Sometimes people asked me if I miss it.
My home country. The Netherlands.
I always have to think about that.
The longer I live here, the less I do, I think.
In the beginning I was absolutely missing certain foods and stores. Smoked sausage here doesn’t even compare to Unox rookworst and if you grow up with different chocolate sprinkles on your bread, it’s hard to get used to the breakfast cereal to satisfy your sweet tooth. And although the selection in your massive stores is tremendous, sometimes I truly missed the little scale clothing stores where I exactly knew what my size was and where to look for what.
But that changed. I am happy with my Greek yogurt with wild Maine blueberries for breakfast and although I enjoy an occasionally slice of bread with ‘hagelslag’ when Dutch visitors bring the good stuff, I am less and less missing the food. (except for the Indonesian food: Oh, how I miss the flavors and smells of nasi goreng, babi pangang and so much more. Part of this is probably due to the fact that I live in a ‘white potato bubble’, there isn’t much of a good ethnic food variety around here.)
And now, while in the midst of my fourteenth Maine winter, I think I don’t really miss much.
However, every early spring (or midwinter, depending where you live), I see pictures of blooming flowers or hear my family talk about the abundance of little birds chirping and singing, while the blue skies with famous Dutch white cauliflower clouds bring spring fever to my Dutch friends and family.
And green grass! Green grass! In February!!
My Maine mind isn’t even set on spring just yet. I am in the midst of winter, filling buckets with water for an impending snowstorm. I am happy if I can go outside leaving my jacket unzipped and soaking up the rays of sun, reflecting of the white snow around me.
When I don’t see those pictures, or put them in the same category as my friends’ vacation pictures from say, Aruba or Florida, I don’t miss it at all. My ‘inner pioneer woman’ instinct goes about her day, preparing dinner early, in case the power goes out, planning my work-outs around the days that I don’t have to snow shovel. I enjoy the midwinter sunshine and the days that slowly but surely give us daylight till 5 pm, or on a particularly bright day even till 5:15.
Cold becomes more and more a subjective term: if 32 degrees felt cold in October, it feels mild in February.
Pictures of blooming crocuses, snowdrops and people in jackets sitting outside on the terraces near the cafes in the Netherlands are just that: pictures.
Things change when I see grass. Green grass. The song becomes so evident in my head and my heartstrings get pulled whenever my eyes observe the green. The grass here is hidden under dirty snow and I know, that come spring, it will be covered in mud. For a bit we will see green grass, before our ruthless summer will make it all brown and yellow. Not much moisture in the granite! And although beautiful, in the fall the grass will be covered with a mosaic of red, yellow, orange and brown leaves.