39 days until departure

Today is a very English day. Sometimes the sun shines, sometimes its light diffuses into rainclouds which spit down on us and then disappear. I’m finding it difficult to dress for the temperature because it fluctuates so much.

The reason I’m telling you this is because I want to discuss my choice of blog title with you. Sitting at home right now, with the sun shining down on my mother’s beautifully-planted hanging baskets and dappling the reflections of leaves on our pond, it’s hard to imagine the rustle and snow from which my blog takes its name.

The truth is, there will be a lot more snow and a lot more rustling in my future as I head off to the western edge of Siberia to spend two and a half months studying in Perm, Russia.

Of course, we all need inspiration. I took mine from my favourite Russian poetess, Anna Akhmatova. You can check out some of her poems in translation here or for those of you who speak Russian, the far-superior originals are here. I have loved her since an old friend showed me some of her love poetry, but she also writes about the tragedies that befell writers and poets – and, indeed, ordinary Russian citizens – in the Soviet Union’s Stalinist terror (the best-known account of this by Akhmatova is Rekviem, or Requiem). She was an incredible woman – far ahead of her time in many ways – living a bohemian lifestyle in St Petersburg, and she was also marvellously resilient; living through hardships that most of us can only try to imagine.

Akhmatova looking beautifully wistful

I knew straight away that she would be able to provide me with my blog-title. I looked through my edition of her complete, translated works and came across this:

“It is good here: rustle and snow-crunch…”

I thought that this was perfect for the things that I’ll be writing about. In just three words, Akhmatova manages to convey the icy beauty of Russia, and the lively bustle of adventure that I hope to embark on. So I stole it!

Part of my tagline too – living life boldly – is set right at the top of my page to remind me to do just that. At first I wrote attempts at living life boldly, but I thought that sort of half-hearted attitude is just the kind of thing that I need to learn to overcome by being bold, so I made myself change it in the hope that it would discipline me when I begin to doubt myself.


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