On Wednesday, the temperature in Kyiv dropped. Quite significantly, in fact – it was around minus 15 in the morning, and warmed up to around minus seven.
And the sun was out. As a result, I seriously underestimated just how cold it was outside.
Setting out for lunch, I donned a pair of trusty knee socks under my lined boots. No tights, no thermals. Just a cotton summer skirt, boots and socks (oh, and a shirt and jumper of course).
Not having far to go to meet my friends, I didn’t really notice the cold. But after lunch, a friend asked me to walk with her to find a sports hall she’d been told about.
So we set out on foot, up from the valley that is Kreshchatyk to the hill-top of the river bank. The wind was blowing mighty fiercely at the top of the hill and it was bloody freezing.
Admittedly, we were both rather cold, but as we were on foot, we just sped up a little to keep warm. We walked around for about an hour, then returned to Kreshchatyk. That’s where I saw something I’ve never seen before.
A Ukrainian man smiled at me. Almost laughed. I was dumbfounded, this was such a monumental event. Ukrainians never smile and make eye contact on the street. What was going on? Have the tides turned?
Then he looked at my knees. I followed his gaze and looked down.
My knees were fluorescent pink. They were brighter than the worst sunburn I have ever had if my life. In contrast to my black boots and black skirt, this painful streak of freezing pink flesh was shocking.
I was so embarrassed. I undid my zip just a little so I could pull my skirt lower to hide the pink. I felt as though people were looking at me, thinking, “What a stupid foreign lady. She doesn’t even know how to keep warm.”
I scurried home, and pulled out the thermals straight away, so I wouldn’t forget to put them on when I went out on Thursday. Then I spent the rest of the evening defrosting.
So while it’s not as interesting or inventive as some of the competition entries, I discovered: you know it’s time to wear your thermals when your legs are so pink, they force a Kyivite to smile at you.