Saturday, October 8, 2011

SNOW! on October 3-----that's ARMENIA!

       Dzyun , or snow----in Angleren/English----appeared today,  on the mountains which we see from our porch.   It was cloudy and gray when Dave and I left for our work this morning. I left later than he, since Monday is not a teaching day for me, but one in which I can do planning and lesson preparation without a real schedule. The snow was not visible when I left home and I was concerned that it would rain, andzrev, and never thought of snow!!  True enough,  the snow was in the highest mountains, not where we actually felt it.  However, never in the past 68 years has there been snow present in my town only 5 days after my birthday!!!     Is this a hint of what’s to come???    One of the daunting aspects of living in Armenia is the weather, particularly where Dave and I live.  Because of the mountains, beautiful as they are on a clear, sunny day, they influence the weather in a way which produces more moisture, days- on- end of dreariness, and low hanging clouds which engulf the mountain tops and hover over the ground below.  It is always a blessing to leave school and find the sun shining when the morning so often brings these cloudy conditions.
       So, snow has arrived in Armenia which means the snow boots I bought before leaving the U.S. will soon be unpacked.  It is cold enough that I’d really like to wear them now but prefer not to show all of my wimpy characteristics at once. Plus, snow is not actually on the ground yet in Dilijan.  The staff members at my school already check to see how many layers of clothing I have on when I arrive in the morning, after I have walked about 25 minutes from home.  Most of them tend to dress very nicely and would rather be cold than unstylish. They laugh at me!  But,  I can hardly believe the attire of some of the teachers who are dressed to easily attend a semi-formal event or certainly a dressy art show opening or symphonic concert in the U.S.  This is typical of Armenian women in general, but since I work with teachers,  that is where my impressions are focused.  There are the older faculty members who wear dressy suits, often adorned with sparkle and shine.  Without question, black and white in various combinations, describe the color range.   Then there are the younger teachers who wear beautiful clothes, again mostly in black and white. Even though they may only have a few basic pieces, these women are masters (or mistresses) of coordination as they combine a few skirts with a handful of tops and jewelry. Always appearing well dressed, they would be over- dressed in the scope of American teacher attire.   I, on the other hand, continue to be a conservative dresser both due to age, my own style and what I brought to Armenia, plus I DO NOT WANT TO BE COLD!  Knowing that fact, a young teacher brought me a wonderful pair of softly lined tights today and asked if I’d like to have them. She said the color was wrong for her.  I don’t care as long as they are warm, which they will be, and I’ll find something to wear them under as another layer to ward off the damp chilliness of this season.  I intend to maintain my own identity yet do try to respect the culture in this new country, therefore, as new items are purchased over the next 2 years, I’ll consider some of more modest  choices in Armenian women’s attire.

                                                  Tourism students and their birthday gifts                            

                                                                               So, winter is coming. I’m not sure I’m ready although Dave is.  In order not to think about it, I choose to reflect on my first birthday in Armenia. That is a heart-warming memory for sure.  The students in my classes surprised me with handmade Armenian gifts of a lovely ceramic pomegranate wine vessel which may double as a vase, along with an accompanying salt dish with its own tiny spoon.  Dave and I ate dinner out with our host family who had 2 members also with September birthdays. We shared that evening with our site mate, Kellianne, an amazing young volunteer also serving as an English teacher in Dilijan. Numerous Facebook greetings, e-mails from friends in the U.S. and well- wishes from my school staff, counterpart, and host family made the day quite special.  Though unexpected, a late September birthday and an early October snowfall paired quite well.  I hope to celebrate the birthday next year, but maybe the snow will be delayed until a more appropriate time on MY calendar! 
                                               Dave and I with Armenian host family                                                       

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