Tuesday, August 26, 2008

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Kitchen Garden

Vegetable Garden


Peace Flags on Front Porch
I had no idea how it would feel to come “home” to Ohio. I have visited twice in the past two years, but visiting home is like taking a nap on an old bed; it feels right and comfortable, but it is just not long enough to know for sure if your back is going to hurt. Living in Slovenia on the border of Italy is an incredible adventure. Each day we are discovering new places, struggling with language, meeting new people, and wading through the adventure and challenges of two cultures. Some times we are so tired of not understanding, of getting lost, of being continuously confused that we crave familiar normalcy and a place where we can understand every inane thing that is said. But the familiar eases out adventure, and at home we found ourselves searching hard to discover the new and interesting. Would we simply fall into old patterns when we returned? Would the sameness seem dull or comforting? Would the familiar be cozy or uninteresting? Would family and friends be curious about what has changed us, or are we expected to slide back into being the people of the past?

Our home stood breathlessly waiting for us. The trees and bushes lined up for inspection showing how tall they had grown in 3 years; the flower gardens hung their heads in shame because the weeds had invaded and the gardens had lost the war, and the field laughed in wild flower joy. On my first morning at the house I brewed myself a cup of coffee, fluffed milk for a latte and settled in my quiet ritual of rocking on the porch until the coffee is gone. But the hummingbird had other ideas. No one had feed him in 2 years and he was unhappy; buzzing my head on the porch unhappy. So before I could even finish my coffee I had to find the feeder, mix him a cocktail of sugar water and feed him his treat so that I could have a little peace. This same hummingbird has been returning to my feeders for around 6 years I think; but they all look alike. He always comes begging the beginning of May and if I don’t have the feeders out he searches for me. One year I was in my studio on the second floor at the back of the house where there was never a feeder and he found me. He hung at the window fluttering his tiny wings until I got up and filled the feeder, as if to say “Mom, come on I’m home, where’s the food”. He doesn’t search for Bob; he somehow knows that I am the dealer for his sugar habit.

Bob came home the beginning of February and he did an enormous amount of work on the house; keeping it safe during the -17° F temperatures, repairing things, painting rooms to cover renter nicks and finger prints and he planted the vegetable garden with some flowers for me. So I came home to the house that felt like my home. It is delightfully peaceful here. The stream that fills the neighbor’s pond from the artesian well across the street snickers all year long, constantly reminding us that she carries secrets from deep in the earth. The song birds dance in streaks of yellow, red, blue and orange, calling to each other from perches on high and serenading us early in the morning. Bob also moved the hot-tub from the master bathroom to the back patio and where we can celebrate the setting sun from the depth of hot water. Now home seems like a fancy resort with luxury in our back yard. We are so very blessed!

We have found in other visits home that contact with family and friends is very different than we expected. People ask “Do you like living over there?” “Are you home to stay?” When we answer yes to the first question and no to the second the conversation comes to a screeching halt. There seems to be no more interest in what we have done, what we are doing and who we are becoming. The conversation quickly oozes to the local gossip, the quality of playing by the Cleveland Indians, the romantic encounters of music and movie celebrities or diatribes about recent illnesses. Generally people seem to not be curious about what we are doing. That is strange for us because we are so fascinated by the experiences of other people, that we thought people would be fascinated by ours. After sharing stories one friend said “You make me feel like I am doing nothing with my life.” Her comment makes me wonder if that is how our stories make others feel. Rather than feeling interested and excited with us the conversations make them feel badly for themselves. We of course hope that our choices can help inspire others to take the risk and do the things that they have always wanted to do and live life without regret, but it doesn’t seem that way.

This summer has been a garden holiday. We have reestablished some of the flower beds, grown the vegetables for our dinners, and built a wildflower labyrinth. It has been a time of reclaiming the home that we designed and built with our own hands. It has been a time of reading, talking, visiting and sharing. It has been a time of great contentment.

Our plans now are to live in Slovenia for 6 months during the school year and 6 months in Ohio working the land. We both will have part time teaching jobs in Nova Gorica and we will call Ĺ empeter our Slovene home for another year. We hope to return to Ohio in April, reestablish Thistlefink Gardens, sell flowers and take full advantage of both of our homes and all they have to offer.

Hummingbird friend

Garden Harvest

Red and Black Raspberries picked with friend Carson