When we moved to Australia in 1995, ‘we’ were me, the Nearly Perfect Husband, First Born Mac (then 2 1/2) and Number One Son Sam (having just turned 1).
Self-Proclaimed Perfect Boy Gabe was then a glimmer in the eyes of a God with an advanced sense of humor, satire, and sadism.
The whole concept – from a lunchtime offer of a position in Australia, to me calling JoHn with the news, to us declining the offer for the following reasons: 1. Just bought first house and moved in, 2. Just moved into said house with JoHn’s parents, 3. We were a two income family and JoHn needed to work too, 4. We had kids and what a pain to move to Australia, right?
And then every single reason not to do it went ‘poof’.
So three weeks after it was first mentioned, we were running through LAX, JoHn hauling a sleeping Sam in his car seat, toward the departure gate that would result in Dingles Down Under.
In trying to plan a two-year absence from one’s home and country, in less time than it takes to conceive and plan for a two week vacation, I can tell you that you will, in fact, forget to do a few things.
Like, oh I dunno…
Forget to research exactly how many of the world’s most poisonous creatures exist within the borders of Australia.
Which is an island.
Far away from, like, everything.
The answer uncovered in that research, when you eventually get to it, is a lot.
But I calmed myself by assuring me that these creatures weren’t anywhere near the city – or my cherubs – because they were probably in the outback.
Then my Australian co-workers would come in on a Monday mentioning stuff, casually, like the fact that a Brown Snake (as in ‘Eastern Brown Snake’, one of the most deadly snakes in the world) had been down by the river and slithered across a few lounge chair legs before ‘heading into the bush’.
Or that someone’s sister had fished a Sydney Funnel Web spider out of her pool filter the weekend before and “…did you know they can jump?”
And here I was with my little cherubs at home, surrounded by poisonous death.
And finally I was all gobsmacked and asked how on earth they were so casual about all these deadly creatures, all around, all the time.
“How can you live with this? Aren’t you always scared?!”
My new mates were confused.
They began explaining by exclaiming things like, “Well you have wolves!”
“And bears and mountain lions!”
“And huge killer snowstorms, and tornadoes!”
And I was all, “Ya, but those aren’t, like, lurking in your back yard!”
And someone said, “Uh, yes. They are, Lee.”
But it sounded like, “Uh, yes. They ah, Lay-ee.”
And I thought, they’re right. They are lurking in some people’s back yards. Or at least they show up there once in a while. And sometimes they are deadly, or they hurt people.
And then I thought, duh.
It’s all what we’re used to.
And it’s all relative.
It’s always scarier when you don’t know what you’re dealing with, or how to deal with it.
It’s the unknown.
So when I walked to my side door today….
And opened it to see this…
And this, which is – yes – a wall of snow beyond the threshold.
Closer view of wall:
And we shoveled our way through it and saw this:
As the snow approached, and the weather folks got crazy in their warnings and forecasts, did we panic?
Are we panicked?
Sure, if we had a medical emergency, or a place we just had to be, we might not have been able to see the beauty in nature that we spied when we woke up this morning.
But, for those who don’t experience it often or ever, I’ll try to describe it, the way I see it.
Once you have all the wood you need inside, and food in the cupboards…
Once you have made the soups you can warm easily in the fireplace if you lose power…
Once you know you will be okay if you can’t get out of the driveway for a while…
You settle in.
When the first flakes start to fall, you smile.
They fall so slowly, and there is so little, sometimes you have to look close to make sure it’s really snowing.
As the storm picks up, the grass disappears.
And eventually the bushes do too.
And then the fences.
And when you open your door, it is absolutely silent, but for the wind and a soft pitter pat of newly fallen snow as it lands on the rest.
if you’re lucky, and live near the woods, in the morning when it slows down, you might hear a series of small ‘poofs’.
Landing without any dignity, after nesting in trees during the storm.
Clean up can be hard work.
Shoveling, snow blowing, plowing.
Dogs help to make it fun.
What seems like a catastrophe from afar, is an amazing thing from right here.
I don’t know if anyone ever says that about a creepy, poisonous spider, snake, or cone snail.
Maybe they do.
But, if you don’t mind, I’ll take the snow.
Thanks for readin’.
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