Day 11: Proekt 365 (The return of snow!)

Day 11: Proekt 365 The return of snow to Southern Finland

Day 11: Proekt 365
The return of snow to Southern Finland

What. A. Day.

Welcoming my step-son for a visit yesterday evening followed by an afternoon in the company of some of my favourite people today was followed by the long overdue and very much welcome delivery of the first real snowfall this winter to Helsinki. My cup runneth over.

I didn’t get a chance to snap a photo whilst walking in a real-life giant snow globe, but I did enjoy the moment immensely. Aside from the obvious inconveniences (I really do feel for all those who have to push strollers, walk gingerly, shovel / plow it to be able to get out of their homes, etc.), snow makes winter this far North so much more bearable. Even at night, there is a bit more brightness to the world.

Today’s snow was even more of a treat given that we have been promised some sort of substantial accumulation for the past several days (weeks?), all resulting in a whole lot of nothing. After being indoors for several hours this afternoon, walking out into the heavy snowfall and gigantic swirling flakes was a most fantastic surprise.

As an adult, there is no hope of a ‘snow day’, whereby any obligations for the next day are cancelled or postponed. Living in Finland, that’s an utterly laughable idea. But, that same excitement and thrill is relived with each snowfall. You’d think I’d be thoroughly sick of snow by now after 15 winters spent in the far North. Nope. Still love it. Still wait for it each winter with anticipation and anxiety. And, still giggle like an idiot when walking in it, especially during the first snowfall of the year.

Thank you, Mother Nature! You’ve given meaning to the winter darkness once again.

Why ‘proekt’?

Thanks to those of you who are following my Proekt 365 posts. Today’s post will come later, but I wanted to take a few moments to address one question I’ve received a few times now.

As an expat, my English is no longer strictly American. After living in Moscow, Russia, for eight years, a few Russian terms have become far more accessible at specific moments.

One of those words is проект, or ‘proekt’, the Russian term for ‘project’. For whatever reason, when I began thinking about doing this specific project, I kept hearing thinking about the project title in Russian: Проект 365 (‘Proekt trista scshest’decyat pyat’). Perhaps it was because I had chatted with my friend Gunilla about challenging one another to complete the project (she is a close friend from our days in Moscow). Who knows?  Regardless, in my attempt to claim ownership over this little project and make it more meaningful to me, #365grateful became ‘Proekt 365′. And, that it shall remain.

There are other Russian words and phrases which have crept into my everyday vocabulary and displaced the English terms. Beer is no longer beer, but пиво (‘pivo’). Sour cream is always сметана (‘smetana’). Да, ладно (‘Da, ladno’) is a catchphrase for ‘whatever’. Less translatable but a particular favourite is хитрый (‘khitri’), which roughly translates as ‘cunning’, but also carries a sense of twisted cleverness, and streak-of-evil cunning attached to its meaning.

Living with a Cuban has brought other phrases into every day use. My favourite and one which I use far, far too often ¡Oye! ¡Mira!‘, roughly translated to ‘Hey! Look!’ (my use is more akin to ‘shut up and listen’, but you get the idea).

Since Southern Finland is so English-friendly, there are few Finnish phrases which have entered our particular language. Perhaps that will change when / if we ever get a handle on what seems an incredibly difficult language.

It’s a great thing to be an expat and to have been afforded the opportunity to fully immerse into Russian life. Not only did I gain an understanding of a people who for so, so long occupied my consciousness as ‘the enemy’ having grown up during the Cold War, but it’s allowed me to luxuriate in the richness of Russian and my own native language (and recognise those same individuals as a people who are now very dear to me).

The words we choose carry such profound meaning because of how they are understood collectively but also because of the meaning we as individuals attach to them. So, choose them wisely. And, for kicks, add a few ‘foreign’ words into the mix.

How do you say, 'hello'?

How do you say, ‘hello’?