by Galina Zueva
Every city seems to carve a face from stone. Especially when the temperature is -21, you've missed your metro stop, and the electricity goes out every other day. The sun also has its' share of amusement in playing hide-and-seek with the city's inhabitants, while my teenage students bring friends of death and morbidity to every class.
To slowly chip away at all the hard points and edges that congregate where a smile was once worn is a difficult task. Even such a lyrical city like St. Petersburg experiences difficulties in raising nostalgia for what was once life before the winter! This is where a town (or suburb, as Russians call it) like Pushkin, is a vital stop for those who need to reacquaint themselves with tranquility.
It could be said that Pushkin's existence is an excuse to merely parade the baroque splendor of Catherine the Greats Palace. Despite the lavish sprawl of the palaces (there are several), the town is actually quite residential and perhaps even monotonous to some of its inhabitants (some friends still have difficulty finding their apartment in the dark as every building and corner look the same).
Despite this, the town possesses some particular allure which is inexplicable. I feel ten years lighter every time I depart from the mashrutka (mini-bus), as everything appears so clear: people will actually look at one another and may slightly nod at you as they pass by, the trees are dusted to glittering perfection, and your path is lined with the etchings of skis. Even the students are easier to motivate in such an environment.
The charm of the place was definitely set in stone a few weeks ago. I had forgotten what the sun looked like, or even that there was such an element called the sun. I think this is a common occurrence in the middle of winter, especially as it had been a dark day in St. Petersburg, and I was wilting, still caught up in the city's hedonism. As I made my way to the school, I could see a hole in the sky tearing itself wide open…it grew as if freedom was given for the first time! I watched as other caps, beanies, and shapkas (Russian hats) tilted back, worshipping the break of light as if it was the first breath of light….yes, somewhere over the horizon you can see poetry.