Our First Canadian Thanksgiving 2007
This missive is a small attempt to capture and to communicate aspects, pieces and/or insights into what it means to first move, second move to a new community far from family and friends, and third move to another country. I have known for several years that the decision to expatriate in order to divorce our taxes from the war machine that the US has become and to take up residence in a country that, although a member of the coalition of the willing, is not imperialistic and has retained a focus on its people that our democracy has lost was going to be challenging in many ways that could not be anticipated.
As an immigrant to this country, Canada, there is much to learn about its history, culture and values. It will take more time and much attentiveness to develop an understanding of this new land, sometimes referring to itself as a “Nation of Immigrants”and its people.
Chai is brewing on the stove for the first time. (For those who know that I make my own Chai each morning as a way to start my day, this is an important marker in my transition to a new home.) I sit here at our small café table in front of the sliding glass doors looking past the porch, past the orchard, past the giant Ponderosa pines that stand like sentries around the property, down the ravine and valley to the expanse of water which is the Okanagan Lake and then to the small rocky rolling hills beyond. It is a beautiful view. The massiveness of the water equals the drama of the Flatirons of Boulder Colorado that have been my constant companion for the last 14 years. I have moved from earth to water as the “ground’ in my life. Water is about transition; its flows and cuts gently and sometimes violently through the earth to create valleys and canyons. It is appropriate that, at this point in our lives which is all about change, our constant companion in this valley is this beautiful lake.
People have asked how I am doing and I ask myself that off and on as well. Interestingly enough I am just fine, at the moment. I think that this is because I am living very day-to-day and I am present with this experience. I believe that I am overwhelmed and this keeps me in the moment. The move was physically and emotionally hard. Both Mark and I have lost many pounds and are pulling our pants up. (For me that just makes everyone I am meeting think that I was a ballet dancer sometime in the past. This might also be because when you are in the presence of ballet dancers you automatically stand up straight, align your spine, pull your center of gravity up and out. I probably look a whole lot taller than I am as a result.)
Most days I spend being grateful for what I have in life even though this move has been hard forcing me to look at what it means to be courageous and cultivate fearlessness. I am thankful for all the friends that called to give us moral support, offered to help us and came for hours, some on several occasions, to help pack, and those who brought food and provided hugs when needed, who had flowers at the Ballet Kelowna office when I arrived and who shooed Mark out of the house at the end. I am grateful for Mark who busted his proverbial buns and stayed behind after I left for Canada to start my job and packed up the rest of the house which was overwhelming, despite the fact that we tried to get rid of 50% of what we owned before we left. (He was the one left to manage two moving sales and move my bees to Sandy’s house with yet more friends) I am grateful for my daughter Cait who drove up here with me and worked to clean the house and paint to make this home our own. I am grateful for the kindness, friendliness and neighborliness of everyone we have met in Canada. Entry could not have been easier as we find we must “rely on the kindness of strangers.”
This is Thanksgiving in Canada and we have a lot to be thankful for. (We have even been invited to our friends Kathy and Dave’s for dinner tomorrow.)
So that is the nice touchy-feely stuff, but what is the reality? Well, we learned everything that was wrong with the house we had been living in for 16 years and what had to be fixed, painted, or replaced before it could be rented. (Thank goodness for Beth of Boulder who managed this for us; I don’t think one can ever repay that kind of help.)We are learning everything that is wrong with this house. But at least we finally have heat. And heat is necessary when fall comes unusually early at this latitude. I am glad to be warm. The hot flashes that I have just come to experience don’t last long enough when the nights dip to 5 degrees centigrade and it is only October. I learned how to network our computers, (thanks to yet more friends) and got us all set up with new Canadian email addresses for work.
I had better become expert in irrigation systems and mower repair before next spring because caring for an orchard is a BIG responsibility. Oh yes and I am learning a new math measurement (metric) and I have to learn the Kings, actually Queens, English. When I write grants, I am misspelling everything and spell check doesn’t catch it!However, it is sort of a relief to walk into offices and see the Queen smiling at me instead of George W. It’s quaint but quite real. I live in a bilingual country where every label is in French and English. This country mayspeak English and share a border with the US, but it has its own culture and I am an immigrant. What an experience. Thank goodness I thrive on learning. Thank goodness friends are only a phone call away.
We share this lovely land with quite a lot of wildlife that,of course, call it their own, as it is theirs as well. Mark is competing with the squirrels to harvest the walnuts first. The bears got all the fruit in August and only visited the first few weeks that we were here just to make sure they got it all. (Now they off down at the creek fishing for Kocannee Salmon as they swim up to spawn beneath Hardy Falls below our property.) The coyotes come through on an evening and drive Cleo nuts.There are cougars in the hills and we will have deer before too long and possibly some elk. It is going to be lot of work to restore this land and to do so organically and in partnership with the wildlife that lives here. But I figure it has been left for about three or four years waiting for us to get here that it will probably wait for us to get it all in balance during the next three to four years. We are going to do it by moving out in concentric circles from the house, pruning and caring for the trees closest and moving out through the property. It’s a plan anyway for what is a big job.
The computer’s battery needs charging and I need to go up and finish painting the trim in the guest room so we can put down the new carpet. Then we are off to see the company, Ballet Kelowna performing Lake Country just north of Kelowna. They are amazing! I am honored to work for such a committed and talented group of artists. More about that later.
Much love & don’t forget to come visit. The guest rooms are nearly ready.