Six Month Reflections - Plus, A Vilnius Cookbook Returns Home
Updated: Mar 3
Wow, it's been six months since I landed in Vilnius - a whole new country, and truly a whole new way of life. It's been a long time since I've seen this much snow... but hey, I used to live in the mountains. I remember how this goes. I've got my tea, my tunes, my friends who give good hugs, and the Texas sunlight seeping through my veins from my most recent trip back to the States.
But I've also come back from last week's rest and rejuvenation into more activation and springiness. I feel so much more charged and enlivened - was it giving myself permission to rest? Was it the rooibos tea? The continuous snow? The challah? (Definitely the challah!) Either way, I'm glad I listened to what I needed - and even moreso, that I had the privilege of time to steep in it.
Some of my friends here have asked me if I felt disappointed coming back to Lithuania after seeing friends and family in the United States. And the truth is... no. I mean, am I sad that I won't be able to see my family for a while? Of course! But we had so much to come back to (including a sweet dog), and more seasons to move into. My husband has outright told me that at multiple times in the States, he missed Lithuania and wished he was back here. I'd say that's pretty telling - and very honest! I did my best to be present with the time I was allotted, but I know what he meant - we have a life here. We live Life here.
I still revel in the fact that McDonald's tastes better here, that malls are still a thing, that vanilla sugar has replaced vanilla extract, that some things just get lost in translation. (For example: my body wash bottle describes itself as: "The combination of milk protein and honey extract possesses moisturizing properties and has been used in beauty procedures since times out of mind." Times out of mind - I love it! I know how you feel, little bottle.) More than anything, I'm proud of us for taking the steps to move here, because it says so much about who we are and how we live our lives. I think that's beautiful! And I keep coming across beautiful things.
This past weekend, we hiked through a forest about 40 minutes north of Vilnius, and I came across some little worlds that felt like a lived dream: that same soft mossy carpet, the blueberry leaves, the trees speaking to me like I'm some kind of forest criatura. But then, we came across two wooden statues, one of Medeinė, the protector of the forest (who I've mentioned previously!), and another of what can only be described as the Green Man. The Green Man has made his way to us from pagan times, found his way onto church walls, and then back out into the woods again. I was so happily stunned to see him, I may have almost cried...
The words carved below translate to "under the oak."
So okay, that's pretty magical. And if that's six months in, what's next, you know? Alright, speaking of magical...
If you remember my post about Fania Lewando, Vilna vegetarian and entrepreneur extraordinaire, you might want to settle in with some tea. (A quick recap: my mom sent me a link about this amazing Jewish woman, I found a great article about her written by - surprise! - a new tour guide friend, and then I hung out with this friend and she shared more stories over coffee. It was my own version of National Treasure, okay?)
I went back to the United States and - much to my surprise - my mom and aunt had gone in on gifting me one of these incredibly hard-to-find cookbooks. So, I brought a YIVO copy with me around the States, back through London, Finland, and finally, to its original home, Vilnius. It only feels right to have it here. Maybe next week, I'll cook one of her recipes for dinner! I mean, when in Vilnius...
So all in all, six months in, it's still pretty damn beautiful here, as lucky as we are to live right next to a forest that continues to push my edges in all the right ways. Maybe someday it'll stop snowing, but until then, I'll do my best to revel in its beauty.
Viso gero from a snowy and white Vilnius!