Love in a Cold Climate:  Saint Petersburg

Detail of a poster for the ballet behind falling snow.

Detail of a poster for the ballet behind falling snow.

This week I am sharing a few photos which I took during four days in Saint Petersburg.  I have borrowed the title from Nancy Mitford who wrote the novel “Love in a Cold Climate” – first published in 1949 (incidently one of my favourite books).

Nice spot for fishing!

Nice spot for fishing!

Were these guys fishing or taking some measurements under the ice?   Whatever they were doing, it was a freezing spot to be doing it.  I was impressed!  (It is like a Russian version of  L.S Lowry’s bleak landscapes.)

Old lady hoping to sell clockwork Moomintrolls on Nevsky Prospekt.

Old lady hoping to sell clockwork Moomintrolls on Nevsky Prospekt.

I did a double-take when I noticed these tiny figures were Moomintrolls (characters from the books by Tove Jansson).   I’m afraid the Moomintroll lady wasn’t attracting any business.  I might have bought one except that my pockets were empty.  You see,  I had spontaneously rushed out of my hotel to get snow photos.  Visitors are always supposed to have their passports on them when in Russia yet I had nothing but my Nikon.   This was on Saint Petersburg’s main shopping street, Nevsky Prospekt.  I like the fact that there are snowflake motifs on the counter – and it is snowing.

View down a side alley.

View down a side alley.

‘View down a side alley’ makes me think of communist propaganda art of last century.  The writing on the banner sets the scene.  The old man, while watching his step, did not notice me photographing him.  I was also watching my step; trying to take a photo in a hurry without falling over on the ice.

Focussing on the glass (rather than the view) of a window at The Hermitage.

Focussing on the glass (rather than the view) of a window at The Hermitage.

When I was visiting The State Hermitage Museum (which had been one of the palaces of Catherine the Great) my attention was divided between the art treasures  inside and the views of the frozen river outside.  I took several photos where I focussed on the glass itself so that the view outside was abstracted.

Church on Spilled Blood in a spring snow fall.

Church on Spilled Blood in a spring snow fall.

The proper name of Church on Spilled Blood is ‘The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ’.   It was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881.  Finished in 1907, its future was not bright and it was used to store vegetables during world war II and mockingly referred to as ‘Saviour of Potatoes’.  It was left to ruination however in the past few decades it has been restored to its former glory.  It functions as a museum nowadays.  The normally brilliant colours of the exterior have been completely muted and softened by the falling snow.

Love in a cold climate.

Love in a cold climate.

While I stood on one bank of the frozen canal leading to the Church on Spilled Blood, I noticed this couple on the opposite bank.   It looked like they had just got married and were posing for photos in front of the church.   I couldn’t resist taking my own photo of them.  Being at a distance, they were oblivious to me.  As they were small in my lens, I could not see what I had captured until I got back to Australia and transferred my photos to computer.  Then I saw it.  I had caught two people utterly absorbed in one another.

Don’t they look like an attraction of opposites?  She is fair haired and engulfed in white -while he, darkly handsome, dresses in black.  I surmise that she is an extrovert – (she loves to talk) – while he is an introvert (he listens to her stories).   How Slavonic they look!          This is, surely, Love in a Cold Climate.

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7 thoughts on “Love in a Cold Climate: Saint Petersburg

  1. Tig

    Moomintrolls!!! I love them! As a child in Hobart, I attended a school in our local village that was decidedly first generation northern European in it’s makeup. We kids were directed in a play that was one of the Moomintroll stories. I can’t remember which one I played but I’ve been fascinated with them ever since. Onto more adult topics, I’ve always wanted to visit the Hermitage. My mother said it was one of her very favourite museums and she was extremely well travelled, as you are yourself. I suspect it contained items from her personal favourite times in history. I do love the side street photo of the old man. Keep them coming!

    Reply
    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I loved The Hermitage, Tig. However I was shown through rather quickly, by our friend who has probably had to show too many people inside. So I have made a note to myself to return there so that I can look at my own pace. For instance we rushed through the French Impressionism section at the rate of knots. I could only wave at the paintings and in my mind tell them that I’d be back one day.
      Japanese people like Moomintrolls too – so one can easily find all sorts of Moomintroll paraphenalia in the shops there. I was looking in the duty free magazine on Finnair and noted that their Moomintroll collection of gifts (which I wouldn’t have minded buying) were only available on their flights between Finland and Japan. As I was flying to Paris I was not able to be tempted as they weren’t available to me.

      Reply
  2. anna warren portfolio

    Wonderful photos – not usual tourist pics, they tell a story. I loved Love in a Cold Climate too, and your couple are fabulous. I think capturing them from a distance maybe preserved the freshness of their expressions. The Hermitage is somewhere I am determined to visit, hopefully with lots of time!

    Reply
  3. Robyn Varpins

    That view down a side ally is brilliant…every bit of it! …..it looks like you drew it already. And the lovers are very sweet…..the dancer is magical with the snow….wow

    Reply
  4. stefan2009

    You were very well inspired ! I can imagine each photo into a drawing, especially the couple and the old lady.
    The shot of the iced glass reminds me immediately Rothko don’t you find ?

    Reply

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