This is a guest post from Suzannah Freeman at Write It Sideways. If you like to write and you want some great advice, Suzannah is one of the best out there. She probably had no idea how often I read her blog until I typed these words. Enjoy!
by Suzannah Windsor Freeman
I read and learned and fretted more about Canada after I left than I ever did while I was home. ~Will Ferguson
Three years ago, my family and I moved from the shores of Lake Superior in northern Ontario, to South Australia.
It was a difficult decision, but one we felt was ultimately for the best.
Recently, someone asked me if I was starting to think of Australia as my home. I knew the right answer was supposed to be yes, but I couldn’t answer in the affirmative.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Australia. I love beaches and sunshine and emus and dolphins. I love that I don’t spend half an hour getting dressed to go outside for 10 minutes. And while I don’t love Vegemite, I have a healthy respect for its cultural significance.
However, after considerable time away from Canada, I now realize there are things about my home I couldn’t truly appreciate until they were gone.
They say the grass is always greener on the other side (which isn’t difficult–Australia is in the middle of a drought). Here are some of the things I’m beginning to miss about my home:
Snow, Ice, Cold
I know, some Canadians love snow, but I was never one of them.
When I was a kid, my school sat on top of a hill that became a veritable mountain of ice during winter.
I remember my classmates forming a human chain to drag each another up the hill toward the entrance. Sometimes, you’d nearly make it to the top and reach out toward those waiting hands, only to fall on your face and slide to the bottom once more.
Running-starts were encouraged, but often backfired.
I don’t miss the snow most days, but there are a few instances in which it could come in handy. Like the other day when it was 40 degrees Celsius and there was a raging bushfire on the edge of town.
If only we could have had one of those nice sub-zero, white-out moments at the crucial time.
Take that, bushfire!
I grew up in a house where the temperature was constant and my living room felt like a warm spring day, even in the middle of a snowstorm.
Funny enough, when I moved to South Australia, I had no idea how chilly it can get in winter. The houses here are built to keep heat out, not in, so central heating and double-glazed windows are uncommon.
It’s very strange to wake up in the middle of the night freezing your butt off, wondering why you decided to move to Australia in the first place.
French Directions on my Food
Most of you will know that Canada is officially bilingual.
Despite several years of compulsory school lessons, I don’t speak French (other than a few bonjours and chapeaus and ooo-la-las). Still, I kind of miss not having French labels and directions on all my food.
It’s one of those things you don’t even notice until it isn’t there anymore. I grew up seeing French on the back of everything, so there’s always some part of me that instinctively turns an Australian soup can expecting to see Mode d’emploi. I’m always disappointed.
I miss challenging myself to interpret the French side of the cereal box whilst I enjoy my breakfast.
Is that wrong?
Australians don’t beat around the bush; they say what they mean.
Canadians use the washroom. Aussies go to the toilet.
I remember in kindergarten when toilet was a dirty word. Having to say toilet in front of one’s peers was a fate worse than death. Consequently, I refrain from using the word whenever humanly possible.
Also, Australians refer to both the room and fixture as the toilet.
“Hey, where’d you put my book?”
“In the toilet, Mate.”
See what I mean? Totally wrong.
Finns and their Saunas
My hometown is almost entirely populated by Finnish people. Apparently, they think northern Ontario is very similar to Finland. It’s cold, it’s boreal, and they love it.
I’m not Finnish, but I do love sweating-it-out in a sauna, then jumping in the frigid lake.
I also miss meeting people named Jussi and Markku and Tuija and Heikki, which are all perfectly common names where I come from.
Most of all, I miss old Finnish ladies who make cabbage rolls and sell them at church bazaars.
In fact, I don’t remember the last time I encountered a good bazaar in Australia.
Completely Irresponsible Water Use
When you grow up near a lake like Superior, you never need to worry about water.
Australia, though surrounded by water on all sides, is the driest continent in the world. It actually feels cruel to stand on the parched ground, gazing at all that beautiful foamy sea, and know you can’t drink it.
We Canadians should definitely do more to conserve the water we’re so blessed to have, but I do miss being able to run through a sprinkler on a summer’s day, or rinse my car with a hose, or have a hot bath.
There’s no place like home
While I’m not in any hurry to race back to the great white north permanently, I do love when something reminds me of my home, and all the reasons I think its great.
O Canada. Maples, moose and mountains. The rich scent of poutine wafting from the kitchen. Anne of Green Gables. The fur trade. Newfies. Tundra. Heck, I’d even go as far as to say Celine Dion (but only when I’m feeling really sentimental).
Sometimes you have to let go of things before you can truly appreciate them.
Where’s home to you? Is the grass really greener on the other side?
What are you taking for granted today?
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