Quiet winter morning sunrise

While U.K. is getting slammed with two feet of snow and the eastern part of the U.S. is getting pelted with rains and storms…we have a tranquil morning to enjoy. Not for long though because by Sunday and Monday we will be deluged with more snow and blizzard conditions. Such is life here on the open prairie.

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I realize that most all of us are sick of winter but if you make a sport of it like x-country skiing, then it isn’t so bad.  The temps have been melting the snow so icicles are forming and the snow is not quite the right quality to ski on in the warm afternoons.  This morning might be a good time but I have other errands to run, it will have to wait.

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I need to share what the skiing trails look like from our second floor window looking north. It really is wonderful to be out while the trees are all flocked with what the fog leaves behind from the night air.

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For now I’ll leave my faithful readers of my blog with this sunup photo from this morning. Sometimes I have to wait for about 5-10 minutes to get it just right…but it is worth it!

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Our Winter whiteness

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow nice to wake up to this winter wonderland of white frost on our trees.  We are believing in spring with the intensity of the sun, but there are setbacks where we have colder weather appropriate for February and March.

I have ONE more week with my students and then it is spring break where they will go hither and yon for the week they are free from classes.  For now, I am having them write an ethnography paper on the subculture of their research topic.  Should be interesting what papers I get next week. I will try to turn around and get the papers graded and back to them before they leave for the break.

Difficult for ME to stay focused as I want to be out x-country skiing on the fresh snow. We are so thankful for our neighbors who come to snowblow us out of the yard that gets socked in with drifts of snow, especially when winds are from the south.

Today when I was about to go ski, I heard what was a tractor.  Our wonderful neighbor was doing our front yard, then I saw him with his big John Deere tractor in our backyard. I waited until he was done in about 15 minutes and then he went to his sons’ yard that needed blowing out. We are fortunate that we are in between his place and where his sons have a house.

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Here’s our front yard and you can see my ski tracks off to the left of the driveway. I am having a wonderful time going out in the woods, all is pristine and white.

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Stormed out today

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe snow is falling, light and fluffy and with a LOT of it as promised it will be wonderful for x-country skiing.  However, we are supposed to get 30 mph winds so that will make it a virtual white out.  I hope to get most of my classwork ready for Tuesday classes and then I’ll go out in this winter wonderland.  However, we might be blocked in with too much snow.

Fortunately, we have good neighbors 1 1/2 miles down the road that bring their big tractor to push the snow out of our driveways.  I gave a rose bouquet to the wife of the wonderful neighbor since it was Valentine’s day that he did it.  Before he showed up, I had asked my husband to snowblow our yard as a Valentine’s present.  Then, the tractor came.  My husband brought me to a nice Sweetheart dinner in town before we went to a jazz band concert.

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Stormy out means we are socked in for the day.  We went into town for church but it had been canceled.  The highways were not plowed out but we could still navigate okay.  Someone else had come in from 30 miles away and got back home safely.  We had our adventure, best to stay inside where it is warm.

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More skating in Astana, Kazakhstan

four countriesI suppose many people are watching the Winter Olympics in Korea, some amazing talent there!  Not sure who took this photo of four nations represented but we were skating on a frozen solid river in Astana, Kazakhstan.  On the left is a former Kazakh student, then Wilma from Netherlands, a guy from U.K. who liked to travel everywhere and me.  Seven years ago I was teaching and living in Astana, the coldest capital in the world, second to Ulan Baatar in Mongolia.  Yes, when the winds swept through the northern plains to Kazakhstan you wondered what the weather was like north of us, in Russia.

Didn’t matter the temp or the wind chill, an expat friend of mine from U.K. would cross country ski every day along the river in Astana.  I thought she might have been crazy or part Norwegian but this was her usual thing to do while her husband had some kind of government job.  Wonderful couple, I wonder where they are or if Wilma is back in Holland.  I keep up with most of my former students from NAU through FB.

I’m amazed that I had so many visitors to this blog yesterday, must have been something I wrote or the pictures I put up.  I used to have over a 100 a day when I was actually living in Kazakhstan and talking about the culture and people.  Now I just put up occasional pictures of my life back in Minnesota.  The following is something I see a LOT of on our northern plains.

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Life may be cold here, as it is in Astana, but the hearts are warm and we have memories to go on.  I doubt that I’ll ever get back to Central Asia after having lived in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for 1 1/2 years and Almaty and Astana, Kazakhstan for 2 1/2 years, over four years.

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Skating in Astana

Seven years ago I was crazy enough to go skating on the small river that weaves through Astana. It was very frozen…no worries there of falling through.  Probably it had been frozen sinc November and would not melt until the following April or May.  Anyway, it was fun to skate with a woman from Holland and with a former Kazakh student of mine.  I’m not sure where I got the ice skates, probably from another ex-pat who had left them behind.

Skating in Astana

There had been some winter activity in Astana where Bota, as a volunteer, had an actual uniform and name tag for one of the ice arenas.  She skated fairly well, my friend from the Netherlands was a good skater and the ice was smooth enough to go backwards or forwards.  I have not skated since seven years ago when this picture was taken.

I understand that Astana has recently had some incredibly cold temps and high winds, I hear from people who I know who live and teach at Nazarbayev University.  One American and another British guy are teachers at NU.  Also, not only have I heard about the cold weather in Astana but the very, very strong winds. I saw photos of how people were standing on the sidewalk and just pushed along by the wind or how dangerous it was for even cars to drive.

As for me, I’m in cold Minnesota and we just have to worry about negative temps and some strong winds with blowing snows but nothing as horrific as what Astana experiences. Here’s a photo of our country that is very flat looking outside our second story window.

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Another photo shows our winter when it is beautiful and pure white, when all is still.

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when all is still

 

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More snow and cold with x-country skiing

I realize that when one has cold and wind combined it makes for a dreary winter.  But when the sun comes out and the temps warm with only a slight breeze then one’s idea about living so far north and in the cold climates changes.

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I adventured out today on my x-country skis and it was a glorious hour of breaking trail and hiding behind the tree rows to be protected from the wind that had a chill to it.  I also saw the fox had been out on the snow earlier.  They were probably hunting down the rabbits.

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The tracks of the prowling animal shows claws so I suspect that it is a fox, but it could be a coyote too.  What do you think?

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I went back to the house after going around in the tree rows and getting the HUGE drifts in our north shelterbelt.  There were more tracks going in that direction too.

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What a good day it was to be out in the fresh air, I came back into the house with VERY red cheeks after getting such good exercise skiing!

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Aftermath of full blown blizzard

Wow, what a difference it makes to have the sun out again after being cooped up in the house for a whole day because of a blizzard.  The photos below are showing what it looked like in the morning, it didn’t change until the winds died down and the sun came out the next day, today.

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See how the surroundings looked the next day, what a difference the sun makes.

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Of course, a little Jack Frost thrown in for good measure on our eastern window doesn’t hurt.  After last week and 30-40 mph winds from the south blew in snirt and snow, the past few days was a fresh layer of snow blown in from the north at 30 mph.  We have promise of about three more months of this weather.  May as well enjoy the scenes while inside a warm house.

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I understand from my friends in Kazakhstan that they have been having some low temps and fierce winds. I remember those days of having 60 mph winds push you past the crosswalk where you thought you were planted solidly until the traffic light signaled for you to cross safely as a pedestrian.  Nothing like that here where I live.

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