! I had no other choice but to trudge across knee-deep snow banks, arriving at my lesson 15 minutes late (because the 7-minute walk took me almost 20) and with wet feet.
At least the return trip was going to be easier, because I could just slide downhill, right? Not so much. There’s a reason I don’t ski or snowboard, and that reason is that I have no balance. This was confirmed as soon as I made half a dozen very careful steps on the icy path, and promptly butt-planted into a pile of snow.
As this was the weekend after Thanksgiving, I finally decided to embrace the spirit of the holiday, and be grateful for those usually overlooked but crucial benefits of living in the warm, salted, slushy Center, such as the ability to walk in the winter without hurting oneself. It’s really all about the little things in life.