Sunday, 24 October 2010
I left Kazakhstan in 27 degrees of heat.
A day or so later and snow is forecast.
There will be frantic activity up on the ski slopes above the town. Almaty is hosting the Asian Winter Games in a few weeks time, and there is still much building of wooden hotels and chalets to be done up there, ready for the influx.
Near to my son's glass tower of an office block a terrifyingly perilous ski-jump rears into the sky. He hopes to be able to watch people hurling themselves down it from somewhere near his desk.
His own skis are ready, near the door of his apartment.
I try not to think too much about the slopes he will be attacking.
I'm not sure that it was such a good thing to have seen them; the rocks, the tree-stumps, the brand-new, untested chair-lift network.
It is only days since we sat in warm sunshine on the terrace of this Georgian restaurant. Fragrant woodsmoke drifted across the steep valley.
Two caged wolves paced nearby, their yellow eyes fixed on us.
All too close to them was a sort of pets' corner of rabbits and chickens. My son fought hard against the urge to pass the wolves a couple of chunky little rabbits.
Kazakhstan is said to have more wolves than Canada, although I'm not sure how anyone can prove that. I just hope those particular wolves will either be released or fed as the snow falls on the mountains.
Snow will be falling on the spacious avenues of Panfilov Park, just one of so many beautful tree-filled spaces in Almaty.
The leaves will have gone.
But life will continue in the little wooden houses in every side street and back lane, where they sit comfortably among the new glass and chrome and the old Soviet blocks.
Every ex-Soviet block has its own courtyards, with play equipment for children, drying racks for the washing and benches in the sun where you can sit and chat with your neighbours.
Every wooden house has its orchard, its vegetable patch, and many near the city centre have a cow or a couple of goats.
We have so much to learn about life-style.