Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Settling In

When you live somewhere for a while, you start to lose perspective. I imagine a family living at the top of the highest mountain would at first delight in every day, wonder at the heights and the everlasting sun above the clouds. But after a while, the inconveniences of everyday living would start to make their impressions. It can’t be easy to get food to the top of a mountain, it’s dangerous for the children, and it’s often chillingly cold. Eventually, though, these problems are overcome and life becomes routine.

We have lived in Basel, Switzerland for nearly three months now, and like the family on the mountain, I was amazed by the sights and the history and the newness of our situation. And then, the realities of overly frequent trips to the grocery store, of not understanding what the people on the trams are saying about my children’s noise, of daily discovering new rules that don’t seem to make sense, of everything shutting down on Sundays; these realities kicked in and I felt lost in my new world. The only stability in my routine was getting the kids to and from school. Everything else was sporadic and frantic, like I was swimming upward in an ever-deepening well. The honeymoon was over.

While there are still days like that, our family has settled in. Our discoveries are much less exciting sounding now—rather than finding a thousand year old skeleton being excavated behind the town hall, we find an easier way to get to school by bus instead of tram. Rather than discovering a castle on top of a hill, we find that we can order something from menu in German and know what to expect when the dish arrives. Rather than watching gladiators enact a battle in the ruins of a Roman theatre, we find a set of stairs that leads to a part of town we already know. These little discoveries have become victories. They are a part of our new life in Basel.

Although I still have to go to the grocery store almost every day, and I still have to collect the kids from school, I am becoming a new person here. My mind is expanding along with my world. And occasionally I am overwhelmed by the sight of the Rhine rushing below the bridge that is along my daily trek to school.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sunrise in Basel

The sun will rise again on Basel

Filtered through the fog

too week to even reflect

off the rushing waters of the Rhine

But it will rise again in Basel

Breaking through the clouds

to shimmer on the gulls

and swans risking chilly feet

to dip for fish on the morning River

And it will rise again on Basel

tripping and flipping through fluttering yellow leaves

hesitantly falling to the

cobblestones along the River's path

The sun will rise again on Basel

to spark the golden spires

and flowered sloping rooftops

hovering over the Rhine

Yes, the sun will rise again on Basel.