So. I've finally arrived in London!

The Canadian, MomE and I disembarked at Southampton cruise terminal and were greeted with absolutely miserable weather -- gray, drizzling and damp cold.  I almost turned around and commandeered the QM2 to sail back to Texas where it was a balmy 105 degrees. But, in the spirit of Keep Calm and Carry On, I took a deep breath and moved forward.

We arrived at the house the Canadian had found (I promise, there will be pics soon!) and it was my first time to see my new neighborhood and where I'd be living.  I was incredibly quiet as I walked through the house and I think I gave the poor Canadian a heart attack because I didn't say a word.  He was so worried I wouldn't like it and was nervous that maybe he had really done something wrong.

I just couldn't speak because I was thoroughly overwhelmed and was processing everything -- including the fact that I had just moved to London.  The gloomy weather had dampened my mood and I had this feeling that maybe I'd made the wrong decision.  Maybe we shouldn't have moved here. Maybe we'd made a mistake.  I held back tears as I went room by room -- touching doors and windows, opening cabinets and seeing the rooms I'd live in for at least the next year.  It wasn't so much that anything was wrong with the house or with London, but I felt pangs of loneliness for my friends back home, I missed the heat and sunshine, and everything seemed foreign and overwhelming.

The Canadian asked if I was ok and I said I was, and MomE just said "I think she's processing" and I said "I am."

I knew that I needed to do something to make the house my own. It felt so unfamiliar -- like some other person lived there (and the unattractive rental furniture didn't help).  I felt like maybe I needed some flowers. As it turns out, I have a lovely, albeit small, garden.  It's overgrown and unkempt, but thoroughly English and quaint.  So I went outside, with some rental kitchen scissors, the rain drizzling down my face, and I just started clipping flowers in hopes of brightening the gloom...and then I saw it.  A butterfly bush.

When I moved into my house in Austin, one of the first plants I planted in my garden was a butterfly bush.  It grew like mad and after a year, a sweet family of cardinals moved in and hatched a few baby birds.

One night a horrendous thunderstorm swept through town and with it came a massive hailstorm.  Normally when it rained I would check on the birds and would see the mama cardinal on the nest, wings spread out, protecting her babies.  But this time she was off somewhere and I was worried that the hail would knock out or kill one of the babies. 

So I convinced the Canadian (who was in his pajamas) to go out into the hail storm (unprotected) and hold an umbrella over the butterfly bush, to protect the babies (meanwhile getting pelted by the hail because the umbrella was over the bush).  About 10 minutes later the storm passed and the babies were ok.  A few weeks later, I watched as the mama and dad cardinals nudged their babies out of the nest, across my garden and into the woods behind my house.  The next year the mama and dad cardinal returned to the butterfly bush and hatched another set of babies (no hailstorms this time) and I loved going out in the morning to check on my tiny family -- it made me feel as though I'd created a welcoming place where the birds felt safe.
Picture
My first year of baby cardinals in the butterfly bush...how cute are they?! They had hatched only a few days before in this pic.
The butterfly bush was always alive with the local fauna -- bees, butterflies, and other critters living in and around it and I often sat outside watching nature take it's course and the garden serving as a resting spot for those who needed it.  It's been a constant in my life ever since we moved into our home in Austin and when I walked into my London garden, seeing that giant purple butterfly bush felt like it was a sign that I was ok, that things weren't so foreign, that a little piece of home was in my garden here, and that this place was telling me that it would take care of me if I took care of it. 

I snipped three branches of the vibrant purple flowers, a bit of foxgl and some yellow foliage, brought them inside and put them in a glass pitcher I found -- and now forever, for me, the butterfly bush will remind me that home is where the butterfly bush is.
Picture
My tiny garden bouquet
6/20/2011 11:27:36 pm

Welcome.
Breathe. Make yourself a cup of tea. The advantage to the rain, a hot cup of tea is almost always appropriate. It makes many things better.

Rental furniture is tacky, no?

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6/21/2011 01:49:26 am

I think you're going to love it here!

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6/21/2011 08:31:08 am

Welcome indeed! So many adventures ahead of you and the appropriate amount of nesting. Can't wait to read what's next.

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6/21/2011 09:01:04 pm

I seriously do not think you could have asked for a better sign to tell you that you are home than than butterfly bush!
Have fun settling into your new home and exploring your new city... London rocks!

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AHLondon
6/25/2011 01:48:22 am

five days, no posts, no comments. Mental health check. How are you doing?

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AHLondon
6/26/2011 08:50:20 pm

Iced early grey. Trust me.
http://americanhousewifeinlondon.blogspot.com/2010/05/iced-tea.html
This weather might only last a few days--longest I've seen is three weeks. Get a fan before they are sold out. Make iced tea.

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Welcome, welcome, welcome ... I wish I could be there to talk with you a bit about the mix of feelings you must be having, but I'm still stuck in the US. It could be mid-August before I make it back.

I'm sending you an email concerning shipping your household goods and something to be aware of when they arrive in port. This was what I alluded to in a previous comment.

I hear the sun has come out in Cornwall where I normally live, I hope it has spread your way as well.

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