If there’s a nip in the air, try a nip in your tea
Weather Watch has just returned from Siberia on a winter field trip. Actually it was further east than Siberia: it was Primorsky Krai province, which borders China and North Korea and is a 10-hour flight from Moscow.
It was the week before the snow starts to fall and in Primorsky Krai, I’m told, it comes fast. The sight of silver birches lining the road bent almost double from the weight of supporting last winter’s drifts was all the confirmation required.
The weather was cold, you might not be surprised to hear, rarely above freezing during the day and falling to -10C at night. A few months from now temperatures will drop to -30C, and still life will go on.
It was, though, a curious type of cold compared with that which we receive here in Britain – and following last Monday’s hard frost, the first of the year, expect more chilly weather to come over the next few days.
In Russia, even though the mercury sank far lower than any normal winter’s day in Britain, it strangely felt far warmer. Unlike our damp Atlantic air that wreathes itself around your body the humidity was almost non-existent.
The boreal forests we walked through had a beautiful crispness and clarity to the air, which chimed in my mind with a book I have recently read, Winter Birds by Lars Jonsson, where he seeks out birds in the depths of the coldest months and draws them as a jolt of colour against the frost-furred landscape.
Like Jonsson and the Russians I am resolved now to keep outside as much as possible this winter, to explore the woods and moors around me even as the autumn colours fade.
Apart from double socks, there are other survival tricks I’ve picked up from my visit. Drink as much tea as possible. And don’t bat an eyelid if someone slips vodka into the pot.
Expect to see some more hard frosts soon