It was a balmy +6 Celcius today. I took off my coat in adulation only to be met with a good scolding by a babushka. Just yesterday I felt sad about leaving Volzhsky so early in June but today reminded me why there’s no place like home. Volzhky is nicknamed the “city full of sun.” It’s been glorious and strange to have so much sunlight this year. It would even wake me up in the mornings at 6AM (before we changed our clocks). I’ve grown to love just sitting in my window sill to soak up the light (especially when it was too cold to spend much time outdoors). Still, I must confess I miss the rain. I miss spectular cloud formations. Or just the comfort of that dull gray blanket across the sky, signaling everything is as it should be. I heard that they don’t expect much rain in April. What is spring without rain? I can’t imagine living in a place with so few clouds and such little rain forever. It’s wonderful to appreciate rain and clouds. I am not sure if I feel more excited to see rain or sunshine now but I am glad I’ve learned to appreciate both.
Today I learned that too much sunlight can be scary. At mid-day I met some friends for a stroll. The light was so intense I could hardly keep my eyes open. Everywhere I looked was so bright that I missed my friends when they passed by. My friends joked that I must be a vampire since they supposedly prefer the Pacific Northwest for its cloudiness. Before we set out on a trail I even mused “it’s like we have no atmoshphere to protect us from the sun.” I began to notice how dark and nearly black some of the tree trunks were. Before I could ask whether there was ever a fire here my friend pointed out that some smoke was rising from the horizon.
A brush fire was sweeping through fields several hundred feet in front of us. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a wild fire before. My friends assured me we were fine and that our path back wasn’t cut off. We were never in real danger but the idea of periodic brush fires scares me. I realize the steppe is probably much like the South Western region of the U.S.