Autumn Meets Winter

My last post was pretty negative about the whole situation with the snowstorm, since the blackout was definitely not very fun. But having a snowstorm in the middle of autumn also provided some beautiful and astonishing scenery. It was very unexpected to see flashes of gold, red, yellow and orange peeking out through the white carpet that covered every branch, leaf and patch of grass. Obviously I couldn’t help but take lots of pictures, so I figured I’d share some of them with you, to share the good side of the snowstorm too.

Hope you enjoy and please feel free to comment or share any of your pictures.

The pumpkins were confused...
I loved seeing the flash of orange under all that snow!
The snow was definitely piling on at this point...but the branches hadn't started breaking - yet.
Still before disaster struck - branches were still up, power was still on. Although I had to admit, whether with or without power, the sight was beautiful.
The colors were even more stunning the next day - most of the snow had melted off the trees, but just enough was left to make such a beautiful contrast between autumn and winter. And that gorgeous blue sky was the perfect backdrop.
The fiery colored leaves on the white, crisp snow was definitely one of my favorite sights. It was such an odd and unexpected mix, but truly lovely.
Couldn't help taking a close-up! Really, really loved those gorgeous autumn leaves on the fresh snow. The storm caused a lot of damage, and the blackout was pretty awful, but it also made some beautiful and rare scenery that we were lucky to see.

Pine Needle Crowns and Piles of Leaves

Moving back to the States after last living here as a kid (I left when I was 8 years old) has been an interesting and enlightening experience. I’ve been back here since then, but only to visit, and trust me when I say that visiting has NOTHING to do with actually living somewhere. In some ways I feel like my life as a TCK has been one big anthropological expedition. Hm, come to think of it, I’m sure that TCKs would make great anthropologists, but maybe I’ll cover that some other time. Being back in the U.S. as an adult has opened my eyes in a lot of ways, and has obviously led me to make a lot of comparisons with other countries I’ve lived in, especially France, as it’s the only other country I lived in as an adult. Some of those comparisons are positive and others, not so much. But moving back here has also conjured up a lot of childhood memories from when we lived in the States.

When we lived in Wisconsin as little girls, fall meant piles of leaves all over the yard. Those leaves meant a lot of hard work for dad, and a lot of fun games for me and my sister! He would rake up the leaves all over the yard and make different piles to make them easier to pick up. But before they could be picked up, we loved to let ourselves fall into the piles and just watch the leaves fly up around us. To be fair, I believe we did help him put the leaves in the bags later (I hope!), but until they went in those bags, they were a joy to play in! Another favorite of ours with the autumn leaves was to look for the most beautifully colored leaves lying on the ground. We would scour the back and the front yard, looking for the reddest or most golden leaves. And every once in a while we would fall upon a real treasure: a transparent leaf. I remember we loved those, they were something special and rare. Those leaves were the ones we would press in books to dry them so we could admire their beauty whenever we wanted.

We were lucky to have a big yard, with lots of space to run around with our dog, and a swing-set to play on endlessly, but one of our favorite places in the yard was our hidden pine tree ‘cove’. To get into our secret lair, we had to crawl or crouch under some of the low-hanging branches, but once inside we were surrounded by 2 very large and beautiful pine trees. We would sit on the carpet of dried, golden pine needles and make all sorts of stories in our heads (and out loud!). While we were sitting there, lost in our own little world, we would make crowns and even bracelets out of the fresh green pine needles. It was delicate work and a talent acquired with practice, but we were diligent crafts-girls. Those crowns would adorn our heads, and those of our parents. Our lovely and patient dog might have had one too, if we could get him to sit still long enough. He was a patient and kind dog, but not stupid enough to let us put one of those on his head! How we loved those pine trees, complices to our princess-like fantasies, secret-keepers to our hidden world.

