American Girls in Moscow: Russian Christmas in June

American Girls in Moscow: Russian Christmas in June

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It’s snowing white whirlpools of pukh in Moscow, and while some have fun playing with them, blogger Tamara Smith is far from happy about the pollen season.

Let's sing along!

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, Everywhere you go..."


"Let's it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!"


We're thick in the midst of the annual bane of my existence – pukh.

The snowfall of poplar pollen has been particularly heavy this year, as evidenced by the white blanket covering the playground of a kindergarten. It has been piled so high on the ground that boys have been setting it on fire and watching it ZAP! instantly burn and disappear. Not that I'm advocating playing with fire, but it is a rather effective method of getting rid of it.

Ah, 'tis the season of dogwood pollen while I have a painful sinus infection that just won't go away.

For about a month every May/June, the city is covered in tufts of this white fluff... Kids love to play with it (it really can look like a snowstorm), but anyone, like myself, who as allergies cringes and braces himself for the worst. It also floats in through the windows, meaning you have to vacuum and dust at least every other day to keep it under control.

And all this because of an idiotic horticultural decision made by Stalin in 1934, or so I was told. Poplar trees have to be planted in equal male/female varieties; Stalin, alas, only had eyes for the ladies... And thus, our sexually-frustrated poplar trees blow out their pollen in mass unfertilized snow-like clouds, wreaking havoc on all those who suffer from allergies or who don't particularly enjoy having fuzz stick to their tongues, eyes and land in their coffee.

Something else I've learned? Don't put on lip gloss before walking into a snowstorm of pukh, or you'll end up with lips covered in white fuzz. It's actually quite funny once you get over being grossed out!

Up-close: This is what the tufts look like.

Both my girls love it. Back in 2005, our first time experiencing the joys of pukh season, they thought it was actually snowing.

They still see pukh and think: "Cool!"

Me? "Achoo!"

Tamara Smith / Expatica

The writer is a happily married mom to two little girls navigating the unexpected twists and turns of life in Moscow. They're in their sixth year of living here, and the city has changed so much during that time. The writer taught French and Spanish back in the USA and now she's the Director of Foreign Languages in a Russian private school. Click here to read more of her blog postings.

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