Russia ranges across the whole of the north of Asia and maybe a third or so of northern Europe.
It covers eleven time zones incorporating a wide range of environments including deserts, forests and tundra.
The people who inhabit this vast land are equally diverse in culture and ethnicity. Most are ethnic Russian, but there are over 120 other ethnic groups in the country, many languages, religious and cultural traditions.
The country, not surprisingly, is home to a lot of large things, such as the worlds longest river, The Volga...(start humming now)...the world's deepest lake, Ladoga and the largest lake, Baikal.
Russia has a long tradition of excellence in the arts and sciences...writers, dancers, musicians, jewellers, poets, it is not very hard to think of a list of Russians who have delighted the world with their skills and knowledge.
Despite Russia having a wealth of natural resources, the extremity of the weather does not make life easy for many of the inhabitants, especially in the colder areas. It has, however, made for a resilience in the inhabitants that is reflected across the cultures that make up the country. Russia also has the dubious honour of having recorded the lowest temperature on Earth, outside the Antarctica, on February 6, 1933, a temperature of −67.7 °C (−89.9 °F) was recorded at Oymyakon's weather station. Oymyakon is a rural location, and is one of the worlds coldest permanently inhabited places
However, as my interest during this year long world trip is predominantly flora, I did a bit of searching...what could I use this week as my focal point?
The Tundra areas of the world really intrigue me. Their flora and fauna, the peaty acidic soil, what there is of it, the ever present permafrost...yes, that is a bit of tautology, I know...but all these things combine to create a quite unique environment that I would love to experience...apart from all the mosquitoes maybe. (I am a magnet for them here, would need protective clothing there!)
Also, reading about the peaty acidic soil, I thought about the cloudberry...a delightful, elusive fruiting plant that has intrigued me ever since I first read about it in a Scandinavian book as a small child - maybe a Road Dahl?
Rubus chamaemorus is a rhizomatous herb native to cool temperate, alpine, arctic tundra and boreal forest, producing amber-colored edible fruit similar to the raspberry or blackberry...(thanks Wikipedia!)
This is apparently a favoured fruit of Russian royalty, back in the day, and is still known in Northern areas as the "Royal Berry". It is now becoming endangered in some areas due to the destruction of peatlands.
I have actually tasted the jam, when I was living in Sydney and experienced IKEA for the first time...I think from memory the flavour was a bit of a disappointment as I expected a much more heavenly explosion of taste, having waited most of my life to taste it, but isn't that true of most things in life? I found it to be a little bland in reality...the tart zingy taste described must be a component of the fresh fruit, as is often true.
I simply prefer raspberry or blackberry, which is probably just as well as I don't have access to any more of it, IKEA not having a store here in Tasmania, sadly.
I haven't been out anywhere exciting, seen anyone or done anything noteworthy so I had better end this post pretty soon...all I have been doing is making a terrible mess in my craft room, to the point where Chris actually posted a photograph of my work bench on Instagram...oh! Fame! I think it was simply payback as I quite often ask him to fetch down project boxes etc. from high shelves...return heavy paper bins to their allotted spaces, that sort of thing.