Song of Siberia

I wake up not as quite early I used to (around 7 a.m.) to a thicker blanket of snow. There’s no doubt it’s been snowing overnight again. Maybe it is because this is my first Siberian winter, but the beauty outside never ceases to astound me. I hear this beauty will last until April ;). We will see whether I feel the same about snow after living half a year surrounded by it. I’ve decided to take it easy and allow myself to sleep in until 7 instead of the customary 5-5:30 break of dawn. The temperature outside drops to -30C at night which makes getting out of a warm bed to face a wintry day rather challenging. Also, I’ve been detoxing more intensely lately, adding milk thistle oil, raw quail eggs and Russian black radish to my already long list of detox foods, so I feel like I need the extra rest. I’ve been having more vivid, kind of scary dreams this past week as I began the detox. This is quite common when cleansing the liver, or so I’ve read.

I have an English lesson at 11 so I try to get in a good walk with mom and Boss beforehand. Z, our neighbor who happens to be an extremely talented carpenter, comes over and we sketch plans for Boss’s doghouse. So far he’s been sleeping in the entrance way but now it looks like he will have to face the winter outside since he’s been chewing up some floor boards and mom’s afraid our landlady will notice. I was worried about this but a thorough googling session revealed that dogs such as Boss who grow up in this tough climate adapt well to the harsh winter season. Nonetheless, mom is sparing no expense to get Boss a nice, cozy, insulated and quite stylish doghouse built as soon as possible. 🙂

After we settle on the doghouse and also a chair and office desk for me, mom and I set out with Boss in hand. This morning the temperature has dropped to -20C and I can readily feel the bitter wind nip at my face. I cover my face as best I can with a huge scarf, looking very much like a woman out of Saudi Arabia. Boss acts worse than usual, playfully biting at his chain nonstop (he has to be walked on a chain since he chewed through his leash). After about a mile or so of his shenanigans, we drop him off at home and set out in the other direction to get milk. Acquiring raw milk during the cold season is a bit of a problem for many reasons. Stores are always stocked with pasteurized milk but rarely have the good stuff. The nearest market (indoor at this time) is many miles away and it will be a whole day affair to get there and back. Also, cows tend to fall pregnant during this time of the year and the number of cows in this village is scarce anyway. After doing some diligent asking around, mom and I hear of a family selling milk a couple of miles away. We head in that direction. Even a brisk walk is not enough to keep me warm despite numerous layers so we jog as best we can, me with my empty 3 liter jug in my backpack.  Eventually we find the people and get the prized raw milk. I don’t actually drink milk, only in my tea. I have lactose problems and so we make kefir out of milk. We also make cottage cheese and raw whey protein. I’ve found that these 3 are the only types of dairy I can tolerate at this time. On the way back, we stop at a store to get some bones for Boss and hurry back as fast as we can. I thank the heavens I am wise enough to wear 3 pairs of thick socks instead of the customary two as the wind becomes rougher and my boots sink through the snow. Finally we make it home and enjoy a well deserved chicory drink with homemade corn tortillas piled with raw honey. The whole time the milk ordeal takes place, I find myself strangely contented by these so called inconveniences. I encounter the same feeling when I wash my clothes by hand and when I help mom lug the firewood to heat the banya. It feels good to feel so close to the land and to do things on my own; I feel grounded. Gone are the days of driving to the nearest store, putting my milk carton in the shopping cart and wheeling the shopping cart to my car, then driving back home. Gone are the days of washing machines, dishwashers, television, and guaranteed electricity. Here in Siberia, you never know what inconveniences you might encounter from day to day. Sometimes (or rather several times per week), the power goes out because it rained and the water froze the power lines. Other times mean, homeless village dogs bark and bare their teeth at you, making you shuffle out of their way. Maybe Boss will pull so hard you lose your footing on the icy road and fall face first into the snow. Water may stop running for some reason. The firewood could be wet and you can’t heat the banya. Boss may chew through your best jacket and you don’t know where in the world to go shop for something that is not the crappiest export out of China (by the way, Russia is full of crappy exports from China, so much so that when a product malfunctions, there is a phrase to describe it “Kitaeskoe”-or “Chinese made.”) Basically, you never know where the road will lead you. So what if the road you’re walking on is frozen and you have to dodge drunk drivers along the way? You’re still going somewhere, doing something. And life becomes meaningful again. 

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