Leaving Europe was hard, really hard and there were several times on the flights over that I found myself hiding tears from my husband. Eventually, I took myself off to the bathroom and gave myself a stern talking to. As an Englishwoman, I have to keep something called 'stiff upper lip' and so this seemed to work.
I won't bore you with more about how much I love Europe and how much I'm going to miss it. That goes without saying. Instead I'll talk about what it's been like here so far on the huge chunk of land that lots of the Native Americans call Turtle Island.
To say it's strange and a mixed bag to be here should also go without saying. I feel rootless here, I have no ancestors buried here and there's so much I don't know about the land, the myths and hell, even basic stuff like the fact that over here, 'Entrees' on the menu means 'main course' and not 'appetisers'. Sure I've lived in places where I've had no bones in the land or cultural links before, but it was different because each time, the culture was obviously different as opposed to this deceptive feeling of similarity between American cultures and English (or indeed German).
On my second or third night here, my grandmother-in-law gave me a huge bag of knitting/crochet yarn, needles/hooks and pattern books. Some of these items came from my husband's mother, some from his grandmother and some from his great-grandmother.
This gift blew me away. There is so much history and so many stories with these knitting needles and crochet hooks. Tucked among the books are notes that the great grandmother made of all the people in her family she was going to make mittens for, their various sizes and colour preferences. This list is quite long. Other notes are dated and tell of growing children needing new mittens, mittens which she'd then knit up to keep her family warm in the frigid New England winters.
I can't crochet, but my husband's mother could and so I kind of feel pushed to learn. There is the most beautiful example of crochet I've ever seen, a fine lace doily that's already found its pair in my own grandmother's tablecloth which I've oathed to finish. Looking through these treasures, I felt a little less rootless and pulled out my grandmother's tablecloth, examining the stitches that my grandmother struggled to make until the arthritis and blindness stopped her.
These items are made with love, they're truly precious and in a weird way, I kind of feel a pressure from both my husband's female ancestors and my own to lovingly craft things for family, friends and my home. I think that would be the most perfect repayment for such a gift.
The next day, I started knitting a duckling to send to my niece. It's finished now and really very cute. I now have a baby whale on the go for another child.
This is one hell of an adjustment, but by the same measure, it's exciting. It's so pretty here and people have been very friendly so far. I'm now in a land where bears, moose and coyotes aren't just something that you see on films, they might be in your backyard! The house where we're staying at the moment is surrounded by trees, a little way up there are goats and chickens and then you have a wooded hill with the most amazing rocks on it, dumped by the slowly receding glaciers way back when. Some of them reminded me of the 'fairy rocks' from back home and being a tactile person, I ran my hands over them. At that moment, it got a little easier, I stopped feeling down about everything I'd left behind in Germany and England and decided that I want to learn about this land and thrive instead of being wary of the bears and moose and coyotes and whatever else there is that is strange to me. I want to discover this big nature.
And then probably poke it with a stick.
Just kidding :P.