When we moved to Canada for my four-month fellowship, we packed up the car, leaving a lot of room.
You can tell a lot about a person by what she packs for 16 weeks.
I took one small suitcase: a carry-on.
So did husband.
We packed a stash of gear we need for work: computers, ipads, and a printer.
I took a few books and a few documents, knowing that most of my written material is tucked away in my computer or on some hard drive.
For the kitchen, I packed my two best knives and the fancy ultra cooking pot—a sophisticated version of the crock pot.
At the last minute I figured we better pack pillows, a blanket, sheets and towels—just in the case the furnished house didn’t include bedding and bath items.
We made sure we had walking shoes and trekking poles: Vancouver Island is a haven for hikers.
Turns out we feel like we’re camping.
The house has many modern essentials: heat and light, gas and electricity, hot water and refrigerator, and washer and dryer.
And there are beds and sofas and chairs and tables and dishes and silverware and pans and microwave.
But it feels like camping when you don’t have a water pitcher, a colander or a potato peeler.
We found no storage containers for leftovers and had no clue where to stash trash and recycling.
When we buy packaged items, I save the plastic and cardboard: now I have makeshift tubs for storage.
I’ve repurposed shot glasses and drinking mugs for pens and toothbrushes.
Like camping, you learn about yourself when you move away from your home.
You learn what you take for granted.
I really miss my cast-iron skillet, handy for sautéing and oven-baked vegetables.
I miss my outdoor gas grille where I braise fish and chicken.
I miss the birds who chirp each morning and the crows that alight on our roof on their way to the Columbia River.
I miss having coffee with my chums.
I miss bicycling: we left our bikes at home because our house sits high on a steep hill.
But that steep hill also means I get to see deer every morning while I walk through a cedar wood with neatly forged pathways.
And we get to meet new friends when we try coffee and pastry at local cafes.
We greet new critters mid-morning: Steller jays and woodpeckers, and sweet little finch-like foul that hide in our neighbors’ trees and flutter when we walk by.
We walk past homes with campers, and I take a photo of one that looks like it is rooted to the ground.
My husband swears that the Canadian crows speak a different dialect than the ones back home.
Makes sense to me.
20 October 2019
Photo by the author