The Purple Cold of Kiev

Posted on Mar 14, 2017 in Photography, Ukraine | 6 Comments

cold 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.

cold kiev

cold kiev

cold 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.

cold kiev

cold kiev

cold kiev

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.

cold kiev

cold kiev

cold kiev

cold kiev

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.

6 Comments

  1. Carmel Bendon Davis
    March 15, 2017

    Such an evocative post. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Daniel Scott Kirwan
    March 15, 2017

    Gosh girl, you crazy! I’ve been to Kiev twice. I wanted a house there but then Putin, George W, and Herbert the Pervert done fucked up everyone’s post Cold War-Wall coming down high. I was delighted with it. Ukrainians love tourists and at the time were very affable. Is it still that way? What’s the Russian’s presence? Are there checkpoints? Do you speak Russian or Ukrainian? It can be a risk to do as one will be offended depending on degree of nationalism, separatism, or improper verb conjugation.

    Your photos are great!

    Dan.

    Reply
    • Nate
      March 16, 2017

      Nice pics! It looks so different already, the snow has gone. The leaves have not yet returned.

      Dan – the war is a long way from Kiev, there are no check-points, many people speak Russian, and there are many Russians in Kiev, so there is no offence to be had. People are very clear on the difference between politics and day-to-day life.

      Reply
    • Katrinka
      March 16, 2017

      Thanks Dan! What Nate says is correct; the war hasn’t come to Kiev. I don’t speak Russian or Ukrainian, but I have friends who have lived there and only speak Russian and haven’t had problems. Kiev is swell; I’ve been twice and will probably go back again!

      Reply

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