Open and enquiring

It’s amazing what you can learn if you’re open and enquiring – I don’t necessarily mean nosy, but maybe interested. My daughter always finds it funny when I get into conversation with people, I guess I’m a friendly person and always want to have even a fleeting relationship with someone, say at a bus stop or in a queue or sitting opposite on a train, or standing at the bar waiting to be served! I don’t want to pry into people’s personal or private lives, I’m just interested in what people think, even if it’s only an opinion on the weather!

Like many people I’m on Instagram, and it’s amazing how many people I’ve connected with because as well as ‘liking’ their photos I comment and ask about them. There’s a lady in Finland and we have become’friends’ and I’m learning a lot about her country, the fact she lives by a ‘sealed forest’. Her home looks remote and so different from our bricks, tiles and mortar houses. She shares photos of dishes she cooks, of her Christmas decorations, of the fruit and berries she and her family collect and then the jams, jellies and syrups she makes!

I have become fascinated by the vast region of Siberia; there are many photographers who share stunning images of this vast and varied place, its people and wildlife. This is what Wikipedia says about Siberia:

Siberia  is an extensive geographical region, constituting all of North Asia, from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. It has been a part of Russia since the latter half of the 16th century, after the Russians conquered lands east of the Ural Mountains. Siberia is vast and sparsely populated, covering an area of over 13.1 million square kilometres (5,100,000 sq mi), but home to merely one-fifth of Russia’s population.

The name has disputed origins but may mean ‘sleeping land’, which is rather beautiful. Traditionally it was a lace to which people were exiled, and again Wikipedia says: ‘the climate of Siberia varies dramatically, but it typically has short summers and long, brutally cold winters. On the north coast, north of the Arctic Circle, there is a very short (about one month long) summer.

To get back to what i was saying originally, I follow quite a few professional and everyday photographers, and often comment on their images which are inspirational as well as fascinating. There was a photo on the Siberian Times Instagram of some children playing in the  snow in the Ust-Aldasky district of Yakutia. It was -48º C, yes, minus forty-eight degrees C! About seven hundred young students were away from school as they don’t have to attend if the air temperature drops to -45º C. The comment was that although they didn’t have to attend lessons, they didn’t seem to be in any hurry to rush home!

I said I couldn’t even imagine how cold that was, I really can’t! it seems jolly here today at 4º C!! A friendly lady replied to me ‘It’s almost anabious for me in -27º / -30º in the south of Russia! And -48º C it’s Russian AVOS!!!!’ I was interested in her reply for a couple of reasons and also because of these two new words, anabious and avos… what do they mean? What was she saying? I think she meant anabiosis, suspended animation – well, I get that! I think much of my animation would be suspended at nearly fifty degrees below freezing! So what about avos… well that’s even more interesting, and hello again to Wikipedia:

The Russian avos – авось,  describes a philosophy of behavior, or attitude, of a person who ignores possible problems or hassles and, at the same time, expects or hopes for no negative results or consequences. It is an attitude that treats life as unpredictable and holds that the best one can do is count on luck.

Avos means roughly ‘maybe’, or ‘perhaps’, or ‘I hope so’. It can also means with any or pure luck, pure luck, and also to have an almost illogical trust or belief in something, like ‘blind faith.’ So it could be a good and optimist thing – being resilient and tough, or a more pessimistic, fatalistic attitude and making little effort to do anything about whatever the woeful situation they are in. Many believe this fatalism is just part of the Russian character, but as Russia is such a large and varied country and made up of so many different peoples, that must be more than a bit of a generalisation!

So not only have I made contact with an interesting person, I’ve leaned about Siberia, ultra cold weather, anabiosis and avos!

If you want to find me o Instagram, here I am:


  1. Richard

    Hi Lois

    Very interesting read about Siberia. I’ve always had an itch to go to Irkutsk and see Lake Baikal – in the winter. It is a marvellous place and the lake is self cleaning – even with all the pollution from the saw mills in Irkutsk. It contains more than half the fresh water on the planet.

