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Thirty-two years ago I arrived on American soil and have never left for anything more than a vacation since. When I disembarked, I was a strange mix of a native and a tourist. I vowed to make life happen again.

Tonight, all these years and all this wisdom later, I watch as the rain changes over to fat flakes of the first snow, falling gently, melting into oblivion immediately – it is not time yet….

Years of living near the equator left me ill-equipped for life in New England as the land hunkered down in darkness and cold. I owned no winter clothes; not a single pair of socks, gloves mittens or even a wool scarf. I built a wardrobe from the kindness of friends and family.  A Civet Cat fur coat (hand-me-down from a family friend) still hangs in my closet. It is too fragile to wear, but the beautifully striped skins of this animal come from the dark forests for Southeast Asia. That and layer upon layer of textile got me through those first winters.

Many years later, I have tamed the cold, though I still wonder what drew me back to this stark contrast to a tropical environment of rain forests and ancient temples.

It fascinates me the little traits I have learned along the way. Indonesia, Jakarta in particular, was a very cowed world. People had much less personal space; particularly when you compare my acres that stretch to the ledges vs. life in a city of millions. I learned the most basic and comfortable human position – the squat. It’s a seat no matter where you find yourself, it brings your vision in line with every small detail of life, it is the perfect posture for aligning the body in a relaxed posture.

After the first few self-conscious attempts, it becomes natural, almost instinctive. When I perch on the raised hearth, in front of my fire to coax the heat every night, I find I am comfortably posed in the Indonesian squat…

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbHDifferent hats, same squat…Duncan and I in Jakarta 1982

 

10 comments on “To every thing there is a season…

  1. Doppleganger says:

    I believe you, but admit it hurts me knees just to look at your picture! I might get down in the squat but would never get up!

    1. I don’t know why but once you become acclimated, it is really comfortable!

  2. One of the things that struck me most when I lived in Asia was the squat! I could never understand how people could do it for long periods of time – it was so uncomfortable to me (and still is)!

    1. Maybe it has to do with peoples’ build? They are short and slight, I am too. So glad it brought back a memory or two for you! Thanks for commenting.

  3. Touring NH says:

    I would squat if my knees would let me! And, I agree – to early for flakes.

    1. Knees and eyes seem to be the first thing to go, right?

  4. I think my squatting days are over. If only my snow shoveling days were.
    I think I would have stayed where it was warm, but I don’t know if I could have handled being that close to the equator. Late May in Florida was too hot for me.

    1. The snow season isn’t all that long and the other three seasons really do make up for it. Shoveling days here we come!!

  5. Marie Keates says:

    It’s strange to think of you with snow falling while it’s still mostly warm here. This seems to have been the warmest autumn I remember but the downside is a lack of leaf colour.

    1. Marie we have had a total mix of cold, warm, gorgeous color and now the “stick season”…

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