- Hats. Everyone wears hats. The middle-aged and older ladies wear what we would consider to be old-fashioned hats, some are shaped like big pillboxes (remember those from the 1950s?), some are asymetrical in shape, some are huge furry creations that have little tails at the back. The younger women wear cute knitted hats that fit closely to the head, the kind that look great if you have long hair and an unwrinkled face :). I am dying to take some pictures, but feel a little awkward about pointing my camera in their faces, especially if I'm just out on the street. At the Primorsk church a few weeks ago one of the ladies insisted I needed to use her long scarf to put over my head to keep warm. I don't usually wear hats, although I do have several knitted hats. The men wear hats too. Remember seeing on TV in the 70s and 80s pictures of Russian leaders standing outside the Kremlin wearing big fur hats? Well, some men here still wear those hats. I have heard that the best fur is very expensive now. Ten years ago it was much cheaper.
- Coats. Of course everyone wears coats, even me. But the style of coats is interesting. Older women love long, sometimes floor-length coats. They're no fools, they want to keep their legs warm. Lots of women wear fur coats, probably faux-fur, but some look real. The fur coats look like the fur coats of the 1950s-60s. But they also look warm. The younger women usually wear hip-length modern style coats, lots of padded coats, often with hoods that are trimmed with fur. No one has a coat like mine, which I love and which is very warm. It was given to me by Laura, and is pretty much right in style in the U.S. It has a hood too, for which I am very grateful since I don't wear hats much. Some younger women wear long coats trimmed with fur. Fur is very big here. I can understand why, but some of the fur is purely decorative and probably doesn't do much to keep people warm. Besides brown or black fur I have seen purple "fur", red "fur", pink "fur" and blue "fur."
- Cars. I have yet to see shiny clean cars here. The weather tends to keep cars dirty, so why take the trouble to wash them? I guess I have seen one or two clean cars, but it may be that they were dark in color and the dirt didn't show much. A lot of cars are white, and they look utterly filthy on the outside. Whenever I get into a car or bus I am very careful about not brushing up against the vehicle and getting dirty.
- We live across the street from a big school and I watch the children play outside. They don't seem to mind the cold, they are running and talking, sliding on the sheets of ice, just generally doing what kids do in the wintertime. It is in the low 20s outside now and it is noontime here. The kids are outside on their lunch break, seemingly unconcerned about the cold.
- I love the strollers for the babies. They are well padded and have a thick cover that is pulled up over the baby and zipped all around to keep the little ones warm. Of course the babies have blankets over them too. The toddlers are bundled up so heavily that they can hardly walk, let alone run. They have long padded leggings, coats, and thick hats with big flaps that cover their ears and necks. All you can see is their little round faces.
- From my kitchen window I watch people walking down the street in front of the ministry center, probably going to the nearest bus stop. The older people tend to walk slowly in the cold. The young people walk faster, especially when the wind is blowing. The young women who are concerned about being stylish all wear high boots, usually with very high heels but not always. They also wear skin-tight jeans or pants and their hip-length coats. Their legs have to be freezing. The older ladies wear what I would call normal pants, but sometimes they have boots too with medium-high heels. Actually, some of them look pretty classy with their boots, pants, knee-length coats, and the omnipresent hat. Usually their coats are longer though, to the calf at least.
- Everyone takes their shoes off when they enter the house. The winter streets are dirty and slushy, even with fresh snow. And the streets aren't very clean even when the weather is dry. So, like India, shoes come off in the house. Some people keep extra pairs of slippers near the door for their guests to put on to keep their feet warm. I haven't bought any extra pairs yet, but they are on my shopping list. (I have to admit, I keep one pair of shoes that I wear inside. The tile-covered concrete floors demand some better footwear to keep my legs and feet from hurting.)
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I've been thinking about all the interesting things we are seeing here in Berdyansk. I thought I would share a few with you: winter impressions.