Tuesday, 19 January 2010

And here it is....

This week our daughter set off to Australia to live and it felt really strange. I felt like I should have been there at the airport waving goodbye, but couldn't as she was setting off from England and I am here in Latvia. I have to say I didn't think I would feel like that, after all she left home 7 years ago this month and we have moved several times in between. I think it is strange how feelings can hit you like that, for years you accept things and things change and then suddenly an emotion hits you and your left thinking "where did that come from?"  The emotions I felt seemed to belong to a time long gone, but maybe in the busyness of moving myself seven years ago meant that I didn't have time to let emotions like that surface. Oh well! Life goes on and I am excited for my daughter as she starts on her new life and look forward to where that will lead, so it is not all sadness.

All of our family have moved around a lot in the last 7 years, some moves have meant moving to different countries and some just moving around in England, most of us are on our fourth move and our youngest on his fifth if you don't count staying in a place for less than a month. Some people would find that unsettling and they would miss their "home" but I have never felt like that. There are certain things I have loved about each place that I have lived in. In England I love fish and chips and the Derbyshire countryside, in Denmark I liked being able to get around by bike without the fear of being run over and I did like our Danish house, in America I loved the wide open spaces and the sense of majesty of the mountains and in Latvia I love the pace of the village life and the gentle philosophical people I have met. In each place we have met some lovely people and been sad to leave them but excited about the new relationships we have made, but in all of that the question is "where is home?" Where is home to you? For many ex-pats they still talk of going home in conversations, but to me I am home, wherever that maybe. Home to me is wherever God is and it is not a place but a sense of his presence. I love the description in a blog, Stories from the Street about home:-

"Home does not need to be defined by bricks and mortar. It was said of the early Celts that they carried home on their backs; forever mobile they had learnt that the inner place of being wasn’t dependant on the trappings of life but rather in the mementos and tender trophies that came out of the knapsack of their heart."

I think that is a beautiful way of putting it and pretty much how I feel about home.

I know the snow has been a nuisance for some in the UK but we have been loving it out here. We can't get out in the garden, it is under a foot of snow at least, and Ian can't get out in the forest as there is that much snow attached to the trees he would be under a constant cascade, which in -15C or colder is no joke. So we have been making the most of it and going out with our snow shoes, or trying a bit of skiing and generally relaxing. There was one day it was too cold to go out so we spent time watching the birds out on the balcony trying to hammer away at a mix of cake, bread and fat which had set like concrete in the cold. This way of life helps me understand why in some cultures winters are for weddings, when it is cold outside and you can't do anything then why not celebrate something, there is more time to prepare and for the agriculturists they will be busy the rest of the year. Letting the seasons set the pattern rather than fighting it is one thing we are learning and in many ways have been learning for many years through the growing of vegetables.

Not everything has come to a stop with the cold weather though, our Swedish friend started on our other apartment this week and is sorting out the room with the toilet in it, which needed replastering. Not very exciting you may think until we get phone calls saying "I was taking the plaster off the bricks and some bricks have fallen into the chimney, what do you want me to do with it?" He did say before he started that he wasn't very sure about the plaster on the wall as it looked odd. Well what we thought was a chimney wasn't exactly a chimney going up to the roof it was a badly built indoor flue that exited via a pipe to another chimney that did go up to the roof. The indoor flue was not necessary and so it has been removed making our little room slightly bigger which is a bonus. Hopefully there are no more calls like that.

The cold hasn't prevented a car rally in the village either and Ian took the time to go and see the cars racing around on the ice roads that we have around here. I meanwhile shovelled snow away from our polytunnel frame - a warmer proposition. Ian has always loved rallies as long as I have known him and one of the first things Ian took me to when we started going out was a car rally in Clumber Park in February, so I know about standing around in the cold waiting for cars to come racing past, unfortunately the thrill of watching the cars sliding around corners and powering up the straights just doesn't have the same effect on me. Still Ian got some good pictures and I got some exercise so a successful morning all round.

