It Snowed and Snowed: I Can See Russia

Monday Morning Musings:

Another post based on lines taken from other works.

“It snowed and snowed, the whole world over,

Snow swept the world from end to end.

A candle burned on the table;

A candle burned.”

–Boris Pasternak, from “Winter Night,” Doctor Zhivago

 

“When the snow flies and the night falls

There’s a light in the window and a place called home

At the end of the storm.”

Judy Collins, “The Blizzard”*

The snow flies and the night falls

Reminding me of winters past,

Of other seas of white,

The time it snowed

When our girls were young

And school was closed for a week.

They played, and I baked

Cookies, and donuts, and bread.

We drank hot chocolate

Ate cinnamon toast

And read books.

It was cold outside, but

It was cozy and warm

Inside,

A place called home.

IMG_3341

The snow flies, and I can see Russia

In my mind. I think of Dr. Zhivago

Trudging, stumbling through the blizzard,

Blanketed in an icy layer of white

Nearly dead

Finding Lara and warmth.

The stunning cinematography of the movie**

Who can forget

The movie images of the country house?

Surfaces a frosty filigree

A beautiful ice palace

And they are happy there

For a brief moment

When time and history freeze

Before the inevitable melting

And the resumption of life.

The death of winter becomes the birth of spring.

The snowy white landscape blooms with yellow and green.

 

The snow flies, and makes me ponder.

I think of my grandfather,

My mother’s father, born in Gomel, Russia,

Now Belarus.

He was traveling west as

Lara was settling into life with Pasha in Yuriatin

And Yuri became Doctor Zhivago,

Just before the war and revolution.

Not that my grandfather was in Moscow,

But he must have experienced the unrest,

Seen the gap between the Pashas and the Tonyas.

 

Did the snow fly during winter nights in Gomel?

Did my grandfather walk through drifts of snow?

I don’t know what his house was like

Or how it was heated.

Was there a big stove?

Did they have a samovar for tea?

Did it seem like it snowed

And snowed the whole world over

When he was a boy?

 

The snow flies, and I think of

When I was a child.

I wanted it to snow,

Longed to have more than a trace

In our Dallas yard.

Then we moved back to Pennsylvania,

And there was snow.

I listened to the radio for school closings,

And went sledding with my boyfriend.

The guys did crazy stunts,

I watched and laughed.

And I married that boy.

 

The snow flies, reminding me of passing hours.

I know nothing of my grandfather’s childhood.

Nothing of his hopes and dreams.

And I cannot ask him now.

Did he play in the snow?

He came to Philadelphia

A young man

Just before the assassination of the Archduke.

Fleeing his homeland only to serve

In the navy of his adopted country

During the time of war and flu,

An epidemic that killed more people

Than did guns or earlier plagues.

He married a daughter, one of seven,

Of another man from Gomel, a butcher.

Would he think it funny that some of

His descendants do not eat meat?

A choice made possible

By his immigration to this country

Of variety and possibilities.

My grandfather worked hard.

I don’t imagine he spent much time

Watching the snow fall.

But after he retired, he learned to dance

And paint.

He walked and swam.

He played with his grandchildren

Whenever he visited from his home

In Miami Beach.

His winter years spent not in winter cold,

But in sun and warmth.

A place of tropical colors,

Of sandy beaches, not snowy fields.

IMG_3330

My grandfather as a young man. The photo is undated, but taken in Philadelphia.

The snow flies and the wind howls.

I’ve cooked and I’ve baked enough

To chase away the chill.

Banished briefly, though not forever.

There’s soup, and bread, and pie.

And we will eat and enjoy.

We’ll sit with blankets and cats

And binge-watch TV.

Tomorrow we may venture out

To see the winter landscape.

But for now

We watch as

The snow flies, and the night falls.

Inside there’s contentment and light,

Color that contrasts with winter’s

Black and white.

A candle burns on a table.

And I am home and warm

At the end of the storm.

 

If it’s snowing, then I’m probably cooking. This is what I made during out weekend blizzard. (After the pre-blizzard cooking.) 🙂

Honoring my Eastern European-Jewish roots with Vegetarian Borscht

IMG_3336

and Black Bread (Smitten Kitchen)

IMG_3327

And my American birthplace with Pumpkin Pie

IMG_3325

*Judy Collins, “The Blizzard”

**Earlier in the month, I had fun discussing the movie, Doctor Zhivago with Scott Parker-Anderson. See his post on the movie here.

 

 

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “It Snowed and Snowed: I Can See Russia

  1. I like your version of sastruga where “time and history freeze.” You painted lovely snow pictures of Dr. Zhivago etched on my memory too. And of course, I envy your cozy, snowbound days. Jacksonville never slows down.

  2. I love these bits of family history, the dreamlike references to Russia. I remember adoring Doctor Zhivago when I read it as a teen.

    • Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting, Jennifer. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I also remember getting lost in that book when I was a teen, and the movie is definitely one of my guilty pleasures. 🙂

  3. It’s been a long time since I’ve read Doctor Zhivago or seen the movie, and now I have a hankering to see it again (and eat vegetarian borscht, which I love!). I am glad “I can see Russia” was not a reference to something else. 😀

    I really enjoy the way you sprinkle bits of history with the present, and I learn more about you. Your grandfather was a very handsome man. I wish I knew more about my grandparents, and it’s too late now to ask.

    • Thanks so much, Robin! I know I wish I had asked both of my grandfathers so much more while they were around. I learned some of the info from finding stuff on ancestry.com. The “I can see Russia” might possibly have kind of been a reference to something else, too. 😉 You should definitely make some vegetarian borscht and watch Doctor Zhivago!

  4. I see you implemented your thought about making soup and a pie. Well done. It seems the bountiful snow fall sparked many memories for you, Interesting how that snow scene in Dr. Zhivago scene is imprinted in our minds. But to link it to a grandmother is a different level. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Cindy. No, I don’t speak Russian or Yiddish. My mom, who spoke Yiddish well when she was a girl, says her parents spoke Russian when they didn’t want her to understand what they were saying, She said she learned the word for “ice cream.” 🙂
      I’m going to check out your post now.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s