At any given moment, we never know how the weather will be. Today, it topped 30 celsius.  Saturday, we had snow in the morning and tomorrow we will again.  The wind will often pick up suddenly, whirling dust through the air, before abruptly stilling, leaving the dust to settle around me, in my hair, and eyes, and mouth.

The snow comes and goes, but it is dry, never sticking for too long (except, perhaps universally, on the tops of cars). There is freezing rain too, but it’s like nothing I grew up with, in Ohio or DC. Here, the rain falls through dryness, and itself almost feels cold and desiccated when it lands on your hands and face.

My Mongolian colleagues can smell the moisture in the air before, during, and after rain.  I can smell the lack of moisture when it doesn’t rain.  And when it does, I smell smoke and pollution being washed away. But I don’t smell wetness. I think maybe, being used to an abundance of moisture, I only notice it when it is not there.

I love the unpredictable weather though. This is spring in Mongolia, ever changing like a woman’s moods.  Some days, the air is calm, and altitude makes the sun beat down on your face in a pseudo-tropical warmth.   And then suddenly, wind or rain or snow or some other unpredictable element sweeps through and sends you scurrying for a scarf or gloves or raincoat or perhaps just the safe indoors.

But the green is peeking through, and where spring is flighty and uncertain, I hope summer is strong and sure. I want to see flowers and and smell grass, even if I have to leave the city to do so.  And perhaps most importantly, I want to witness rivers and mountains, and yes, even the desert (my secret love). Amazingly, Mongolia has all of this, and all of it wonderful.

It doesn’t always seem like it, but nature smiles here.


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