As I said before, in England they have been finding the snow tough and part of the reason for that is that it is not a common event. How do you prepare for something that only comes once in 30 years? What resources do you have on standby? A blog entry on Transition Culture made wonderful reading by highlighting the problems of the snow in a place not prepared for it, as well as bringing out some of the unexpected benefits as people adjust and embrace the change, and as communities come together instead of expecting the Government to come in and sort it all out. What shines through though is the beauty of the snow and the thrill of adapting to the unexpected and in our moans and complaints we can miss all of that. Being stocked up for the unexpected is always a good idea, after all if you are sick for a couple of days then you don't have to worry about what you are going to eat, or if there is a massive flu epidemic affecting the shops you won't starve but will muddle through, or if it snows again then their will be no need to panic but the preparation allows you the space to embrace the change, enjoy the different pace or just enjoy the camaraderie of people pulling together.

Latvia has been in the news a lot because of the crisis and so it is bizarre that in this time of economic recession a Latvian coin wins a competition, the coin of the year award for 2010. Does this say something about the Latvian economy for this year? Or just one of the bizarre twists in the story of this small out of the way country? Well my prayer is for the former that the coin speaks of unexpected rewards for the economy of Latvia.


  1. Like you, having lived in various places, I have never become attached to the bricks and mortar. It is right to say 'home is where the heart is' and as Paul says 'in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content'. The world has such variety for us to enjoy!

    I couldn't help thiking in the spiritual realm all you were saying about the seasons and going with what is happening now and being ready for the unexpected. What is in the natural is reflected in the spiritual.

    Lovely photos as always. Is the blue tit one of your visitors or is it a photo from another occasion? Here they reckon that a good percentage of our birds die from the cold in the winter, so I guess it must be really difficult for them in places like Latvia.

  2. Glad I am not the only one Mavis not attached to the bricks and mortar, even when I became a Christian it was a sense of coming home and that has stayed with me.

    I am with you on preparing spiritually for the unexpected. We have an prolonged time of cold here in Latvia, longer than many have known which brings it own problems but as I write this the we have a rose kissed dawn and it is beautiful. There is beauty even in the hard times and I think that is part of the preparation, looking for the beauty in the hard times.

    The blue tit is one of our visitors, we also have a couple of nuthatches, lots of great tits, willow tits and yesterday we saw a bullfinch.

  3. Perhaps this is why we are all connected via blogs - I also am not bothered by bricks and mortar and find that wherever I live is home. In fact when we were traveling a lot and camping a lot Ben and Tabi even use to call the tent home. In fact even on holiday now wherever we are staying is "home" which is why its all very strange to not be moving on. I seem to move every 3 years and this will be our 3rd wedding anniversary and we are building a chicken run and looking well and truly like we are staying put!!!!

    Loved the seasons bit too

  4. It is interesting the way friendships develop over distances today Diane. We don't have to live next door to someone to be an encouragement to them, I still like flesh and blood chats though and I love meeting new people.

    I know what you mean about moving, having moved three times in the last 7 years and here we are planning to plant and sow which sounds like we will be here a while, I am beginning to miss the travelling though. Maybe excursions with this as a base? Who knows!

  5. What a great article, Joanna, and beautiful photographs. What is that bird?
    I especially enjoyed this sentence: "What shines through though is the beauty of the snow and the thrill of adapting to the unexpected and in our moans and complaints we can miss all of that."
    Living in England, one half of our reaction to prolonged snowy weather is "isn't it absolutely beautiful?" while the other reactions is "Grrr - everything has ground to a halt and why are vegetables suddenly so expensive?!!".
    Nice one. I have never been attached to a particular location or property, although all have had their attractions (just like you). It's by far the best way to be.

  6. Thanks Danny. The bird is a blue tit, we only have a couple of those, most of our visitors are great tits. We also have a nuthatch visit and if I remember I will post a picture of it.

    Another complaint in snowy weather in the UK is "Why isn't the council doing something?" Not what can we do to help get things moving again. Everyone would moan soon enough when council charges go up to be able to keep everything clear.

    It is quite liberating to not be attached to bricks and mortar, a lot less stressful


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