After a lengthy season of sun and (what I am told is) fairly mild weather, it has gotten colder. I don’t remember if it coincided with the time change, but one thing I can say for sure is as soon as the sun sets, it instantly gets about 10 degrees colder. My observations are probably accentuated by the fact that I have been out running at sunset lately. So when the sun goes down, my sweaty self no longer has the sun to dry me off and keep me warm.
But it’s not just that nighttime brings cold— it has been chilly around the clock for much of this week. It is just about freezing when I have been walking to school at 7:50am, closer to 40 (5c) when I walk back at 10am and it hovers in the low-mid 40s all day. Of course the big thermometer by Spar is a liar! Yesterday it read a temperature of 12c (53F) when it was at least 15 degrees cooler. And it was cloudy.
Last night I had an eerie experience. After my long day at the HS, I immediately went over to the primary school for a Thanksgiving presentation. Even though it is one week before the real holiday, the 5th-8th grade bilingual students were provided a party to learn about the American Thanksgiving. I was asked to give a short presentation about the history of the holiday, then another American women, who lives in our city, spoke about current traditions. There was homemade chicken, stuffing, and desserts including apple pie (made with the higher-quality pork lard). The kids had to take a quiz on my presentation, but I think it was just a formality…they took it in groups. It ended at about 4:45, which is now a full half-hour after sunset.
As several adults were chatting at the end, and I was asked about how things are going, I mentioned that we miss having a clothes dryer. I was quite surprised at the response. It wasn’t just a disagreement—with them not used to dryers. It almost felt like ridicule (though I mean that nicely…I perhaps don’t have the appropriate word, but it was not a hostile exchange). I was in the clear minority, with the Hungarians insisting that dryers don’t shrink clothes, and also mentioning that it is inconvenient because everything that is put in a dryer must be ironed before wearing(?!?!). As it turns out I dry some of my clothes [in the US], because I want them to shrink a bit (from the stretching-out of normal wear) but others I air dry, because I don’t want them to be too small. It truly is about 50-50, and once I said that to them, I felt really silly and wondered what new impression of Americans I was helping them develop. Oh well.
As I stepped out of the school, I was in dense fog. Actually, I was standing on the doorstep, looking at the light pole about 30 feet ahead and just beyond was the walkway, covered in fog. It was also completely silent. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me but the feeling was very close to the iconic image in The Exorcist, where he is standing in the fog outside the girl’s home. After walking down the walkway in zero visibility for 100 feet or so, I arrived at the main street. Here, I estimated visibility to be about 100-150 feet. I began walking home and as I got to the next corner, I realized it was still silent and that I couldn’t even see across the street. Check this out…while I was crossing, I caught the image of a person crossing in the opposite direction, about 10 feet before we passed each other. He was wearing full camoflauge and carrying a chainsaw. After the horror movie suspense music played in my head for a few seconds, I looked back and kept walking, through the cold and fog. Minutes later I heard a chainsaw being used in another direction, (…in the same dark and fog). So that was kinda neat.
Today it was cold all day. You may have seen Kellie’s photo of ice on the leaves within the last couple days, but I experienced that today as I walked outside and instantly regretted not bringing gloves. All of the branches, plants, leaves, etc. had a layer of frost on them, and some tiny branches had been snapped. Two hours later, when I walked out of the warm primary school to head home, I was met by snow. It wasn’t a real snowfall; it actually looked like rain from a distance but it was blowing around. And when I checked my jacket to see what was landing on it, it wasn’t wet. It was tiny snowflakes. I don’t know if that counts as snow or freezing rain, or something else… but it was fun to walk through it. This, of course, was the same path I walked along last night.
As I write this, I am on a train, specifically the Sarajevo-to-Budapest train. We are taking the three-train journey to visit another CETP teacher in Tata. This weekend, we will meet up with two other teachers and we are all going to Sopron. This is a city on the Austria border. It is apparently very nice, has a view of the Alps (on a clear day?), and is known for its dental tourism. There are over 300 dental clinics in this city of 60,000 people. So I expect to hear lots of German and I expect to take lots of pictures. My co-passengers on this trip are Kellie and my tripod!