So over the last few months I’ve been trying to gain a sense of what makes Southern Russia a distinctive region. I was hoping the answers would be as obvious as they seemed in the Russian Far East where people readily shared their opinions about how their region was different. Here more people seem to shrug and add that life isn’t so different from Moscow. Perhaps it’s harder to explain Southern Russia because I know less about European Russia than I do about the Russian Far East.
I found a helpful source online called “Beyond Borders: The Real Geography of America & Russia” that compares geographical regions of the US and Russia. You can read chapters from this project on their site: http://www.beyondbordersbook.com/maps.html
Images courtesy of: http://www.beyondbordersbook.com/the_book17.html
This book has helped me understand more about this region. When I first arrived I was amazed by how dry, flat and brown much of the land was. It reminded me of my visit to Gallup, New Mexico which confirms some of the parallels these authors find between this part of Southern Russia and the US Southwest. This book further explores how these regions share similar histories. I like the patterns they draw between the history and geography of the US and Russia to show how much we share in common.
The greatest difference I notice between Southern Russia and other Russian regions is its weather. I am told it’s been unusually warm for this time of year in Volzhsky with temperatures hovering around freezing. For comparison Moscow’s temperature has ranged around 14-25 degrees. This week Volzhsky is hovering around the 40s. It feels much like Portland. It’s been a wet and fairly warm winter. After hearing about other ETA’s winters in -30 degrees Fahrenheit I can’t complain that this winter feels much more like home.