Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Winter in Serbia - Feb. 2005

Winter in Serbia

February 25, 2005

Since we’re on winter break, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on winter in Serbia. It certainly is different than Mali, where the coldest I recalled was around 60°. In Tunis, it never snowed, but winter was rainy, cool, and damp, making it seem cooler than the low 50°’s. I’m sure glad that it’s not quite as cold as a Wisconsin winter, which can sometimes hover around 0°F.

I will have to say that when it has snowed here, it has been some of the most beautiful winter wonderlands I have ever seen. The moist snow clung to every twig, telephone wire, shrub, and even the polygonal spaces of chicken wire fence. In my backyard, my poor bulb plants (who had sprouted in late fall due to some warm weather) were buried by a thick blanket of fluffy snow. In some ways I was glad that the narrow road up to school had not been plowed, as its whiteness completed the scene. At the lower school, the custodians/gardeners were outside, shoveling. On my way to school, I walked past the African Museum. In the middle of the sea of white was a small African hut with a conical roof. It truly was an odd scene! As I entered through the wrought-iron gates of the upper school, I was treated to another beautiful scene. The campus’ many trees were each delicately covered by a layer of snow. The pine trees hung, weighted down by the snow.

Last Friday the upper school had a contest at lunch hour. Each class (8A, 7B, etc.) assembled a team of 6 students and the homeroom teacher. Their task was to create a snow sculpture, using 7 or less props/tools. As a “judge” I was to determine the top three snow creations, rating them on their creativity and teamwork. Creations ranged from the morbid 6A’s cemetery (complete with ketchup for blood), to a porcupine. It was fun to see the kids enthusiastically working together as a team, transforming the snow into clever pieces.

The area where I live is an older section of Belgrade called Senjak. The roads are very narrow, with many roads being only one-way. Those that are 2-way typically only have enough room for small cars to pass by each other. Sidewalks are not always present, or are occupied by parked vehicles. As the sidewalks are not shoveled, they quickly turn to icy paths. Large mounds of snow piled up on the edges often leave the tire path as the only safe place to walk. If that wasn’t enough challenge, add steep hills. The one I have to walk down for grocery shopping is cobblestone, which gets very slippery.

One Saturday evening, a Serbian teaching couple took me to the ski lodge in a nearby section of Belgrade (whose name I can’t pronounce) for a nice hot drink with a great view. Even though it was dark (few lights), you could see kids tobogganing. There was no ski lift, but many skiers used the rope to pull themselves up to the top. It was nice seeing parents and kids enjoying some leisure time together. I’m sure it was a stark contrast to the scene of Belgrade during the NATO bombing.

Now that most of the snow has melted, I’m ready for spring. I look forward to visiting the countryside in its glories of spring growth. Such beauties of God’s creation will no doubt inspire me to do some artwork of the region.

Winter pictures (updated) http://homepage.mac.com/melissaenderle/Serbia/neighborhood.htm

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