Mr. Popovich is a professional governmental Russian interpreter, liaison for world global energy corporations. His primary responsibility is to translate geological studies in search of new oil and gas fields into Russian, then present those findings to the appropriate government authorities and private industry clients in around the world. Location &
Weather: The primary research fields are in central Siberia (Yakut Region) where temperatures average between minus 50 to minus 90 degrees below zero. Primary Modes of Transportation: Dogsleds, horses and snowshoes. The average distance between fields is ten miles.
Challenges: The conditions are the primary obstacle, along with transportation and geography. Subzero temperatures make typing almost impossible. The ‘thought’ process time it takes 4 to 5 times longer than under normal temperature conditions.
Human Resources: The number of geologists and support personnel averages 25 per season. We live in Mongolian tents, eat mostly dry goods and reindeer meat. You can go 3 months without bathing; although the upside is germs cannot survive in these conditions.
Risks: Frostbite is unavoidable. The average distance between fields is 10 miles over frozen lakes, streams, and tundra, then through dense forests, and twenty-four hours of sunlight. Indigenous animals include, bears, tigers and wolves, The traveling between fields are timed from when we leave and the expected time to arrive at our destination— if not, search parties are immediately dispatched. On average we lose one individual each season due to the harsh and unforgiving elements.
Siberian Winter's Song
Poet: Robert Popovich © April 24, 2019, Time: 12:30am
Setting: A recounting of being a part of a international geological team, deep within Siberia seeking new oil fields. This poem is offered as a recounting of those events, in their totality. I wrote each stanza at night before lights out that occurred during that day.
I began writing this poem on a Russian governmental plane, fourteen hours in flight, with refinements upon landing late into the night. All experiences offer life’s lesson, mine was so profound it defied description-
We came to Siberia in search of man’s precious oil,
Instead, we found its people and horses--far more noble.
We were often warned of this land’s misleading beauty,
To be wooed like the sirens of Ulysses-- death and cruelty.
Siberian Winter’s Song--singing in the breeze.
An average wintery day, blizzards at a minus 70 degrees,
Not fit for man, nor beast, not even the indigenous species.
We were taught by local herders what’s needed to survive,
It was the incomparable Siberian horse--we needed to ride.
Siberian Winter’s Song--whistling through the trees.
Our team was made up of renowned Swedish geologists,
Except for me, a ghost writer and designated chronologist.
We spent endless days conducting research in the fields,
While I recorded, whatever their expert findings revealed.
Siberian Winter’s Song--revealing science’s needs.
We plotted our journey, without considering our plight,
To travel and work in the infamous--Siberian white nights.
We mounted our steeds, with full packs and heavy supplies,
Offering our gratitude, without whom, we couldn’t survive.
Siberian Winter’s Song--trusting this magnificent breed.
The stark white mountains and fields of unimaginable snow,
Giving the sensation, we would never again, see our shadows.
The White Nights of Siberia are impossible to truly explain,
Unless experienced, there’s nothing more to dispute or claim.
Siberian Winter’s Song--hearing our prayerful creed.
We forged ahead so boldly, like innocent and hopeful lambs,
Trusting our faith to see us through--all logic be damned.
One dissenting voice demanded a vote be openly declared,
Asking native Yakutians be passed, so we might be spared.
Siberian Winter’s Song--native Yakutians taking the lead.
Time stood still, like the frozen lakes, rivers and streams,
As we prayed for an early thaw, to bring a welcome reprieve.
Our mission accomplished, surveys and reports all in hand,
Knowing in time, we would return to this God forsaken land.
Siberian Winter’s Song--finding good reason to concede.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from such an adventure,
Is that in the end, hoping for the best, is all that matters.
For in the broader picture of life’s dreams and schemes, It's the Siberians and their horses to ensure we succeed
Siberian Winter's Song—little else to do but leave.