A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: A Tale of Two Homes

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13 August 2015

A Tale of Two Homes

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So we are three months in in Puerto Rico and about month 2 was when I started really thinking about home again. For two months, we were busy moving in, signing up for school, getting all of our documentation done for Act 20/22, learning how to get around via Google Maps (GPS doesn't work well here) and basically learning how to live in a hot, muggy climate in a slow and systematic culture. The Puerto Ricans we have met have been friendly for the most part, but efficiency is not prioritized. It has been a struggle to adapt.  I try to begin each day hoping to accomplish one thing.  ONE.  It doesn't mean a big thing either.  Examples might include:

Going to WalMart (for milk)
Going to See a House (for sale)
Finding School Shoes (ALL BLACK)
Filling out School Forms
Getting a Form Notorized
You get the gist...

Things that would be accomplished all in one day in Pennsylvania take a week, plodding through them one by one and trying to stay patient. We are used to it now, but we have also accepted that we don't particularly "like" living at this slower pace. We are adjusting, but we aren't fooling ourselves. I am also not trying to convince myself that I don't miss home...because I certainly do. I haven't missed it much this summer because I know Pennsylvania is just as hot (or HOTTER!) than Puerto Rico each day, but as fall draws near, I am realizing what I am missing out on. 

These pictures were taken in May shortly before we left for Puerto Rico.  I took a walk one night at dusk and snapped a few photos, trying to cement our woods, the stream, the meadow, the trees into my mind.  I wanted to remember what things looked like in May so that I could make them look better NEXT May.  I am always documenting the plants, the arrangement of light, the growth patterns of bushes and determining what to add and subtract each season. I won't be able to do much in November when we get back, but I might add in some bulbs to complement and balance those rhododendrons if the weather is mild.

I might chop back that ivy a bit more, or perhaps it will have grown over the bridge in a pleasing manner.  I have no idea right now.  I am very anxious to see. Living apart from your garden is a very strange sensation. I have left plenty of gardens and there is a clean break.  I might miss the tulips I planted, but never got to see come up.  I might think back fondly on that patch of mint and lambsear or the way those grape grew up over the arbor. I might even regret missing the chance to add in that persimmon tree when I had the chance.  It would have looked fabulous next to the apples.  In any case, the separation is a break up - a goodbye.  Leaving a garden for months at a time though is quite different. You cannot dwell on it much because the woods ARE going to take over a bit.  Though the grass will be mown and the grounds will be "kept", there is not a gardener to care for the colors and the shapes of the overall forest. The garden, however, is still YOURS and the care for it is still your heart and mind. Separated, but still intertwined.

We worked for days and weeks on that creek.  It might just look like a plain old creek to you, but when we moved in, that creek was slow and meandering, covered in patches of grasses and weeds, rocks covered in moss and half buried. Some of the cement slabs had broken and water went down under them instead of over and it was a bit of a wreck. Many days, waiting for the kids to come home off the bus, I would be down there with our two little kiddos moving rocks, plucking weeds and changing the patterns of the water.  We adjusted the stream so that it moved faster, crashed harder and made the "hidden" portions under the slabs more intentional. You might not have even noticed, but I did. I noticed every day that it was getting better and better and better and then we left. I wonder how much chaos has crept back in.

I don't wonder about the trees. They have been there for decades and they know their place in the woods.  They stand straight and leaf out each spring, dropping those leaves each fall in a hurry. They know what to do and the pruning we did last fall will get them through. I do miss them though. Here in Puerto Rico, the tall trees are the palms. They are stick skinny with big fluffy heads and are the majestic ones of the jungle. The mango trees are massive and laden down with fruit and the cashews were a fun new surprise to the arboretum in my head, but they are still not a true forest. I haven't quite pinned down what the real, intangible difference is between a jungle and a forest, but there definitely is one. Perhaps it is just a feeling of home. When you grow up among the massive trunks of oaks and the pelting of acorns, a palm tree just doesn't seem to fit in your memory of "forest". Perhaps it is the opposite for those who grow up in Florida, California or the Caribbean.

...and now I have rambled quite enough. I will see this forest again come Thanksgiving and am excited to rediscover it for a short time.  I will do what I can to hurry it back out of chaos and hope I can make it back before it wakens again. I will enjoy the fallen leaves and hope the snow comes once or twice before we head back to The Island. I do hope the snow starts to come down hard and fast just before we leave. I want to have and hate the snow and ice for just a little while so the sun and sand are a welcome diversion. Until then...

Goodnight lovely leaves.

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