The fall of 2004 was — indeed not “has been” but “was” since it a look out of my window can easily prove it is decidedly over — unusually warm, or, to be precise, its warm period lasted longer than usual. Living in Moscow (whose urban microclimate accounts for one or two extra Celsius grades), seldom can one see so many trees still leaved very late in October, and not find small pools frozen in the morning in early November.

I started to hope for a mild, boring, Central European winter but Monday this week, it first snowed. I still didn’t take it seriously; but Thursday’s and Friday’s snowfall insisted winter was there to stay. It snowed again yesterday, and snowed today; it’s knee-deep and deeper—-

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