Almost four weeks ago we piled five humans, four suitcases, one piano, two guitars, one ballet barre, one piece of Marley flooring (on which to practice ballet) and one upright double bass into a car.
Well, that’s a slight exaggeration since we did two trips, because clearly there is not a car on planet earth big enough, in which to fit all our stuff. This is what comes of spawning creative kids. Their stuff comes too. And sometimes their stuff takes up a vast amount of space. And yes I absolutely should have stood my ground when we were having the violin vs double bass convo several years ago but hey, here we are.
Fortunately my kids have a dad who would do a round trip to Mars if they asked him to.
So we are in the countryside. And its delightfully green.
I hadn’t realised how stressed I was. How claustrophobic I was. How withered my creative soul felt.
Four weeks in nature and I can breathe again.
We are staying in a wonderful artists residence which is full of sculptures and original art. There are pheasants in the garden –pheasants for goodness sake – and deer too. The other day while I was writing outside, a Coyote skulked past. He saw me at the exact same moment that I spied him. We locked eyes, my breath was caught – I wondered if his was too - and then as silently as he appeared, he was gone. I blinked as the white tip of his tail disappeared into the tree’s - glancing over my shoulder to see if anyone else had seen, but I was caught all alone in the moment. And then the moment was gone.
I’ve actually been researching coyotes this past year for a book I've been working on and when I saw this one I actually momentarily assumed it was a domestic dog – you see, I’ve been researching urban coyotes who have adapted to nocturnal living in highly populated cities, but this was the middle of the afternoon – full daylight – and for a moment I’d forgotten that that is their norm in the wild.
It was a rare moment. Beautiful and solitary. It made my heart feel alive.
And then there are the groundhogs. Many, many groundhogs. Like these things could take over the world - or at least America. Now there's a thought...
An Emily- fess-up –
So the first groundhog we saw, we had to google to find out what it was (yes, I know. But I doubt if you Americans would recognise a common shrew if you came across one, or that you wouldn’t get wholly excited if you spotted an English hedgehog. Just saying.) I have to admit I was very surprised and not a little excited because I realised I had actually spent my entire life thinking that they weren’t actually a real thing. I mean, I knew they were a thing, but I thought they were some kind of mystical or magical creature that only get spotted on the rarest of occasions and bring good luck or something. Clearly not because they are everywhere. That would be a whole lot of luck, and I’m not feeling the lucky vibes in the world right now.
So there you have it. It took our family just four years to morph from wild-hearted barefoot in the bush, Africa family to wide-eyed marvel at groundhogs and squeal at big-bugs urban city family.
How fickle we humans are.
Seriously, our time here has been a gift. A time to reflect. To reconnect. To notice beauty.
I’m sad that in just a few days we must return to oppressive heat and humidity of August in the city. Then again, NYC seems like might be the safest place in America right now. Really - from an English lass’s POV, I have to say, I think the rest of this country has gone totally bonkers. Or perhaps they were always bonkers. Or perhaps the pandemic has simply revealed the levels of bonkers-ness that was always lying dormant under the surface.
Really people. Just wear your chuffing mask!
Back to my life --
This year will be heavy handed. Not only will we be navigating NYC and part-time school/ life/family etc amidst the new Covid-19 norms, but we will also be in transition. We know that in June 2021 we will be relocating back to Europe. We have been away for fifteen years, but it’s time to head home. Maybe just for a season. We will see.
I’ve done this many times before – I know the practical and logistical challenges of moving a family of five across continents. I also know the heart journey. And this time it will be acutely harder for the kids. They are older, they will feel the losses more. The goodbye’s will cut more deeply.
But leave we must.
And we’ve adapted before. We will adapt again. Just like those wild-urban coyotes.
This is where I share snippets of my life. Some of it writing related, some of it just - life. It will be mostly ramblings, but if you too are a storyteller and are very lucky, you might occasionally find something useful :)