It seems that no matter how hard I try, no matter how my previous forty years of not knowing anything about green growing things presses on me, I can’t help but learn the names of trees and flowers here in England. One of my favorite newly-named-to-me growing things is the monkey puzzle tree.
Araucaria araucana, there it is. I love to greet these tall evergreens whenever we see them in a garden — it’s like saying hi to a new friend you never expected to meet and are always glad to see. Hi, monkey puzzle!
It’s no secret that I have found transitioning to our life in the UK very difficult. I’ve felt like I’ve had all the upside and downside of bipolar disorder, without the medication or therapy. The enduring not-homeness of this country will always be with me. I’m still fighting the weather, no one understands my accent, and why the hell can’t anyone drive omfg, and yet … the list of things I love and have brought in to my heart about England are growing.
Scones, clotted cream, a decent cup of tea. Adventure playgrounds around each corner. Walking everywhere. Incredibly supportive marshals at races and strangers cheering me on at the gym. Ale. Pies. Puddings. Sunday Roast. Charity shops. A culture of volunteerism like I’ve never seen. Everyone going for lunch by 12:15. National Trust, English Heritage. Green grass all winter. Bits of history not only vibrant under every surface, but still living in day to day life. A pace of life just a few notches slower than in the U.S. Health care as a human right. The hilarity of enjoying a warm fire all year round.
Each small thing I am coming to love about England is a small reminder that this can be home, too. Even though, right in this moment, all I want to do is jump in the car and drive to the Eastern Shore, walk barefoot in my bathingsuit on the boardwalk eating fries, get a sunburn in the warm ocean, eat boardwalk pizza and stay up late to watch the sun set over the waves … I know a proper brew and the promise of more roses in my garden will make this home enough for me to make it though another day.