Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day 5Ö How cold is cold?

There are many reasons I prefer to do my pilgriming in winter, but that is not to say the colder the better.  I climbed into the mountains in glorious snow - exhilarating, wonderful, picturesque, etc... but on the final day of my push over the Transcarpathians, the snow took a respite from falling, the sky cleared up, and it turned cold.  The little thermometer that hangs from my pack, close enough to my body to capture a smitten of heat, was red only in the bulb.  I don't think I ever saw that before.  No registration at all.  Minus 2Ö C and minus 25 F are the lowest markings on the scales.  The slight headwind made my eyes water, an unfortunate occurrence since, I learned right then, in the blink of an eye, upper and lower lashes freeze together.  Conveniently, so pretty did I find the valley that the unfortunate discomfort was not much of a distraction.  I hope not to lose the mercury into the bulb again on this pilgrimage, or any other.

Over the top in the cold, but down the subsequent slope in the knee-deep fresh snow that fell overnight.  Then the temperature rose to a slushy few degrees above freezing, and everything is cold deep and sopping wet.  Everyone is commenting that it's the whitest Christmas they've seen in a generation.  What luck for me.  At the border with Hungary, having a wide transition zone for the switch from Cyrillic to Latin writing and from Eastern to Central European time, I poised to re-enter the EU in the morning and take two days to walk to the biggest pilgrim shrine in Hungary.

I've got to hand it to the Greco-Catholic priests and sisters of Ukraine, who have taken exceptional care of me, passing me along from one parish to another, from one monastery to another, like no where else I've been.  The world, of course, needs more pilgrims, and I enthusiastically encourage pilgrims to come to Ukraine.  I've struggled somewhat with the language - it's a complicated one grammatically, but breaking the Cyrillic code opens vocabulary pretty quickly.  Nonetheless, English is not widely spoken, despite what people may think, but my other languages have come into play regularly, doh! all except Spanish, which is now my strongest foreign language.  Every evening has been something new - okay, say it all again, but this time in German, now in French, back to Italian... arghh, my head!  Next time, Hungarian...

3 comments:

Sheila Phelan Wright said...

Better you than I out there in the bitter cold. Sounds as if you manage to walk all day and find warmth, food and sleep every night. That's good news - and no complaints about not having warm enough clothes,etc. New boots being good to your feet? Not much going on locally and the greater world is in a crisis a day, so all is the same. Thinking of you often. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

hope you are still well and going forward to Rome, getting closer every day to your destination :) people in Poland remember you and think about you :) hope weather improved.
best wishes
Iwona from Lubień

Paul Murphy said...

Dear Miss Ann,

Thank you for the question. Mr. Murphy did a bit of acting (it wasn't pretty) of how you came out of the mountains and headed West. We figured out why you move the chocolate and that starboard means right.

Did only your right side get sunburned?

Mr. Murphy's Class