Well, we've now moved to the country for the next few months - the day Matīss finished kindergarten we got into the car (along with the kindy guinea pig) and headed straight to Kūgures (our country house). So that's why we haven't been answering emails or phone calls. The first few days are always a bit stressful because we don't have an internet connection down there - or a landline for that matter - and so I feel like I've cut myself off from the world.
The country is so INTENSE at the moment - we've just celebrated Jāņi, the summer solstice, and paid homage to the sun (at Jāņi, the longest day of the year, it never really gets properly dark, and the sun technically sets for a few hours) and basked in the gloriousness of the countryside at its peak. On the day before Jāņi I did the traditional thing for girls to do, wandered out into a field to pick flowers for my wreath - and sat down amongst the staggering array of wildflowers. The sight was amazing - dozens of different flowers and plants all 'doing their thing', with the heavy honey aroma enveloping me and the sound of a million bees buzzing all around.
So who cares that it was raining all morning - a warm summer rain - we waded out through waist-high grass to cut branches from oak trees anyway. Then managed to bog the car and had to walk back home, gathering cornflowers and poppies along the way.
It was the first year we celebrated Jāņi at Kūgures. About 40 Jāņa bērni ('Jānis' children') came to help us, and we spent a day involved in pagan ceremony. Here's some pics. I won't go into the whole ethnographic explanation. Suffice it to say that I don't believe in all the new-age mumbo jumbo, but I am convinced that at Jāņi the whole of the country vibrates some kind of magical energy. If you don't believe me, come over on the 24th June next year and see if I'm right.

Two years is just about long enough. It's the amount of time that I can be away from Australia, and then I start getting "home sick". Although I'm not sure its technically "homesick" anymore, just "Australiasick" or more accurately, "Brisbanesick". I envy those emigre Latvians who were born in Germany and when they moved back to Latvia, just had to fly two hours north and they were there. They certainly don't have the dilemma of missing the specific environment, weather and lifestyles like we Aussie Latvians do. They can go back to Germany on their holidays for short holidays. When they ring Germany, there's only a one hour time difference. When its daytime in Latvia, its daytime in Germany. When its winter in Latvia, its also winter in Germany, etc, etc.
Whereas when I compare Australia to Latvia, everything is upside down - literally on the other side of the world. I know we all know its a different hemisphere, but it makes an impact. I'm awake when you're asleep. When we look in the night sky over here, we don't even see the same stars as you do. When we are chopping down christmas trees in a snowdrift, you're sweltering next to the bbq. I'll bet that its even true what they say about the water spiralling down the sink in the opposite direction!
I remember the last time we were in Oz (that'll be OVER two years ago now) and those magical first three days after arriving - when you see the new land with the new-vision goggles, where you can see everything, every detail and value it as something interesting and inspirational. I remember studying the gum trees in the tiny little bush-park in the 'burbs, and wondering at the texture of the bark and the combination of earthy colour tones, vowing to get my camera and take some snaps of the breathtaking fusion of natural delights for friends back in Latvia. I was overawed by the smells and sounds of the bush and the burnt out grass and rugged, wild coastline. But after a few days those little details - the bark and the colours and the smells - become assimilated and you don't 'see' them clearly any more. And later I could hardly remember which details were remarkable enough to photograph.
But after two more years of life in Latvia I'm getting flashbacks. I really need a dose of:
lazy, hot afternoons with bare feet on wooden verandahs and watching the electrical storm break later in the evening; eating breakfast OUTDOORS when the cicadas have already started up their heat stress song and reading the Saturday paper with its umpteen special supplements and advertising pamphlets; those friendly guys at the take-away shop/deli/newsagents who ask you: "so how was your weekend?" eventhough you've never met them before; ripe mangoes, tinned spaghetti, kalamata olives; garage sales and the crusty recyled-second hand culture; the view from our house in Pullenvale (see above); poking around in rock pools and watching the surf break on the rocks, that salt-spray taste in the air; friendly strangers and helpful bureaucrats. And funnily, after writing this list, I realise that the things I miss about Oz are little details - there's not really much 'big picture' stuff I yearn for. Just small things that I have come to realise are totally ingrained in me. That feeling of hot air on my skin; the humidity after it's rained. Little things that I can't even describe.
And then, of course, its all those people that we miss like crazy. And all of those milestones and life events that we cannot be there to share, no matter how much we wish we could: I haven't yet seen my best friend, Mel, as a parent eventhough Jack is already over a year old. I can't think of anything better than us letting our kids run riot around us while we yabber amongst the chaos. I'd love to give Andy and Leisel's new daughter a kiss and a cuddle, and to offer to take big brother Gabe out for the afternoon to help out. I want to see Matīss and Mikus at their Oma's sitting down for dinner (with the 'good' tablecloth on because we've come to visit!) Again it's those little details which seem insignificant which make my heart ache for Australia almost every day...

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