One of the many nicknames of Saint Petersburg is "The Venice of the North." The city covers over forty islands on the Neva River where it joins the Gulf of Finland. In some places the river is very wide, and the islands are connected by bridges; in other places small bridges cross small canals. The rivers, and indeed the Baltic Sea itself will soon be freezing...
But for now, winter can't seem to make up its mind: it is much warmer today than yesterday. The snow begins to melt. Chunks of snow and ice fall from the roof. I eye the temple roof warily; it must be at least four stories high; if snow or ice conked you from that height, you'd know all about it.
Old Charlie, the temple watchdog is feeling pretty frisky this morning, bounding ahead of me on my morning japa walk, sticking his nose into everything, rummaging and ferreting among the leaves and the shrubs and the muck on the shore of the Baltic Sea.
Charlie is almost totally deaf, you know, so I bet his sense of smell is acute (nature has a way of compensating like that). What a cacophony of scents he must be experiencing now!