Warmth in the cold

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In the early 1990s, the world's attention was riveted on the Soviet bloc. Political and economic systems there were rapidly unraveling. The Monitor sent me to help cover the story.

This photo was taken in the Arbat, a freewheeling capitalist market in the heart of Moscow, where both street artists and con artists plied their wares.

Signs of crisis were everywhere: long lines to buy food; cash-strapped pensioners selling their meager possessions on the street. Moscow was still waging a savage war in Afghanistan. Weeks before, a bloody coup attempt had failed to oust then-President Gorbachev.

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This tableau of a soldier and his girl strolling past made all the tumult fade into the background. It was no longer a cold fall day in a deeply troubled capital city. Is it the caring look she gives him? His bashful response? The shared irony of a summer treat in autumn?

Ice cream on a cold day warmed the scene. It might have been the Boardwalk on the Jersey shore, the Santa Monica Pier in August, an Elks' picnic in Iowa. For this moment, at least, all was well.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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