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November 17, 2012

This Isn't Lombok Anymore Maryanna

By Maryanna Gabriel

I am not allowed in the stores right now. I know myself. I have no self control. Well, I did need lights, didn’t I? It was a sale after all. I can manage a string of lights without going right off the rails. No worries, I have got this covered.  As I eyed the wares, I listened to a  woman say, “There ought to be a law against putting Christmas decorations up before December first." She seemed aggrieved. I nodded and said nothing. My eyes went to the artificial poinsettias in plastic vases on either side of the door. I smiled fondly. You see my last Christmas was in Lombok. It seemed like a good idea at the time and I vaguely knew what I was getting into but as we left the country I said to myself, well maybe I could have done with at least one Christmas bulb. Nor did I feel welcome there. It is Muslim being influenced hundreds of years ago by Saudi traders. I remember the monkeys on the roof, the enormous spiders, the rice fields, the downpours, the calls to Allah before dawn as today I unpack my Christmas decoration box, take cookies out of the oven, and write Christmas cards by the fire. I love Christmas. 

November 10, 2012

Losing That Canadian Edge

By Maryanna Gabriel

When I was travelling I used to marvel at how people shivered and shook for what was for me an absolutely balmy experience. “I’m a Canadian,” I explained as I jumped into a pool that others just stuck their toes in and withdrew shaking their heads. Australians warned me about Tasmania. “It is so cold there,” they said. “I’m from Canada,” was my unconcerned reply finding Tasmania a relief from the steamy sun. Here I am at home, it being not even winter yet, the temperatures are hovering well above zero. I can barely manage. Yes, I know the eastern seaboard is suffering great travail, and  yes, I know most of Canada is blanketed in snow where we have none here in the coastal west, yet still here I am, my robe clutched madly around me, with heaters going in every room and fire roaring.  Yet still my bones whisper their icy message. I am trying to not to whinge and whimper but I can’t help noticing that I have lost my edge and I am wondering at my nonchalance mere weeks ago. “Oh winter. No problem. I have just had a year of summer. I can do it.” I think I am running a fever. Every room has a box of kleenex that I shuffle desperately towards. I am remembering meeting a woman from Kauai who looked at me compassionately. “Your winters, it must be so very hard.” It startled me. She felt genuinely sorry for me. I remember her now as I realize I have become one of them. Those others. A snow bird marooned north of the 49th.This nipping, biting, stinging of temperature creeping into one’s bones feels so very wrong. How could this happen to me?