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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Living in Dushanbe - Winter

Did I ever mention to you that I hate winter?  I was raised in North Carolina where, as one clever wit once put it, winter is like running through a freezer naked.  It’s uncomfortable while it lasts, but it just doesn’t last that long.  Coats acted as fashion accessories more than protection and half an inch of snow was enough to cancel school.  It was great.  Just enough winter to make spring pleasant, but not enough to make snow clothes a necessity.

Our first post in Cairo suited me perfectly, and I loved taking the children to Maadi House in February in seventy-degree weather.  It was disorienting when the plants stayed constantly green (under the layer of brown dust), but I wasn’t complaining when my Facebook feed was filled with snow pictures while I drank mango juice on the patio.

However, after two years of warm and hot as the seasons, I actually found myself liking the four seasons that our next post, Baku, had to offer.  It turns out that variety actually is the spice of life, and spring is very nice after a little bit of winter.  But Baku, situated on a peninsula in the Caspian, only ever has a little bit of winter.  Occasionally it would snow, but Baku just didn’t get that cold.  Which was just fine with me.

So when we got our assignment to Dushanbe, I was pretty sure that I was going to freeze to death.  “Most mountainous country in the world” with “one of the longest glaciers in the world” and “tallest peak in the former Soviet Union” sounds like a pretty cold country to me.  And wasn’t helped when Brandon’s Tajik teacher in FSI told Brandon how much people in Tajikistan hate winter because it is just so cold for so long.  So I did some preparing.  I bought an ankle-length down coat and warm snow boots, snow clothes for the children, down comforters for the children, and looked into space heaters on Amazon.  I considered buying a bouncy house to keep inside so that the children could have something to do during the long, cold winter.  I got prepared.

It turns out that I needn’t have worried.  Much to Brandon’s disappointment, winter in Dushanbe is much closer to winter in North Carolina than winter in Moscow.  It does snow here, occasionally.  We got four of five inches last week, the first snow since the seven or eight we got before Christmas.  But by the time we made it to the park to sled on Saturday, there was hardly enough to sled on and the green grass was poking through sled tracks by the time we left.  Most of the winter, it just rains.

The weather will flirt with full-on winter, dipping down to the low forties (you can now laugh, everyone in Moscow) for a few days, before deciding that really, fifties is a much nicer temperature.  Last Sunday it was sixty-five degrees and sunny.  We had the kitchen windows open while cooking dinner to let some of the eighty-five degree heat out.  Brandon is, of course, very much grumpy about only getting a faux-winter and makes grumbling threats that sound like ‘Astana’ and ‘Helsinki.’  I, however, take the children to the park and enjoy the beautifully green grass.

Most days my ankle-length down coat stays in the closet, and the children don’t bother with much more than a fleece for our trips to the park.  I’ve had to shut off the radiator in our room after we stifled through a couple of seventy-eight degree nights.  My housekeeper likes to clean with the window open in whatever room she’s in.  Edwin’s long-sleeved shirts still have their tags on.

I can’t help feeling like I’ve dodged the winter bullet again, which is pretty good when your husband speaks Russian.  I know that eventually I’ll have to actually face a real winter, but I also know that it won’t be for at least two more winters.  Brandon can grumble all we wants about ‘Reykjavik’ and ‘Ulaanbaatar.’  I’ll just keep on enjoying my Dushanbe winters.

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