Thursday, October 2, 2014

I can't find Autumn

Sometimes I am at a loss about what to blog about and yet I feel the need – must blog, haven’t blogged for 6 weeks, must blog, must blog…and so here I am sat at the laptop on a sunny Friday morning. Reuben has just begun his morning nap and I am listening to the competing sounds of the bread machine, the washing machine and the birds singing outside.

My thoughts are a jumble. There are so many things I could write about and yet nothing seems big or important enough. I feel overwhelmed by small stuff, but I am not sure any of it is the stuff of blogs. I am momentarily put off, distracted by other things I could or should be doing, and yet…

Something I have started thinking about in the last few days is seasons. People are posting pictures of their children playing in piles of leaves, friends here talk of yearning for ‘fall’ days and trying to wear orange scarves even though it’s too hot for scarves, and it has gradually dawned on me that this is the first autumn we have missed. In 2012 we experienced ‘fall’ in the US when we drove along North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway in late October – the colours were incredible, burning themselves into my memory with their intensity. Last year, we were in the UK with new baby Reuben and I remember walking through a forest near our home with him sleeping on my chest in the baby carrier. This year, there are no visual changes in my environment that refresh memories or thrill with their vividness. And yet, the more I ponder, the more I see that there are ‘seasons’ here – some that are predictable , but most that are not.

We have noticed that the jacaranda trees bloom at this time of year. The centre is a patchwork of purples and they are truly beautiful. Indeed, we have just planted some where the much missed trees were in our garden. They are tiny now, but we hope that they will grow. You can buy mangoes again at the market and the kingfishers are in residence for a time. Other markers recently have been the end of the financial year (here, it is the end of September), so everything has been shut for stocktake. Worst of all, the store was shut for over a week, but the inconvenience of its closure has now been replaced by the relief of reopening and the reminder of how lucky we are to be able to access so much, so much of the time. It is easy to forget that we live 5,000 feet up in the mountains and expect things to be the same as they are in the UK.

The seasons I feel the most here are those that occur in relation to people. July is the main time people leave for furlough (a year in your home country) and everyone braces for a time of loss. But then new people arrive and the cycle begins again. But other exits are more unpredictable – people suddenly disappear for a whole host of reasons and suddenly a season has changed and you had no warning. It’s unsettling, confusing and occasionally frustrating, but it is just part of life here and being in this job. And then there is the constant hum of homesickness that unpredictably starts to buzz so that you can’t ignore it and makes you spend hours languishing on facebook, emailing and yearning for family. It stings, it subsides into the background, it stings, it subsides, it becomes like a season that I dread and yet desire.

On the home front it feels more like we are navigating milestones than seasons as Reuben grows and develops. He is really walking now and into everything. He is weaning, stacking rather than destroying, opening and closing doors, trying to talk, sharing, finding his ‘will’, waving, high-fiving, mimicking, making friends, wearing shoes, moving things, exploring and and and…surprising us with his energy, yet reminding us of his vulnerability. He is even experiencing some independence as I begin some teaching again in the next few weeks. He is very sociable so we hope that going to nursery regularly will be fun for him. But it’s definitely a season change for him and me. I am going to teach a short course on basic critical thinking skills to new Papua New Guinean Bible translators. I haven’t taught adults before, so no doubt it will be a steep learning curve.

I told you that my thoughts were a jumble, but here they are anyway. Now, I must hang out the laundry, finish dealing with today’s vegetable haul from the market and do some more lesson plans before Reuben wakes up. Tell autumn that we miss her.

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