During the heat of the summer, I picked up The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Valliant, the true story of a man-eating tiger in Russia and the team of men and dogs hunting it down.  The book plunges you into the taiga of Russia, introducing you to new frigid forests and the creatures and people that inhabit it.  In addition, as many reviewers have noted, Valliant effectively incorporates the history of Russia and China's relationship and how tense the neighbors have been over the last century.  The book is as much a story about the amur tiger as it is about the East Russian people and the continued impact of perestroika.

One of the constant themes throughout the book is the biting, killing cold in Far East Russia, chilling to think about even amidst the burning summer in Texas.  It did, however, call in to mind my favourite aspects of winter - the coziness of a down-filled parka, fuzzy ear warmers, plush wool blanket, thermos of hot cocoa and tromping around light, fluffy snow in some shearling-lined, warm waterproof boots.  What is your favourite part of winter?

The Tiger