We were told a few months ago, regarding China: “One who has been in China for 3 months is an expert on China. One who has been there for 6 months knows a good deal about China. After a few years one knows a thing or two about China. After 10 years in China one knows nothing about it.”
Right now, after just 6 months here in Northern Sweden, I feel like I know nothing.
All I do know is I long for a walk on a hot sunny stretch of sand, with flipflops in hand and a wide-brimmed hat across my face. That is not going to happen really soon. We are also learning that the best way to take things is just day by day. And see the differences we can see and feel from our own experiences.
Like right now, reeling out from under the fourth bout with flu/cold in the last 6 months. And this was VIKING flu. With strong, bulky arms that held us down for a few days.
It was not easy to stay in bed on the first days of flu when we had seen good sun for a while… to be kept under sheets trying to kick off muscle pain. But the view out the window was blue skies and green leaves, which was not too awful.
That right there is a big difference.
Seeing all white before us. And having to dress in layers to go sit in the sun. And to dress in several layers not to sit in the sun but just to go and get the engine heater on, or throw out the trash.
But I have learned to value each ray of sunshine and the heat it brings. And each ray rocks.
So here are a few other differences we have experienced for ourselves:
This is something we did not experience in Africa. Where on earth do dust bunnies come from?
Huge piles of fur gather all over the house. We have no pets. We do not shed (well, not that much). We have considered if Deon should take up another Masters degree or pursue a PhD in the Proliferation and Unexpected Exponential Rapid Growth of Hyper-social Communities of Spontaneously Generated Micro Fiber.
See how it congregates in mass assemblies? Every few hours. Just like that. Such things do not exist in Africa.
There you just get dust.
This difference is especially for our SA friends. If you want to, you may print it out and paste it on the fridge. Or IN the fridge, to see what a light in a fridge looks like. We have working lights. And plugs. Not one single outage since arriving. This is very strange after our time in Uganda, Tanzania and most recently SA where regular power outages occur.
We so appreciate this phenomenon and do not take it for granted.
Just to keep us in touch, we have had water issues. We cannot have it all.
Following tracks looks rather different.
We loved tracking what had been around us in the dust. Now we look at tracks in the snow. At the end of the link above we show a dear SA rodent.
These are some of our dear daily visitors now.
He is not normally so shy… Come on out…
Such gorgeous little friends! And where we had huge diversity in our SA garden, now we relish the birds that come feed so regularly.
The domherre (bull finch) and nutcrackers we see are now OURS. We do not simply share them with others. Others might feed them too, but we so delight in the visits of blåmes (blue tits) and taltittas and the other regulars that they are ours. And we do not share the view out of our side window with any other person. (What bliss!) so the birds are ours while we see them.
And we even had these beauties visit for a while the other morning:
Reindeer! The third image is to show you the view from inside the kitchen… Reindeer to the right of the image.
We had hoped for such views when we moved up to the ‘Wilderness’ of Sweden, but have not seen much of the bigger stuff in the forests yet. This was a wonderful surprise to view, after our days of being spoilt on the farm with a variety of antelope coming to drink just in front of us.
Do you see this difference? Along our road: not one single fence. Not even a teensy tiny one. Definitely not an 8 foot high, electrified one. No (constantly locked) security gates. No burglar bars in the windows. The school has an alarm system because of its equipment, but there are no fences there either. We have been told that on really cold days people leave car engines running when they go into the store, and nobody remains in the car. We have been out walking at 11 at night, with no fear for our wellbeing. This is the safest county in Sweden, where the police are in the office 2 mornings a week… because they do not really need to be in this town more often than that. There is crime, but it is dealt with and the amount is not nearly what we have been used to. A friend had a cash box returned after it fell off the car roof: all money still inside, key in the lock. The police helped locate the owners from the slips inside, linked to a store reward system. There are still people like this, who show great integrity. We appreciate it, relish each moment of being able to live in such security, but still lock our doors and keep all valuables out of sight. Just in case. (We are ingrained Gautengers)
We have new kinds of constantly evolving garden decor. The sculpture outside the kitchen window has taken on new forms with the wind and melting days, and has also been a fun playground for the squirrels to run through. Icicles are not a common sight in Jo’burg itself ( Meyerton and down SOUTH are not Jo’burg). And we would NEVER see them in Hoedspruit! This selection of icicles is just amazing!
And we get amazing new sunset and sunrise views.
We are at the phase of our emigration where we are longing. For sunshine, yes. For biltong, YES! Even more, for the daily life that was so ‘normal’ – in South Africa, Uganda and in Tanzania. We had 3 month stints in East Africa, and had a 3 week break from the ‘madness’ of the unknown. We have been here for over 6 months, and are longing for that 3 month break… or just a weekend of quick camping in a game park. But our reality is very different now. Language still frustrates me terribly. Although I am half Swedish in heritage, this is NOT ‘my’ people, that I have grown up with. I miss “kulumaing” (speaking) Zulu with the ladies who pack the groceries in Africa. Here Deon does the packing while I pay (we have a finely tuned system) and the people running the cash registers do not get it if I throw a ‘Sawubona Sissie. Kunjani?’.
But we know we cannot return to SA. And there is a reason for our being here. So we will wade through dust bunnies and snow piles, enjoy each squirrel’s visit and each precious sunbeam, while we know that each moment is working out for something eternal. And I am sure rather soon we will be considering this as our beloved new ‘normal’ (Whatever that concept means…).
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Cor 4:17)