Arkady described how the breath of a reindeer herd crystallized and fell like snow. He talked about salmon runs on Sakhalin, the white-headed eagles of the Aleutians and waterspouts that danced around the Bering Sea. He'd never thought before of what a catalog of experiences his exile had brought to him, how unique and beautiful they were, what clear evidence that on no day could a man be sure he should not open his eyes.
They had a lunch of microwaved pizza. Delicious.
He told her how the first wind of the day approaching through the taiga made the million trees shiver like black birds taking flight. He talked about oil field fires that burned year-round, beacons that could be seen from the moon. He described walking from trawler to trawler across the Arctic ice. Sounds and sights not afforded most investigators.
They had red wine.
He talked about workers on the "slime line," the dark hold where fish were gutted in a factory ship, and how each individual was a separate mind with a fantasy unconfined by gunwales or decks - a defender of the Party who had taken to the sea in search of romance, a botanist who dreamed of Siberian orchids, each person a lamp on a separate world.
After finishing the wine, they had brandy.
He described the Moscow he had found on his return. Center stage, a dramatic battlefield of warlords and entrepreneurs; behind it, as still as a painted backdrop, eight million people standing in line. Yet there were moments, the occasional dawn when the sun was low enough to find a golden river and blue domes, and the entire city seemed redeemable. - From Red Square