    I have just finished the draft for the current topic – The Feast. – attached


    Best wishes



    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lois

      I genuinely can’t imagine how cold the se really low temperatures must feel! My dad worked in the Low Temperature Research Station in Cambridge and they used to have big deep freezers for their scientific experiments and when I was about eight I was taken in one, all wrapped up of course! I was so excited and that’s all I can remember, being excited with this almost burning cold air! I was only allowed in for less than a minute or two but I do remember it being like an adventure!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Klausbernd

        Dear Lois,
        the last time I have been to NE Greenland I experienced minus 38 C and when I ived in Northern Scandinavia I had similar temperatures. Well, you actually have to have every part of your skin covered. I once took off my gloves in N Greenland (at about minus 30 C) only for some seconds and it immediately really hurted. Our expedition doc watched that everyone of us (8 people) ate and drank a lot, more than I would usually eat and drink. And we had every evening quite a hot sauna, much hotter than my sauna at home. I liked to take with me on the ice an alcoholic ginger liquor, very gingery – but I really like ginger. After an outing on the ice back on icebreaker we all drank hot cacoa with quite some rum in it. With the right clothing and food it isn’t too bad down to minus 35 C if there is no wind. With strong winds even relatively warm winter temperaturs like minus 20 C can feel hellish.
        I like these low temperatures. The air is that clear and you experience these optical illusions like seeing four moons and little rainbows and prismatic colours everywhere and you can see very far. Of course there are aurora borealis.
        For me, low temperatures and lot of snow have a special magic. The world feels different, cleaner.
        Keep well
        Klausbernd 🙂


      2. Lois

        Dear Klausbernd, how very interesting, thank you for sharing your stories with me. It never occurred to me that on such expeditions you would need a doctor with you, but of course – it was a very dangerous place! I also never considered that you would have to eat and drink more, but of course it makes sense in such an extreme conditions. I think I would be drinking a lot of the ginger liquor, I love ginger and would very much enjoy drinking that, even if it wasn’t freezing cold!- I’m not so keen on cocoa and rum, but I’m sure if it was so cold I would be drinking lots of it.
        I’ve seen photos from the Arctic north, but I guess that actually being there and seeing it in reality is wonderfully different; it sounds so beautiful with the four moons and rainbows and the magical colours.
        It’s a dream of mine to see the aurora, I’ve been to Iceland twice, and although I had a wonderful time, I didn’t manage to catch the dancing skies. I have also been to Northern Ireland many, many times and that’s a place which also has views of the aurora borealis, but I never managed to see it. Sometimes it has been visible further south – when my dad was a boy living in Cambridge he saw it, but I think that must have been exceptional!
        Snow does indeed have a very special magic about it – I get very excited when even the smallest amount appears here, which isn’t very often in the south-west.
        Thanks again,
        With best wishes


        Liked by 1 person

      3. Klausbernd

        Dear Lois,
        a couple of weeks ago we could see aurora borealis from our garden in Cley next the Sea – but this was quite a rare occasion. The biggest chance to see them is around Tromsø and in the province of Troms and north of the Arctic Circle in Finland (like Inari or Ivalo). These are the place you can reach more or less easily.
        This ginger drink you can buy at Waitrose (I think we buy it there) and it’s called ‘King’s Ginger’ – YUMMY!
        All the best wishes to you as well
        Klausbernd 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Lois

        Dear Klaus – the magic of Cley, you even get the aurora!!
        I would love to visit Finland, I have a ‘friend’ on Instagram who lives there and shares the most wonderful photos, of the forest where she lives, the peat bogs where she and her family gather special red berries to make into a jam or syrup, and also some of her delicious dishes she cooks. I have also recently read a couple of books by Cecilia Eckbäck set in historic Finland which makes it sound a most interesting and perhaps a little spooky place to visit! Yet one more place on my travel list!
        Another much nearer place to visit is the supermarket to see if I can find some King’s Ginger!!
        Best wishes and I hope the weather hasn’t been too awful for you all,



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