- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
320

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
Here and there we see a few haystacks on the level
ground between the mountains ; so there is some sign
of men. In many places the soil looks black and rich ;
it must be good mould, and it is deep too, often several
feet, as one can see in the cuttings along the line. It
looks as if only waiting for the plough ; but there are no
men. It is asevere climate, though, here in northern
Manchuria. The mean temperature for the year is
below -2° C. (28*4° F.), and in winter it is liable to go
down below —50° C. ( —58° F.). The mean temperature
for January is about -26° C. ( -14-8° F.). But then the
summer is warm ; the mean temperature for July is over
20° C. (68° F.), and that is of course what matters most
to agriculture. And then there is this advantage
that, even if precipitation is slight, most of it occurs in
summer, on account of the southerly and south-easterly
winds that are then prevalent. The rainy season
usually begins in July. On the other hand, there is little
snow in winter, when the winds are mostly northerly
and north-westerly. The time will surely come when
this great expanse of steppes will be cultivated and
inhabited ; but it does one good to see such wealth of
land ; there is still room enough and to spare for
men on this little earth of ours.
At the stations here I met the first Chinese. They all
wore pigtails and looked splendid ; big, stout, powerful
frames, with a healthy, contented expression of face.
One involuntarily felt oneself to be in the presence of a
race that still has a future before it. It was curious,
however, to see what great differences there were among
these Chinese types ; some of the faces were long and
narrow, but most were broader and rounder. They
must be a very mixed race.
That it really is arid here on this prairie and on
these bare hills, and that this is the reason of the lack
320

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