So, how are living in small town, Saskatchewan and small city, Germany similar? Surprisingly, in more ways than you might think.
Yesterday evening, as great guy was getting ready for a ‘business’ meeting in our little stellwerk (finally learned the English translation…signal tower!) I decided to make myself scarce. Our home is not too small for us, but it’s all open, with each room on a different floor, separated by open stairs. This is a hazard for small children, older folks and…noisy people. There isn’t much opportunity to not disturb, so I headed out into the freezing cold (-3 brrrr) and walked over the bridge into ‘downtown’ to give the men some alone space.
I had made myself comfortable in the back of a cozy café, after ordering a nussecke (nutcorner – does not translate well) and green tea, when three minutes later I heard, “can I join you?” (in German, of course, otherwise I really would’ve been knocked off my rocker!). It was the husband of one of the mädels (the group of girls I meet with regularly). Great guy and I had just been at their flat for a wonderful dinner two weeks ago. Now, he was in the café, after just finishing work and starting his holidays, waiting for his wife to join him so that they can kick-off their ski trip with a pre-ski cake and coffee. So sweet.
An hour later, after a lovely time with these two warm, fun people, I headed out to do some shopping (German: to bummel). Seriously, not five minutes later, I ran into our smart, very-short, long-time friend of great-guy’s, bienchen. I tutor her whip-quick, slightly arrogant, but sweet-as-heck, sons in English. The older one, at only 14 actually challenged me on some English, saying he didn’t think I was right. I was impressed and annoyed at the time, but it sure makes me laugh thinking about it now. She has her hands full with those two and handles parenting elegantly, in my opinion. Bienchen and I chatted for a minute or two amidst the hanging flowers and glass vases of the home décor store we were standing in, when she said ‘hey, do you have time for a glass of sekt?’ Hello? Do I ever! As much as a Saskatchewan-ite wants a great west light!
I really had such a nice, unexpected evening, that as I was walking home, I thought that these kinds of experiences were what I so loved and missed about living in my small town Saskatchewan.
Arriving home, great guy was still in his meeting with peter rabbit and the other sven, talking about potentially working together (would be so great for g.g!), with a smile on my face, I headed downstairs and started to write.
So, here are (in my humble opinion) a few ways in which I think living here on the Rhein in a small city, big town and my experience of living in a beautiful, biggish prairie town remind me of each other. These things make me so thankful of both places which have given me a home and the few incredible people who have filled them and me:
1) The run-in. I know only like twelve people here and whenever I go into ‘town’ I meet one of them. Just like in Rosthern. There, you just had to look for the cars you recognized parked on the side of the street…because nobody walks in small town Saskatchewan! Like running into bienchen here, or back in SK…meeting jeff outside of the hardware store, then shooting the breeze while sitting on the tailgate of his pickup (of course) watching the town folk walk by…saying hi or waving every now and then. Awesome.
2) Spontaneity. People just popping by your house on a Saturday afternoon or weekday evening, bringing supper (fried chicken in SK or donairs here-thank you Max and Bärbel!), icecream or cake or wine (okay, that’s just in Germany!). But, what I wouldn’t give for a BLL with my BFFs in SK right now!!
3) Water. The power of being so near to a huge river; the mighty north Saskatchewan and now the bustling Rhein…the former was busy with transportation oh a hundred years ago and the latter has quite the traffic problems now. The best thing I’ve seen on the Rhein so far was a long, slow-moving freighter carrying rows and rows of John Deere tractors. I couldn’t believe it. It felt like a little bit of Saskatchewan was floating by.
4) Ach, men. Moving faraway to be in relationships with smart, good-looking, unassuming men who barely talk, but can easily chop down a tree, cook a great meal, or build anything they set their minds on…very cool and total pains in the ass…did I write that? And, interestingly both are brothers of a friend of mine (not the same friend, of course).
5) The language. Since being in Germany I’ve had to majorly brush up my German skills and, well, in Saskatchwan I had to brush up my small talk…about a) the weather and b) the insects…grasshoppers, mosquitos, rats, etc. Is there anything else people talk about there?
6) History. Small, French men of yore…Louis Riel and Napoleon. Okay, I’m not exactly sure how short or tall Louis was, but he was at least half-french. Two remarkable characters, creating a bit of drama and a bit of bloodshed, with stories taking place right where I was and am living; and leaving interesting buildings, traditions, and fascinating words behind as proof that they were ‘here’. Cool.
7) God. Being on this and every journey…not knowing what I’m doing; if it’s right or wrong or just plain stupid, but knowing that at least I’m not alone. I will be okay, I will survive (okay that’s Gloria…kind of close), knowing that all is well with my soul.
8) and last but not least, wheat kings….and real kings!