Saturday, January 11, 2014

Siberian Winter

This winter is not very typical for Siberia. (And yes, Siberia is an enormous area - so there are a lot of variations in the climate.) Typically, we would get a lot of snow in the winter time. But not this year. There is not so much snow, and my parents worry that their vegetable garden will not survive the winter very well. Here is the hope that snow is on the way, and all the trees and bushes will be nice and warm under a snow cozy blanket (well, it is cozy to them!).

I received these photographs taken by my Dad and my Mom recently, in mid-December of 2013. Email has been the main way of communication between us for almost 12 years now, and since we all are quite writers in our family, we do enjoy emails. It's not even funny, what writing means to me... Both my Mom and my Dad write very well, and Mom even accomplished writing a history of the little village where she is from which she did from scratch, doing research by herself, gathering photos and documents, and finally writing the story which I helped her to edit and put into a web site Angara. Tatarka (Tatarka is a name of the village, and Angara is a beautiful river in Siberia where the village was founded in the late 1930s). Many people supported Mom on her way and helped her to deliver the story to her readers, including my brother, mom's sisters and her brother, their children, the villagers, and of course my Dad who loves and supports her in everything she does. The website is in Russian, but my English speaking readers might want to look at old photographs. You might also want to try using Google Translate to read the story, but please know that it is an imperfect tool at this point. There are three parts in the photo gallery: Никифоровы which is my Mom's mother's maiden name and photos of her family; Односельчане which is photos of the villagers; and Татарка, which is photos of the village of Tatarka. 

The fur coat my Mom is wearing is made of Mouton fur. It is sheepskin which is treated a certain way to be moisture repellent. It is very elegant, beautiful and at the same time practical and warm, and for all its wonderful qualities very common in Russia. The collar of Mom's fur coat (шуба) is mink which is more expensive compared to sheepskin, but also very commonly used for collars, hats and fur coats in Russia. There are many other types of fur used for winter clothing in Russia, such as fox, coypu (nutria), Arctic fox (песец), rabbit to name a few. With temperatures going -30C (or -22F) and even -40C (or -40F) for quite a big part of winter, natural fur is a necessity, and not just a fashion statement. But people still want to look good, even in such cold weather! I can't emphasize enough how stylish most of Russian women are, and a bunch of men too (just look at my Dad!). 

Every time I look at photographs of my dearest, sweetest parents, my heart jumps... They are simple people with great depth of understanding of what's the most important stuff in life is, what love really is. They know it not because of reading tons of books and education, and although both are very intelligent and respected for their professional careers, they live by their heart, and that's the way they raised us - my brother and me. Listen to your heart and do what feels right to you. Not what you think is right or what you are afraid is right - but what truly feels right to your soul. I can't imagine better parents for myself. They support me in everything, even when in the beginning they don't completely understand the path I choose. And that is how I know what love really is. Letting another be who they are or who they are becoming, and fully supporting them on their way. 

Спасибо вам за ВСЁ, мама и папа! 
Я вас очень, очень сильно люблю...

Location: near Krasnoyarsk, Russia


  1. Natalia, What a beautiful post: the writing, the photos, and the sentiment. You are lucky to ahve such loving parents, and they are lucky too, They are elegant looking people, and OH!, all of that snow!
    XX, Elle

    1. Elle, thank you for your kindest words - they mean a lot to me. You touched me, as always. :) Siberia is a gorgeous beauty! Not the easiest place to live, but feels right for some people. We all have places which mean something very special to our hearts. Siberia will always be one of such places to me. And my parents are truly unique...

  2. This is a beautiful and touching post. Interesting to learn more about Siberia. It looks so much like the part of the world where I live, same climate and same trees. You are fortunate to have wonderful parents! They look familiar to my life experience in the best way because I grew up in a town of 250 people and it's dear to my heart also. Thanks for sharing you life!

    blue hue wonderland

    1. Thank you for your warm comment, Ann! You are right - your homeland does have a lot of similarities with my homeland. I have never been to Minnesota, but from what I hear winters are harsh there and lots of snow... Your photos always remind me how winter was in Siberia - much snow! And I do have a soft spot for small towns, always loved exploring them in the States as well. They have very special spirit. :)