Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wandelen & Lopen

photo by Dylan Struys

My Father-in-Law, whom the kids call Opa, visited us from Belgium for a little over a week to meet his first Grandchild. What a week! Eating. Drinking. More eating. Even more drinking. Laughing, roaming, long afternoon naps, exploring, etc. etc. etc. Plus it happened to be the first week of school for the older pair and by the time he was safely aboard his long flight home, we were all merrily exhausted. In fact, it seems to have taken me days to get back in the normal routine, and I know exactly why.

I miss the temporary routine with Opa around. I enjoyed his quiet morning ways, waiting until after I had accomplished the mad dash to the bus with the kids to come downstairs. We'd sip coffee, eat bread with preserves and cheese, chatting, and being entertained by the baby crawling around to get into one peril after another. They would play together while I cleaned up and at some point, Opa would disappear. At first I was bemused by his unannounced exits, but he was never far, maybe out walking the neighborhood or upstairs playing guitar. Dylan worked a few half days and when he would arrive home, he'd ask where his dad was, and I'd have to honestly (sheepishly) answer, "I have no idea." He nodded and mentioned his dad is a wanderer. After a day or so, I was used to losing him in the crowded street market, in a store, in the park, or in the house. He would silently amble up to us again much later, as if he had never been gone.

Tolkien wrote, "Not all those who wander are lost." I cannot imagine a more apt description for Opa. He has traveled the world, from one film set to another, and the stories he shares are incredible, but yet, delivered humbly and without guile. He takes in stride differences in cultures, some suit him more than others, but he is rarely openly negative about them, he simply understands things are different. He speaks many languages and delighted us with an acted out explanation of the difference between 'wandelen' and 'lopen', depending on if you speak Dutch or Flemish. Equally wonderful was his amusement at all the American stereotypes being proven true at every turn. I imagine I'll be amused when I visit Europe as well. We got along famously and I am so grateful to feel at home in the company of all of my in-laws. And the baby? As you can see from the photo, she adores her Opa.




Since his departure, I've been busy, but a good busy, drawing, knitting, reading, while the little naps. I'm gearing up for the cool weather knitting to begin, already have baby leg warmers on the needles and the wool for her tunic is winging its way to me as I write. I also have the inclination to make myself a new cowl and eventually stitch a baby quilt. The thought of autumn brings out my cozy creative side. We'll see how many projects I actually finish. I find the pre-fall knitting plans are similar to the pre-spring garden plans, but oh, how lovely it is to fill my thoughts with making things rather than worrying about things.


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