Oh Kaliningrad. Is this really an oblast that calls for a visit? And what exactly is an oblast?
The Kaliningrad oblast is a province of Russia. Many people do not know about it due to its unique location, which is not connected to the mainland. Instead, Kaliningrad is located between Lithuania and Poland and on the Baltic Sea.
Personally, I have never been to this province, yet I did live in Eastern Europe for two years, and have been in the Kaliningrad vicinity, visiting both Lithuania a few times and Poland once. In fact, I lived in Estonia for two years, so I can assure you, it’s true, the Eastern European blues do exist, and they do emerge in the dark, winter months.
To find happiness while surrounded by bleak gray skies can be difficult. For me, enduring my first year of darkness was the worst. You are not prepared for the sun to rise around 10 am and to set at 3 pm. And though it is “day” the sky looks like dusk. A midnight blue haze eclipses any possibility of sun.
The other reason for misery is the wind. Every day I would walk out of my apartment and say to myself, “it can’t get any windier, right?” And the next day, it would be windier still. People ask me the lowest temperatures I had suffered. In Finnish Lapland, I snowshoed, dipped in an ice hole and saw reindeer at 40 degrees below Celsius. In Estonia, my second Christmas on my way to Lapland, I survived -30 C.
So you can see why it’s hard to find a little joy in those extreme conditions. Take a look at Lisa Piergallini’s article and find out how philosopher Immanuel Kant found it.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. And remember to explore your literary imagination this holiday season . . .
Jennifer, Network Editorial Director