Gone Fishin’

Recently we spent a long weekend on the shores of one of the thousands of lakes that dot Ontario. The weather was fantastic, so we spent lots of time paddling, in canoes and in the pool. Most of the time, however, we spent fishing. The kids had a fantastic time trying out different bait and lures, finding the perfect combination for catching the little sunfish and bass lurking in the water under the dock. A simple hook with a worm did the trick.

Fishing with my kids reminded me of my own childhood, fishing with my parents at similar lakes, or in rivers, anywhere we wanted. When my oldest received a fishing pole as a birthday gift a few years ago, however, we were a bit lost in Germany: where can we go fishing? We ended up at a nearby trout farm, pulling bored fish out of unsanitary-looking ponds. It was unsatisfying to say the least. Continue reading

Getting in with the In Crowd

Recently some fellow Americans moved in down the street. We figured this out before we talked to them, as there were some telltale expat signs around the house. One day I stopped the new neighbor while he was out walking his dog and we had a brief chat, marveling at how small the world is and how connected our distant lives actually are. After this chat, I had every reason to swing by and welcome them properly to the neighborhood – isn’t that what we Americans do for our new neighbors? And yet, I hesitated. You don’t just drop in on people in Germany. There is no such thing as a welcome wagon. Don’t bother the neighbors… everyone is packed in tightly enough here without having to socialize on top of it.

Eventually I reasoned that I have simply lived here far too long, and if I remember back to being new myself, I would have greatly appreciated others reaching out to welcome me. Shortly after our initial meeting, I stopped by my new neighbors’ house unannounced, and brought food, and I think they even appreciated it. Continue reading