Now in Connecticut, there are a lot of those same pine trees around as well as those glorious autumn leaves, and oh, the memories they bring back to me. The smell, the sight, those golden pine needles carpeting the floor, those beautiful pine trees, green even in the weary whiteness of winter. And those autumn trees, glowing brighter every day, slowly covering the ground in stunning shades of red, gold, orange and yellow. How I long to be a little girl again sometimes, if only for a little while. To throw myself in those colorful piles of leaves, to crouch once more under the low-lying branches of our pine trees and to make pine needle crowns while imagining stories of princesses, evil wizards and knights in shining armor.

Third culture kid, relishing the ‘kid’ part, signing off.

Welcome Back Autumn

Out with the new, in with the old,

Flickering flames of red, yellow and gold.

Clear, crisp air and dazzling blue sky,

Hear the wind through the trees sigh.

Squirrels and chipmunks scurrying around,

Picking up chestnuts fallen to the ground.

Although it is yet but a pale blush,

Soon it will spread with a rush,

Bringing with it warm flames of red, yellow and gold,

As we do out with the new, and usher in the old.

As much as beautiful spring allows things to grow,

I welcome you back autumn, for I have missed you so.

Seasons of Change

Last year I got to see my very first New England fall. It was even more spectacular than I had imagined. I have never seen such an array of yellows, oranges, reds and golds; it was as if the trees were bursting into fire. When I was moving around, for a long time I didn’t have a “real” fall, as the climates I was living in didn’t always have 4 defined seasons. Then we moved to France, and I could finally enjoy all 4 seasons again, as I can here in Connecticut too. I love every season; each one is beautiful and fantastic in its own unique way. But I had never yet experienced an autumn quite like the one I got to see here. I’m looking forward to seeing the trees change color soon; I don’t think I could ever tire of nature’s beautiful art.

Nevertheless, as much as I love the fall, I don’t necessarily love everything here, just as I didn’t love absolutely everything in every other place I’ve lived in. But the fundamental thing I’ve learned is how important it is to focus on all the good things and truly take advantage of enjoying them. As TCKs, I think we have a more acute awareness than others that no single place is entirely perfect or entirely awful. While it’s important to be conscious of the more negative issues, it’s crucial to focus mainly on the positive and to make the most of those. We could live somewhere for 1 year, 5 years, 10 years; it doesn’t matter how long you live somewhere as long as you truly cherish that experience and take everything you can out of it. There will always be drawbacks and complications in every place, but there will also be magnificent opportunities, beautiful places, fascinating people who make your time there worthwhile.

It’s often easier in hindsight to see the things we missed out on and possibly regret that later; try to see the good in the present and you won’t have regrets. Well, maybe you’ll regret not having more time there! It may sound cliched, but the only way to really make the most out of any situation, any location, is to seize every opportunity it gives you, no matter how big or small. The humid, tropical climate of the Philippines was not a particular favorite of mine, but the vivid colors of the exotic flowers all over the garden will always stay with me. As will the taste of the juiciest, most delicious mangoes I’ve ever eaten in my life! Those may seem like minor details, and insignificant in the big picture, but I tend to think it’s the small things that really matter. We should never overlook the power of the smaller details in life; they’re the ones that complete the big picture.

Every place, like every season, has something to love, something to look forward to, something to enjoy, no matter how big or how small. Those are the things we have to hold on to when the going gets tough. Being a TCK isn’t always easy; changes are imminent, they’re just part of our lives. It’s how you deal with those changes that make all the difference. You can think that the trees will no longer be green, that the days will get shorter and the temperature colder; or you can think that the trees will paint the skyline with flames, that you’ll have more time to look at the starry night sky and that you can snuggle under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate.

Life is only what you make of it, whether you’re a TCK or not. Enjoy every moment, and cherish all the beauty there is in this world. We’re lucky that we get to see so much of it. Don’t waste your time thinking of what isn’t there, or what could have been or where else you could be. Learn to appreciate what each place can offer; it will make your journey an exciting and fulfilling adventure.