Years ago, while a student at Dordt College, an assignment for a history class was to watch the 1965 film, Dr. Zhivago. For years, details of the story-line and themes of the movie were nothing but a disjointed collage of movie scenes. The only lasting memory I had from the movie were the winter scenes portraying the Russian winter to be bitterly and relentlessly cold. I can’t even remember what these movie scenes were about other than that the characters wore fur coats and hats, the men had frozen mustaches, and everyone looked terribly cold while traveling about in snowy and frozen landscapes.
We are often asked what winter is like in Ukraine. Ukraine with a long and shared history with Russia leaves the impression for many that winters must be harsh and unbearable. Winters in Ukraine in general fall short in comparison to a Russian or Siberian winter. However, the winters here in Ukraine are still very comparable to winters in the Midwest region of the United States. We have seen nights get down to zero Fahrenheit and below. Daytime highs have only rarely reached the low 30’s and winds have been bitter. We have been greeted upon our return to Ukraine with one of the colder winters they have seen in some years. The nearby mountains are covered in snow. Snow is abundant everywhere and roads have been covered with ice and frozen ridges of snow. Sidewalks and road edges are most treacherous of all with a solid layer of ice inches thick. The cold weather and ice have made it difficult to get around and has certainly left us a bit more home bound than we would prefer.
Days are short as darkness descends by 4p.m. leaving the impression that everyone hibernates in the evening. Despite this, the winter is lovely in its own way, and a beautiful aspect of God’s creation. While waiting for spring, we have appreciated winter and are thankful for a warm house and a hot cup of tea.