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Russian-born woman, family revel in cold weather

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Updated: March 4, 2014 6:18AM



While cold and snow give most people the urge to hunker down inside, the elements are heaven — and a little taste of her former home — for Natalia Ermasova.

On Sunday, after the latest storm deposited a fresh blanket of snow on the Southland, she, her two daughters and her father, visiting from Russia, grabbed hockey sticks, strapped on skates and slapped a tennis ball around on a Homewood ice rink.

They also took advantage of a park district sledding hill next to Willow School, putting all that new snow to good use.

Ermasova and her daughters — Polina and Eugenia — said it’s not in their nature to stay inside, no matter the weather.

“For us it’s a great time,” she said.

They emigrated to the U.S. from Russia five years ago, settling on Homewood as their home on the advice of one of Ermasova’s instructors at Governors State University. Cold, snowy winters were common where she grew up, and people always made the best of it, she said.

“Everybody would be sledding or skiing,” she said.

Her father, Boris Bogacski, is near the end of a five-month visit with his daughter and granddaughters and soon will return to Russia, where he is a professional tennis coach, Ermasova said. While here, he’s given some lessons to Polina, a member of the varsity tennis team at Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

Bogacski, who turns 69 on Valentine’s Day, has been skating since he was 4 years old, and on the rink with his daughter and granddaughters he had moves like Bobby Hull. His daughter said her father skis, having won several competitions, and also enjoys soccer.

Two guys who don’t get much time to play in the snow, especially this winter, were finishing up plowing and salting the parking lot at Willow School.

Kevin Keane and Brian Hill are maintenance workers for Homewood School District 153, and it takes about two hours to clear the lots at each of the three schools they’re responsible for, Keane said.

Although the pickup he drives with a blade attached to the front end clearly indicates it’s District 153 property, “we get people looking to hire us out” to clear driveways, said Keane, a Chicago Heights resident.

Hill, from Bourbonnais, mainly is responsible for taking care of the grounds around the schools and assists Keane with repairs and maintenance inside the buildings. Unless it’s an emergency, some inside work has to take a back seat to clearing snow when a major storm hits, Keane said.

“Everything kind of gets put on hold,” he said. “The kids come first.”

Looking at mounds of snow piled on the fringes of the school’s parking lot, Keane said he’s been putting in a lot of hours in his truck.

“This year’s definitely been a lot of plowing,” he said. “It takes its toll on you.”

The week began with a rodent in Pennsylvania purportedly predicting that an early spring isn’t in the offing and a forecast that includes below-zero lows Wednesday and Thursday nights and a significant snowstorm moving into the area Tuesday.



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