Our footprints were distinctly shaped, marking our tracks in the snow. We even found animal prints on ice in this rural part of Sweden. We pondered. Could it be a reindeer come late or a smaller creature playing alongside the neatly carved cross country ski tracks? And then in a heartbeat we’re in flipflops, endearingly known as jandals in New Zealand. It’s been an incredible homecoming.
In our heads are a kaleidoscope of images. Memories of the blue waters and white sands of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides one moment, eclipsed by mental images of snow draped fir trees and immense mountain surrounds the next. We’re slowly reliving so many memories, so many adventures squeezed into half a year. Yet home is still home. The girls return to school today, slotting in as though they’ve never left. Familiar faces question whether we were really gone for 6 months, others ask if it went all too quickly.
We realise that we’ve returned to a quiet spot in the south pacific. The most internationally newsworthy event to strike us is the announcement that our Prime Minister is expecting a baby during her term as leader. A feat only matched by the legendary Benazir Bhutto. Apparently it made the front page of the Guardian. This at a time when that same publication will be reporting news of the US embassy moving to Jerusalem, Britain negotiating its divorce from the European Union, and agitators at the border between Syria and Turkey.
After so recently dropping coins at the feet of grown men wearing worn blankets while crouched on the icy pavement of Edinburgh’s main street, homelessness and child poverty seem inexcusable in this land of plenty. Something that both sides of parliament are keen to address. After-all our population is small and our environment is incredible. This record beating summer may be bringing draught and causing angst to our farmers but I’m shamefully embracing the liberty of heading out without the need for a waterproof or a coat. I truly feel blessed to have been born in this place.
We feel so enriched by the stronger connections we made on our journey with friends and family from afar. We’re equally fortunate to return to open arms and a network of friendships surrounding our children. Travel and adventure has only just begun for our family. It’s just that it will take place within these fair shores for now. When summer has passed we may cast new tracks in South Island snow. But for now we’re wearing our flip flops and floppy hats, happy to be settled until life takes us on our next journey.