Returning to Canada initially felt like a vacation. My first order of business was poutine, a beavertail, and a slurpee. I had wisely chosen to return near the end of summer, so I could dip my toe into the autumn and slowly ease myself into the winter. The splendor of the changing of seasons was something I had forgotten. My eyes were treated to the myriad colours of the fall leaves which could easily rival the beauty of Bermuda's scenery . Though I was no longer pleasing my ears with the rhythmic lapping of waves on the shoreline, the sound of crunching leaves brought back a pleasure I hadn’t known for many years.
However, when the novelty had worn off, adjusting to Canada was not as easy as I would have hoped. Twelve years is a long time to live anywhere. I had plucked myself out of my comfort zone and left friends, co-workers, and familiarity behind. That first year I felt like a fish out of water. Winter, in particular, took some serious adapting. Fortunately, the first one we returned to was unseasonably warm. My daughter had never experienced snow and took to it like a seasoned Canuck. Although, the following two polar vortex winters had me questioning my decision.
I was in my homeland though, and the best thing about Canada is Canadians. The weather may be cold, but the people are warm. I was no longer reminded I was a foreigner. No one asked me where I came from and when was I planning on going home. Making new friends in our great nation was easy. There is a way about Canadians that makes me proud to be one. Simply put, we are open to one another and we celebrate our differences. Our smiles are genuine and our hearts are generous.
While visiting, a friend of mine had noted that the houses in Canada seemed to be almost plain on the outside, but were interesting, comfortable, and unique on the inside. This was in contrast to Bermuda, where much care is given to exterior of buildings and less so the interior. Generally speaking, I felt he was not just referring to our homes, but also our natures.
My island years were enjoyable. There are days when I wish I could walk out my front door and head to the crystal blue waters and soft pink sands of a Bermuda beach. However, Canada's beauty comes not only from its geography, but from its diverse and compassionate inhabitants. There is a quote I had read as a young girl before I had begun travelling. I now understand why it remained hidden in the recesses of my mind until now.
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” - T.S. Eliot
Rina Gibbons is the mom of a self-proclaimed 5-year-old “Wild Child” - apparently the apple landed right next to the tree. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and is now in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College. Having travelled to over 20 countries she has recently realized Dorothy was right, “There’s no place like home."