Tuesday, March 02, 2010


I occasionally forget that I live in a microclimate. It is well known (at least within Romania) that Csikszereda is the coldest place in the country (though locally, that title is hotly contested by Gyergyószentmiklós (Gheorgheni). [In fact the official coldest place in the country is Gyergyóalfalu - Joseni - which is near Gyergyó] When I watch the weather forecast on Romanian TV, if they don't mention the projected temperature here (and they rarely do, since it's not exactly a big place), I have to take the temperature they give for Brasov, and subtract a few degrees to have a rough idea. But I do tend to forget that we really have different weather here. A couple of weeks ago, we drove over to Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc), and I was stunned to realise once we climbed over the mountain pass at Tolvajos-tető (no idea what that's called in Romanian, I'm afraid, I'm not even sure it has a name), suddenly there was no snow. A few patches in sheltered north facing nooks, but basically nothing. And that's just 20 kms from here. We, then at least, still had tons of the stuff lying around everywhere. It's slowly going now as it's been warmer for a week, but there's still a fair amount. Elsewhere? Not a flake.

Csíkszereda, you see, lies in a depression in the mountains. We're 700m above sea level, which means, for example, that we're way higher up than the Tan Hill Inn, which bills itself as the highest pub in Britain at 1732 feet (which in real money is just under 530 metres). However it doesn't feel like that as we are surrounded by montains on all sides, most of which are getting on for 2000m high). Thus we get our own little microclimate. Sometimes in the winter all the mountains and even nearby towns are blanketed in snow, and we've got none. Or the other way round (like now). We have very cold winters*, and pleasant summers (while the winter here is pretty brutal, we are a haven for people from all over the country sweltering in deeply unpleasant summers). Famously, you can't grow tomatoes in Csíkszereda. (To be honest this is not exactly true, because (a) obviously you can in greenhouses; (b) you can grow them outside too, they just don't get ripe; and (c) increasingly these days as the climate gets warmer you seemingly can).

[* This has been a fairly tough winter, and temperatures dropped below -30 a few times, but I have lost count of the times so far this year that people have told me about 1985 when it got down to -41. I live in a world where people measure their worth by the ability to withstand cold]

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