( As cheesy titles go, this one takes the biscuit. )
Peonies are one of my favourite flowers. Sadly it is too hot here for them and our garden is too small but I love them none the less. Perhaps their peripatetic tendencies mirror my own, my roots are stretched and have often been popped in a wheelbarrow, ship, removal van, plane, train or bus and birled around a fair bit. ( to birl is a Scottish verb for either spinning someone or something around , think of a Scottish reel , or taking them or it for a spin usually in some type of wheeled vehicle). As to whether I flower more often, well that is probably for friends and family to answer!
Peonies sprung to mind when I was chatting to an old school friend , via facebook, who has lived in Holland for many years. We were talking about roots and becoming local in a new home, whether a few miles or another country away. This wise lady commented that to move abroad probably means never being local again, at home or abroad and that by choosing to be one of the millions of Scots abroad we can have the best of both worlds providing we don’t expect to be instantly accepted in either. In our new homes we can make friends and neighbours by joining clubs, working, volunteering, learning their language and being open to finding out about the culture of our new abode. While visiting family in the old country, we can relax a little but never deride theirs or imply that our new life is better only that it is different and exciting. We peonies are unusual sorts and many good people are more than happy to stay close the their place of original planting. This doesn’t make them any the less beautiful. It doesn’t make their roots any weaker but for that matter, I don’t think it has made my roots any less strong either. My roots may be stretched but they go down deep!
When you move to a new country or even a new town, you can’t help wonder about the alternative, staying put , being part of the community you grew up in or chose to settle in as an adult. I have moved around a lot almost in complete contrast to my lovely, late Dad. He was uprooted by WW2 and as an evacuee from the east end of London found himself and his big sister, on a farm in Devon having to look after the geese! Not easy for a city boy! His Mum, a widow , moved to Scotland with the company she worked for as they had begun to make munitions and were looking for somewhere to manufacture away from the Blitz. They chose Clydebank! Which was then blitzed and again moved , this time to the country side and a little town called Menstrie, nestled under the Ochil Hills. My Grandma sent for her children when she realised how safe this beautiful part of Scotland was. My Dad and his sister arrived in Scotland in the early 1940s, not sure exactly when, and although they travelled a lot for holidays and business, neither of them ever left the area again! I think their early experience as evacuees probably contributed to this.
Alternatively, my beautiful Mum , while well travelled, lived and died no further than four miles from her birth place, she was born in a one bedroom flat ,home for her folks and two siblings, in the centre of Stirling ,yet I know for a fact that she would have loved to have been popped in that wheelbarrow and tried out some new beds to grow in. One of our favourite family quotes from Mum was while on holiday in Germany and visiting Cologne. The famous cathedral is very close to the railway station and as my Dad loved trains, we all trooped in to the station to have a look. Double decker trains were arriving and leaving for destinations all over Germany and Europe. ” Doesn’t it just make you feel like going somewhere?” asked Mum in all seriousness , she looked very surprised as we all began to fall about laughing. Possibly my itchy feet were inherited from Mum!
With every move, I have asked myself the question, will I and should I actively make an effort to become part of the community and with every move I have. In doing this I have made so many wonderful friends who have remained friends even after I move on again!
Just a couple of months before we moved to Spain in 2017, I bumped in to an old friend from High School. We had been living just a few miles from each other for years, but work and family meant that time had come between us. It was so lovely catching up over a few glasses of wine, and I started to feel quite guilty that after reconnecting, I was going to put over a thousand miles between us ! Margaret, if you are reading this, once your busy year is over and enjoyed and I am back in Scotland, we will meet up again. I promise! Thank you to all my family and friends who not only stay in touch but have supported Walt and I on our crazy adventures. I will make that effort where ever I am to be part of the community,but Cathleen, I agree with you that I will never be local simply a friendly, ex pat! My roots are all of you friends and family, my beautiful country of birth and here in our Spanish home.