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This morning brought the first snow to my city of Illichevsk, Ukraine.

The first snow is always welcomed with a great joy. I had to go to the market this morning to get some parts for a project that I’m doing. As I walked across the park, I saw that everyone had been anticipating this first snow.

City workers were out with their branch brooms (brooms made of tree branches), shovels, and scrapers, cleaning the sidewalks and walkways through the park. Although the children were all in school as I made my early morning trek, I will bet that their minds are on snow ball fights and sled riding rather than what their teacher is saying. My most endearing memory of today was the mother pulling her preschool child on a sled. The child was all bundled up with a blanket over her legs, as they did in the traditional sleigh ride in old Russia. I absolutely had to laugh out-loud when I saw a boy hit his mother with a snowball while she walked ahead of him, talking on her phone.

Life goes on as normal here. People put little coats on their dogs and take them out; when nature calls … you know. Laundry day is laundry day here. The wash gets hung out to drip dry or freeze, but it gets hung out. People know how to dress here. They are survivors of the deep freeze. The one woman whose picture I want most; will not allow it. She sits by the street selling sunflower seeds and nuts, year around. It amazes me that she has such patience.

So true winter has come to Illichevsk for a short season of three months. At times it may seem longer, but it is this challenge in life that keeps us sharp, alive, and invigorated.

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