Sunday, April 19, 2009

Time's running out

The passerelle de deux rives - a foot bridge in the bi-national park on the banks of the Rhine river between Strasbourg and Kehl, in Germany

Amynah have been here almost three years. That's thirty-four months, 146 weeks, or more than 1000 days.

Soon after we arrived here, we were invited, along with several others from Amynah’s new lab, to a dinner at Amynah’s boss’s home. Brigitte and her husband Alain laid on a true Alsatian feast for us: an apertif of cremant (Alsatian champagne) heaping mounds of choucroute, Alsatian wines, bretzels, local cheeses and tarts with fruits picked from the fields and orchards near their village, with an digestif of eau de vie (schnapps) distilled in their neighbour’s barn.

The company was worldly and oh-so Euro-sophisticated, the conversation lively, the hospitality impeccable. Almost all the guests spoke at least two languages fluently – many spoke three or more. I felt welcomed, yet overwhelmed, intimidated, provincial, and completely out of my element.

Yesterday, Amynah and I invited Alain and Brigitte over for lunch. We served fresh trout and homemade rhubarb tart, the fundamentals of which were purchased at our local organic farmer’s market, where we are recognized to the point that the vendors notice our absence when we aren’t around.

Prior to this, I had taken Brigitte and Alain to the “super secret location” – the highlight of my Strasbourg tour, a place unmarked on the city maps, unseen by the tour groups, unadvertised in the city’s information offices. Brigitte and Alain, both native Alsatians, who’d lived in Strasbourg for decades, were almost entirely unaware of its existence before I introduced them to it.

We have thus come full circle in Strasbourg, and so, sadly, it is time to leave.

In a little over three months, Amynah and I will be quitting France. Many of you already know what our next destination is, and an more details will be posted here as they are known (hint: probably California). Before that, is our intention to drive coast to coast, visiting all the major centres in Canada where we know people in August. This way, we hope to remind you all what we look like while simultaneously encouraging you to visit us in our future home. So stay put.

In the interim, I will likely start posting even more of the “local history” type posts I’ve been doing here (including, eventually, the super-secret location), as a way of giving those people who’ve not visited us here a taste of what I love about this place. We are still hoping to squeeze in both some last-minute visitors, and some Euro-travels of our own. After that, we will be saying adieu to the many new friends we've made here, packing several kilograms of Alsatian pottery, and starting another new adventure, in another foreign land. I suspect I will find new ways to have my ever-popular biking misadventures there are well (though, given the car-obsessed reputation of the city to which we’re moving, I may be burned as a witch for attempting to bike there). With luck, I will continue to blog there for as long as it is interesting.


Victor Chisholm said...

California sounds like the perfect place for more cycling MISadventures. I know you won't disappoint your faithful readers.

Jul said...

Will be sad to see you go (and without us having managed to meet face-to-face). Hopefully California will continue to inspire you to blog.

julie said...

We might be coming! We're working on details! I want to see the secret location!!! :)

Mark Reynolds said...

Victor: The thought of braving 8 lane roads without a full suit of armor seems foolhardy in the extreme. I'm happy to oblige.

Jul: I haven't yet ruled out visiting - it's so damn close! I'll be deeply sad if I don't.

Julie: We're not going anywhere before you arrive, and I'll try not to spoil the secret before then. You're the last scheduled visitor!