This is the first page of our Migration Book. We wrote it together to keep track of our feelings and dreams about our adventure moving to Vancouver. On one page it says… “I’m going to have a GARDEN again!!” Nearly 20 years of moving every 2 years has meant that countless times I have cut beds, made compost, dug in fertilizer, planted out and moved just as the soil gets good and the vegetables ripen. I was really looking forward to getting a place with enough garden to make something special, and having enough time to do it.
Of course, our dream house is blessed with an aspen tree on one side, nearly 80 feet tall with roots that run through the lawn, surfacing every few feet like cresting dolphins. So, raised beds it is, then. My sister explained that, although we are on a similar latitude and the climate feels the same, one can’t just plant the same varieties as in England. She bought me a book, Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades by Steve Solomon, which I read.
What it doesn’t tell you, but your neighbours will, is that everything is so bloomin’ late. We’ve had a rotten couple of years, but even so, my innate English gardening sense goes off in March – “Brrrrring! Spring Is Here! Lambs are born! Daffodils are out! Plant something!” I just can’t help myself – I gather the seed packets, and start preparing the soil. Then I wait for soil to warm up. Maybe Easter….. or late April….. I can wait until May…. Mothers Day, 13th May, still too cold….. my brother in law doesn’t plant out until late May, I can wait….. Where the F*!@ did June come from? And why is it still cold?
Spider babies on jasmine
Do Not Eat The Elephants
Have I mentioned that I must do a piece about Vancouver parenting? I really will get round to it one day, because I love what we have learned from our Canadian neighbours and friends. For now, I’ll leave you hanging and tell you about a conversation I had last night with my middle muppet (or child, as she likes to be called).
This is the one who suffers from anxiety. She has become so distressed about homework that she adopts tactics like not bringing the books home (if the books aren’t here, homework does not exist). Or not writing the homework in her planner (if it’s not in the planner it does not exist). If we and her teacher gang up and check the planner and the contents of her bag before she leaves school she will hide under the table (if she can’t see the books, the homework does not exist – are you spotting the trend here?) She has also tried the Hiding Under The Table trick at school, much to the distress of her teacher who thought she had run away.
So last night she cannot sleep because of the anxiety of homework and she and I had a chat about tackling your worries one at a time. We discussed how she needs to take each piece of homework and assign a time to do it, so that she is not overwhelmed by all the task at once. “You must learn to eat the elephant one bite at a time” I said. “I don’t want to eat an elephant – that would be yucky.” “How about a chocolate elephant?” “Then I would be sick.” The A-Ha moment! “That’s the whole point. If you ate your elephant one bite per day, you would not be sick.” I am satisfied I have made my point and saved myself years of paying for therapy, until a small voice from the other bed says “It might be a life sized chocolate elephant filled with caramel and I would take a bite and all the caramel would come out and dribble down my throat, and I would take another bite and there would be more caramel….” Ok, I’ve saved one from anxiety issues and introduced another to eating disorders. Who ever said parents can’t win?
So, let’s start with the Big Question everyone asks – “Why Canada?” Before we left England, I usually replied “We are not emigrating to Canada; 99% of Canada is completely uninhabitable. We are emigrating to Vancouver because it scored highly in the Best Places in the World To Live survey (Mercer), we want an adventure, England is going to the dogs, we want to see whales, climb mountains in summer and ski down them in the winter – so many reasons”.
We arrived on a freezing March evening and staggered from our downtown hotel apartment on our first morning into the coldest wind we had ever felt. We walked to the end of the street, looked north across Lost Lagoon to the snow covered mountains and breathed in the freshest, cleanest air we had ever tasted. From that moment on, whenever anyone asked “Why Canada?” we simply replied “Have you SEEN it? Where else would we want to be?” We are well and truly in love with our new home.
We were right about some things, and utterly wrong about others. We have been surprised at how quickly we have got used to some of the differences, and how slowly the kids are picking up Canadian accents. Over the pages of this website, we aim to give you some ideas, steer you to useful resources and answer some of your questions. Mostly, if you are set on this crazy course called emigration, we aim to give you hope that you can achieve it!