After leaving the dog sled race, my companion and I walked the twenty minutes or so back to one of the shops in my building, where we had a coffee to warm up after standing around on a frozen lake for an hour, and we each popped up to my place for a quick use of the bathroom. I also took the opportunity to change my -30˚C boots for my -50˚C boots since there was yet more walking to be done before my Sunday was over, though on the street and not on ice.
Once we felt warm and revived, we set out again, this time to her place where a few of us were meeting up, since she’s trying to get a regular bridge club going. Now, people, the only thing I know about bridge is that Andy Capp loved it. I’d never played it in my life and had not the first clue about it. In fact, a few weeks ago when she originally put out the call for interested people to meet up and play on Sunday afternoons, I ignored it since my Mondays are so busy and long and I sometimes want to spend my Sundays relaxing. However, when she put out the call again I decided to give it a try but I to not commit to every Sunday. So this past Sunday was my first time joining the group.
An interesting side fact for you: extreme cold drains your phone battery. I found this out firsthand on Sunday. My companion had said it to me when we were sitting in the shop sipping our coffee, at which point my phone was sixty-seven percent charged. I told her, “No, mine is fine.” I had to eat my words an hour later when we got to her place and I saw that my battery was now at seventeen percent and all I had done was walk with my phone in my outer coat pocket instead of the inner pocket where I usually keep it when I go walkabout. So just a note for you if you find yourself in thirty below temperatures: keep your phone in an inner pocket and even then it’s not a guarantee that the cold won’t affect it.
Actually, now I think about it, I remember that the only reason I even had sixty-seven percent after we left the dog sled race at the lake was because my phone had shut itself down. I had taken it out as we were walking away across the lake to take one final picture and the thing shut itself off. However, it was too cold for me to keep my hands exposed long enough to fumble with it so I didn’t turn it on again until we got to the shop.
Anyway, enough about phones. The bridge group is set up so that everyone brings something for nibbles so that all of the food and financial burden doesn’t fall on the host. We had a delicious Georgian wine, crackers, olives and a couple of different cheeses. I’m happy to say that I had a great time, not only because of the three cups of wine that I had (wine glasses are not common in our flats but who needs a wine glass as long as the wine is scrumptious?). I learned enough of the fundamentals of the game to like it well enough that I definitely want to join the group again on some Sunday evenings. It’s a great way to unwind with a nice group of people after a long week.
We played (and nibbled and drank and chatted) for about three hours then we all hitched a ride back to our various homes with the one person who had driven there. On future Sunday nights when her car is put away for the winter, I’ll be walking home because there will be no ride to hitch. Anyway, between the dog sled race and bridge, my Sunday was great.
My last outing of this week was to a movie double feature. My Agatha Christie dream came through unexpectedly. I heard that the nearby theatre was showing Murder On The Orient Express in English with Russian subtitles. I couldn’t let that pass me! It happened to be showing on Wednesday evening, thirty minutes after my last class got done, and two and a half hours before another movie I had already committed to, thankfully at the same theatre. After my class was over, I quickly bundled up and set off for a brisk ten minute walk to the theatre with four other colleagues. We grabbed some food and settled into our seats right on time.
…And the movie started in Russian. I didn’t sweat it. After all, having already read the book, I knew the story, so I decided to use the viewing as a Russian lesson. However, five minutes in, the theatre recognised its mistake, stopped the movie and re-started it in English. In my opinion, it was a very good adaptation of the book and the superstar powerhouses did their roles justice.
After the movie was over, I bundled up again and went out the theatre’s exit door with my companions, chatted while we walked around the side of the building, bade them farewell and trundled back up the theatre’s front steps to re-enter the building and meet my second set of viewing partners. The second movie was an artistic one…literally. It was the award winning Loving Vincent, about the death of Vincent van Gogh, whose work I fell in love with when I visited the museum named for him in Amsterdam. Not only is the film about a legendary artist but it’s literally a work of art. It’s the world’s first fully painted animated feature film. That is, a team of one hundred and fifteen artists painted every frame of the film in the style of van Gogh. Think about that for a minute. I sat in a movie theatre in the northernmost inhabited city on the face of the earth and watched a piece of art unfold before my eyes. Awesome. God is absolutely awesome. It seems like such an everyday thing to do, doesn’t it, watching a movie at a theatre? But when you think about it in the context of my life, it’s absolutely amazing and I don’t take that for granted.
The awesomeness of the circumstances notwithstanding, the movie was brilliant. The story was compelling (though there were some gaps, I think), the artwork was amazing and the production was very well done. At some points, I felt like I was sitting in a piece of art, and at other points I felt a strong urge to buy several of the paintings. If you have a chance wherever you are and if you’re even remotely interested in art, I highly recommend seeing this film.
Having told you over the past two posts about my recent notable outings, I come to the main points of why I even wrote about these things. No, I haven’t just been rambling, I have two points I want to make. First, I find that I’m much more sociable here than when I’m in Jamaica. Seriously. I accept at least ninety percent of the invitations that are made for events around town. In fact, I’m going to hang out with some people tonight and then to a concert tomorrow night. I’m never this sociable in Jamaica and I had to ask myself why. It’s pretty simple, actually, and it’s something I’ve said before here. The entertainments that are available in Jamaica don’t interest me anymore. I don’t mean to sound in any way negative but it’s as if the evidence keeps stacking up that there’s nothing there for me. Out here in the world, there’s always something to catch my interest. It’s khomus, it’s ice skating, it’s a dog sled race, it’s a tramp in the woods, it’s something!
The other point I wanted to make is that so far I don’t see what the big deal is about living in this type of environment. Yes, I get that it’s extremely cold – I stood on a frozen lake for an hour and had to leave when my toes were too numb for me to stay any longer – but so what? There’s life to be lived and enjoyment to be had, even out of doors! People are simply smart about how they expose themselves to the elements and they manage to survive and thrive here. So yeah, winter is still coming and I’m not planning to hibernate through it.
Let’s see what the next few months bring in the way of life lessons and personal revelations.