The Purple Cold of Kiev
I went to Kiev in the beginning of February, when the skies were white and blank and the sidewalks sleek with ice.
I needed a few days out of Turkey, but fleeing from the rainy chill of Istanbul to the bitter cold of Kiev seemed counter-intuitive. I admit, I avoided the forecast before I bought the ticket. But my old crew (Nate and Phillipa and Ken) were already there and Lorena had never been anywhere formerly Soviet and the tickets were cheap, so I bought some fleece-lined tights and braced for the winter cold of Kiev.
And was it cold. But it was a crisp and dry cold, the kind I remember from my New England childhood, a cold that bites your cheeks and turns your breathe into clouds. In some ways, I found it invigorating, and preferable to the damp shiver I’d left behind in Istanbul. I bought a rabbit fur hat that looked slightly ridiculous and muffled my ears to near deafness, but that also kept me cozy.
We skated through the city, from the markets with lady butchers slinging pig fat to the concrete brutalism at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute to the snow-spattered memorials at Maidan Square. I shot a roll of Lomochrome Purple, which always makes the world seem a smidge surreal; Kiev wasn’t tinged with turquoise and violet, but the colors look like palpable cold, like the crispness we felt.
I preferred Kiev in winter. It suits this concrete city more than my summer September did; the grittiness is fresh in snow, the women wrapped in fur coats add texture and punctuation to every sidewalk, the steam rises off the soup, the vodka is sharp and warming, and the metro rumbles through faded halls. Maybe a city escape to frozen Ukraine is a little bit crazy. But then, maybe I am, too.