We had to get away tonight, from everything. We bundled up and walked to Red Square. Moscow is a beautiful city. The people here take pride in their city and there are always workers out beautifying something. The holiday decorations are still up, with giant Christmas trees dotting the city with the most amazing lights and ornaments on them.
We have been blessed to see this huge city in two seasons now. In September, it was idyllic, with amber-colored leaves matched only in beauty with the shades of yellow and brown leaves that accompanied them as they drifted to the earth. The mornings were cool, the daytime temperatures just right. In November, winter had begun and the snow made the city look clean and bright. And now, with winter fully entrenched in the city, we see how Muscovites handle the cold and snow so well. On our walk back to the hotel tonight, we saw a line of at least twenty snow plows barreling down Tverskaya street, the main street in the city, each one throwing their share of snow while the ones in the rear sprayed salt on the road. Everywhere you look, there are large crews of men with snow shovels keeping the snow off the walks. large dump trucks haul loads of snow from the city to outlying areas where it won't cause a problem. It is all so organized and efficient. The women are all covered in fur and tall boots. I've finally decided the stiletto heels the women wear, even in winter, are to break through the deep snow to solid ground. Everyone seems quite at home here in the deep winter.
We stopped at several shops and I bought souvenirs for family and friends back home, another effort to remain positive in this situation. The matryoshka dolls and little Russian toys are irresistible and the shop owners know it. I found a beautiful nesting set that begins with an elaborately painted Christmas tree, then a "Father Snow" figurine, then another something and finally a tiny snowman. I know each year when I put it out at Christmas time, it will remind me of these days, and I am glad I decided to buy it.
We went to the underground mall near Red Square and ate some warm food, then headed out to the square. The GUM mall is drenched in Christmas lights, and with the snow drifting down around us and St. Basil's cathedral in the background it seemed like a dream. We were nearly alone on the square because it was now almost 10:00. For the first time we felt a bit of weight lifted from our shoulders and we laughed as we took silly photos of each other on the square. It felt so, so good to laugh again.
We know we are not nearly done with this fight, but for tonight, at least, I feel peace.