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You Rock my World You Rock my World
by Valerie Sartor
2019-07-09 08:59:38
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Most Americans know very little about the climate and environment of Siberia. I am no exception. I had no idea, for example, that all around Irkutsk are peat bogs. They are part of the natural environment of the what Russian call the taiga – kind of savannah/steppe that has few trees and wild grasses. Since I have lived here, many times the weather forecast has been “smoky” – because the peat bogs ignite, and the smoke from these fires spreads for hundreds of kilometers.  Such fire wafts an acrid smell, and the sky looks hazy, sometimes outright foggy. My colleagues have told me that the fires are caused by drunks and derelicts living out on the taiga, or by lightning strikes, or the peat simply self-ignites. I wondered about this, but I knew from Irish history that peat is used as a source of heating and fuel, because it does burn.

sib01_400Another interesting geological fact about Irkutsk and the neighboring province of Buryatia are the earthquakes. Since I have lived here I have felt two distinct earthquakes, they registered at about five. Varvara’s husband is a geographer. He told me that Lake Baikal is always having small earthquakes, because the lake is located on a fault line.  Scientists say that one day Lake Baikal will have a massive earthquake and that the water will surround all of Irkutsk Province, creating an ocean and wiping out the people living here. It is not supposed to happen in the near future, god willing.

Yesterday I was sitting in the teacher’s office. Natasha, a plump woman in her forties, who loves blood red lipstick and a big dose of mascara on her eyelashes, blinked at me and said, “So, Valeria, did you feel the earthquake a few days ago?”

I nodded, looking up from my lesson planning and replied, “Yes, I was lying in bed and felt the floor move, my bed was shaking a little.”

Natasha grinned at me and said, “I was lying in bed, too, with my husband, and I thought at first that I was having an orgasm. But then I glanced over at him, and he was snoring. So I knew it was an earthquake from nature, not from any kind of satisfaction he could have given me.”

We both laughed uproariously. Svetlana, our boss opened the door, saw us laughing and said, “What’s going on, girls?”

I smiled and said demurely, “Oh we were just talking about earthquakes and how they impact our lives.”

“Our private lives,” added Natasha with a wink.

“Well, have no fear of earthquakes while you are here,” said Svetlana seriously, “Lake Baikal is always sending out these tremors, they say that some day we are going to experience the earthquake of our lives.”

We both burst into laughter, and Natasha giggled, “I certainly hope so!” 

I added, “I could use a few tremors in my life over here.”

We laughed so hard that tears came to our eyes.

“Really, girls, you must let me in on the joke,” said Svetlana.


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Leah Sellers2014-11-25 22:05:30
Dear Valerie Sartor,
Your Story was both interstingly informative and delightfully funny. Thank you for the belly laugh. What a wonderfully earthshaking way to start the Holiday Season of ThanksGiving !

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