Wordsworkinc's Weblog

Life, love and language

Canadian Skies

I still remember clearly the first time I ever looked at the sky in Canada.  It was sixteen years ago that I flew into Vancouver that night.  Born and bred in South Africa, this was my first venture into the northern hemisphere and I stepped off the plane, jet-lagged after 2 days of international travel, and walked out of the airport into a bitterly cold, strange, white world.

I drove with my daughter and her husband through Vancouver to catch the last ferry across to the Island where they were living.  After landing in Victoria we continued our journey through the dark to the little village of Shawnigan Lake.  With the voluble excitement of our reunion over for the moment, I leant back in my seat and gazed out of the window at the sky.

Of all the new sights and experiences it was the sight of that alien sky which suddenly made me realize just how far I was from home.  I’m no expert on astrology and could probably not name more than 3 or 4 of the constellations that grace our southern skies, but their absence made such an unexpected impact on me that even now, after 13 years of visiting and 3 years of living in Canada, that first impression of a foreign sky still remains with me.

December 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Two Years and Counting

The 14th January marked the end of our second year in Canada.  Time for some introspection as I look back at the 24 months which have flown past.

Moving countries was easier for us than for many who have taken the same route.  First of all, because we visited extensively, usually for 6 months at a time, between 2003 when we first applied for permanent residence and December 2008 when our application was finally accepted; and, secondly, because, by then, both of our daughters and our two grandsons were living in Calgary.

The only part of South Africa that I can truly say I have missed is the people, friends and family, whom I have had to leave behind.  But visits from a good friend in 2009 and both my sisters in 2010 helped to lessen any feeling of loss, and, of course, Facebook, Skype and emails keep everyone connected these days.   It also helps that I will be going back to visit this year and plan to do so every two years if possible, so the ties may be stretched but certainly haven’t been cut!

Meeting new people, making new friends, and getting involved in the different activities Canada has to offer has also helped.  Richard has re-written his Ham Radio exam and regularly meets with other radio aficionados.  I have found hiking companions who have become valued friends and joined a book and a writing club.  And, after a few fairly disastrous attempts at skiing, I have made snow shoeing my winter sport of choice.

I have grown to love Calgary and the surrounding countryside.  I love the prairies, where the grass and canola fields stretch endlessly under an ever changing sky. I love the mountains with their tree-clad sides and craggy, snow-covered summits.  I love the many parks, such as Nose Hill, Bowness, and Fish Creek which bring the wild countryside into the city. And I love the rivers and creeks which flow in and around Calgary.

The wild life might not be as varied as that of Africa but it is ever-present.  Moose, coyote, foxes and even bears have wandered in close proximity to our home and mule deer sleep in our yard in winter and dig through the snow to find the grass which sustains them.

Many of our visits were in winter so the snowy landscape was not unfamiliar to us.  Driving to work and back in the dark, however, when the snowplows’ valiant efforts have not been enough to clear the roads and black ice is an ever present threat, can, at best, be described as interesting, at worst, as a white-knuckled, clenched-teeth roller coaster ride.  For all that, I haven’t yet lost my delight at waking up to a snow covered landscape and still marvel at the sparkling crystals which sometimes dance in the air turning our garden into a fairyland.

But, strangely enough, it is sport which made me realize just how much I identify with my new country.  During the Winter Olympics in Vancouver I sat glued to the screen as Canada and America battled it out for the gold in ice hockey and celebrated with the same feeling of euphoria that I experienced when the Springboks triumphed over the Ozzies at rugby.  Similarly I mourned with the rest of the country when Russia overran our team in the Junior Championships during the third period.

Cale has now lived in Canada longer than he lived in South Africa and it won’t be too long before Asher can say the same.   Both of our grandsons speak with a Canadian accent and their memories of their home land have, I think, faded a little, as they haven’t been back in the 5 years they’ve lived here.  Richard and I will always have our South African accents and we lived too long in our motherland to ever be anything but African-Canadians.  Still we look forward to being able to apply for citizenship of this great country in another year and, more and more, Calgary is truly becoming our home.

January 16, 2011 Posted by | Living in Canada | , | Leave a comment

Starting work

After 11 months of freelancing, I have decided to join the working force again.  So two days ago I braved the dark and the cold and the slippery roads and headed off to work.  And, believe it or not, it was … nice.  I no longer feel as if I am a visitor here, on an extended holiday.  I fit, I belong, and like everyone else, I look forward to the weekends again!   And, for the first time in Canada Richard and I each have our OWN vehicles and our OWN cell phones.  We are part of the greater Canadian society, and it’s good to be here.

December 19, 2009 Posted by | Relocating | , | Leave a comment

Relocated

Here we are, nine months down the road, long enough to have produced another human being, and I’m back at my blog once more, perhaps more consistently this time around?  In this time we have passed our driving tests, arranged our SIM numbers, signed up for Alberta Health Care and, quite unexpectedly, received Blue Cross cards as well.  Although we had spent 6 months at a time in Calgary during the wait for Permanent Residence, this is the first fall we have been here, our first Thanksgiving, and, coming up, our first Halloween. Despite this, I have easily and almost imperceptibly taken on the mantle of Canadian and feel perfectly at home in this beautiful country.  Right now the 10 cm of snow we had last week has all but vanished and a gentle rain is falling.  The trees, perhaps taken by surprise by the early snowfall have yet to drop their leaves in our yard and I wait patiently for them to give up their load so that I can use the leaves to protect my garden during the cold winter months.

October 19, 2009 Posted by | Relocating | | Leave a comment

Relocating

Who would have thought, ten years ago, that we would be starting a new life in a new country at an age when most people are preparing for a quiet and comfortable retirement.  From South Africa’s heat to Canada’s sometimes unbelievable cold, from sandy beaches to snow covered slopes. As I write this the wind is stirring up the snow outside my window and it looks as if some giant hand is scattering glitter from the sky. Beautiful!

One of the results of this hoped for yet unexpected move is that Spanish is now taking a back seat while my very shaky French has been brought, once more, out of the closet.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Relocating, Travels | | Leave a comment