Wednesday, February 17, 2016


We left Burlington on an icy winter's morning, when the temperature was -14C and a snowstorm was chasing up the East Coast. If we'd left on a later plane, we wouldn't have made it out of Chicago. As it was, we had the smoothest journey ever - no delays, easy connections, calm flights - and landed back in Auckland on a bright summer's day and 29C.

And look who met us in the airport in Palmerston North!

For the first week, all was chaos. The decorating that was supposed to be finished before we came home turned out to be a bigger job than expected so furniture and books were spread randomly throughout the house. At work, our School had moved buildings: the contents of my previous office had been dumped in the middle of my (beautiful) new office in boxes, and I couldn't unpack because there were no shelves or filing cabinets.

At the farm, the weeds in the orchard were shoulder high.


 Add to that the relentless, remarkable heat, a brand new puppy who cried on the first night and had to come into bed with us, and the worst case of jetlag Bruce and I have ever had and - well, it was challenging.

BUT within a week, everything had been restored to something close to order: our stunning new bookcase finished, wallpapering completed, office shelves put up and boxes unpacked, we had all fallen in love with Luca (who had agreed to sleep through the night but decided to continue his Reign of Destruction and Mayhem throughout the day).  
Who could not fall in love with this darling boy?

Salvo was blissfully happy to be home and remarkably tolerant of the new baby brother who hung off his ears and tried to eat his feet.

And Rose was home - oh, Rose was home!


Waitangi Day came and, as promised, we shaped it as a New Zealand Thanksgiving. This year it was just family (because that's all I had the headspace to organise - next year we shall be more ambitious). Ed came up from Wellington and Anne-Marie from Whanganui and we made a full weekend of it. A wonderful dinner with the family (and FIVE dogs!) on Saturday night.

 Breakfast at the farm on Sunday included Karen's breakfast casserole - which tastes just as good under a golden summer sky as it does on an icy watercolour winter's morning beside a blazing fire.

On Sunday evening, Jenah came to join us - fresh home from Japan - and we had a girls' evening: a marathon viewing of Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version, naturally). Lizzy was decidedly not impressed by her namesake's initial rejection of Mr Darcy's proposal. "But he was trying to express his emotions!" she raged, " and he never has done that before, and he was really trying,  and she was just MEAN!" - and nothing Elizabeth Bennett did after that could in any way win her round. In fact, she considered Lady Catherine de Burgh's comments quite reasonable. Hmmmm.

I was so sad to leave Vermont, I hadn't thought I'd be happy to be home. But I am. It is wonderful to be back in my own home, surrounded by family and friends, to watch the dogs jump through the long dry grass at the farm under a bright blue sky, to walk in the arboretum amongst trees of every shade of green with the cicadas almost deafening and the sweet scent of tree fern and jasmine and honeysuckle in the air. And yet, even after a month, it feels so strange. I said to Bruce, "Vermont feels like a million miles away - and yet strangely close." And instead of snorting, he said "yes, it's like you could close your eyes one night and wake up by the lake." Which is precisely how it feels.

I feel - to use a very clumsy metaphor - as if I'm living in a split screen where one side is all soft pastels, muted edges and eerie shadows and the other is as golden and green and heat-hazy as a van Gogh painting. And in a way I've always lived like this, perhaps every immigrant does, always lived with two places simultaneously in my head and heart. Such a life could be seen as constantly living with absence and loss - always longing for that which is far away. But that's not entirely how I experience it. It's a richness, a great richness to live this way.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back, Lisa. I like the approach you suggest: rather than missing what you've left, appreciating what you've returned to. That's a wonderful attitude for any traveller.