Of Groundhogs and Homesickness

Of Groundhogs and Homesickness

Groundhog Day has me feeling homesick.

On the surface it makes no sense. I’m going to have to delve deeper.

I didn’t live near Wiarton Willy when Ontario was home. I didn’t have a Groundhog Day party every year. I didn’t believe in a rodent’s ability to predict the weather…accurately, anyway.

All day I’ve been feeling heartache and I want to chalk it up to internal chemistry or lack of vitamin D or the need for rest and relaxation. But that wouldn’t be fair to my chemistry or the sunshine we’ve had for 3 days or my husband, who recently took me on vacation to Malaysia.

So I decided to write and see what flowed from my mind through my fingertips.

I intended my next blog entry to be Malaysia based, or Part 4 in my Spider Series. But as in most things in life, unexpected events dictate the direction of our plans.

Groundhog Day is silly. The movie is fantastic and I can quote it extensively, but there is no deep meaning for me in February 2nd.

But I could count on it. Every year every news outlet in Ontario would comment on the shadow or no-shadow seeing groundhog. At work everyone would talk about the 6 more weeks of an already dreary winter or the imminence of spring. I would draw a stickman on the calendar with an umbrella over a groundhog emerging from a hole in the earth. It was nothing but it was something.

So the groundhog got me thinking about winter and the first one I spent out here on the West coast: a warm winter of rain and grey and low clouds and moss. How refreshing it was when I compared it to the frozen 6 months in Southwestern Ontario. The marvel upon discovering I could keep potted roses outside all year and they would bloom in February! A welcome change.

Then this winter happened, after a summer that had been tepid at best. This winter with its snow and ice and accumulation and lack of salt and ploughs and everyone talking excitedly about the conditions I had left behind in Ontario. And my roses dead in their tubs.

And not even any Groundhog Day news to brighten up the prospect of spring.

Suddenly everything was unfamiliar again. Unfamiliar like the first few months after moving. Unfamiliar in that the first winter I experienced out here is not a guarantee for mild winters to come. Maybe I had just traded everything I knew out East for the same here, except less.

Suddenly I wanted to be around the corner from my favourite uncle so I could stop there for a dram of whiskey or a story. I wanted to be near the hiking trails I had always known and could reach without having to drive there. I wanted the familiarity of the stores at which I had always shopped and the weekend getaway destinations where I knew where to find the best cup of coffee or hunk of pie. I wanted my siblings near me and my nieces and nephews and Mom and Dad. Grandma should be in the apartment she was always in for as long as I can remember, with the landscaping outside unchanged: white stones to look like a riverbed that isn’t really there. Instead, she is in a nursing home I’ve never seen and Mom and Dad have sold their house and my nieces and nephews are not where they always were when I would sit outside their bedroom doors, back against the doorframe, reading softly in the night.

The houses are occupied by strangers and my siblings live in homes I’ve never seen.

It’s funny how I moved away and everyone else I knew moved on. We scattered and carved out places for ourselves in other neighbourhoods and kept in touch via social media which is less social than it is media.

In my carved niche I have friends and acquaintances and neighbours and their pets. I’m beginning to understand the ebb and flow of the social gatherings here and I peek my head out of my introversion to take part in larger parties, although I’m used to the more intimate dinner parties of smaller towns in colder winters. I’m trying my absolute best to understand and be understood and be part of a community that is culturally different in its naïveté of all things East.

Including the Groundhog.

So I guess it makes sense when I distill it. I came West with an expectation of milder weather and excitement in meeting new people. A winter like Ontario has reminded me of Ontario and the people I knew when I knew them best.

And I miss them.

I sincerely hope for an early spring.

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