Apparently there was something called Snowmaggedon moving through the United States a few days ago. Winter has been quieter here. The few inches of snow on the ground grew old and pock-marked. The sidewalks turned to ice rinks again – really ice skates might have been a better investment than boots. Once, with a backpack on my back and a box of seashells in my hand, I slipped and landed flat on my derriere. Later inspection revealed that not one of the shells had broken. I’m getting good at this.
But I’m not a natural on the ice yet. On my various errands abound Beregszasz, I see school children and teenagers shift their feet ever so slightly and purposefully skid across the ice for a few centimetres. The youngest children turn it into a game; with the oldest, it’s just a slight, habitual movement that’s almost a part of walking. They link arms and walk and skid and walk and skid and wouldn’t be caught dead falling.
The other weekend some students and teachers hopped into vans and took an excursion to the nearby village of Aklihegy. The village sits on the edge of the mountains, perched on the line between the Carpathians and the Basin. We went there to sled, but the snow was set it its ways by then and took a lot of coaxing to produce a very long sled run. The students didn’t seem to mind, though. Their whoops of excitement bounced from the church steeple to the forest and back again. I spent most of the time walking around the village with J. Edit, but we lingered near the sledding students long enough for us to both get our faces “washed” by second-year David.
Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors, go inside to try to warm up your feet and participate in a short bilingual prayer and enjoy the way the sunshine falls on the embroidered altar cloth. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but the church was sitting on the very last hill before a sharp plummet to the plain. Most of the land we could see is Romania; Aklihegy is wedged between borders and mountains quite tightly.
In The Amazing Adventures of Kavelier and Clay, Michael Chabon talks about the kind of gray day that makes it look like someone pulled a sock down over the windows. We’ve been having the same kind of claustrophobic weather here, though the sock has been large enough to encompass the entire transcarpathian region. The only proof that there was still a sun lighting the sky was the glowing pink color that tinted a 360` view around me at sunset- pink snow and sky and white buildings. I haven’t seen the mountains for weeks.
Today, though, I woke up and could see yellow light between the slats of my very green blinds. The sky grew brighter all morning until the clouds disappeared and the sock pulled over our dome of earth turned a springy periwinkle. All the snow has melted now, and its been taking a lot of convincing to remind myself that the wind making ripples on the puddles everywhere isn’t carrying spring in it just yet.
Nevertheless, the air opened up today, and I could smell the wood smoke and the mud, and the pigs’ and chickens’ protest didn’t seem so confined anymore, and people hung their laundry outside to dry. But I still couldn’t see the mountains.