Going home to Connecticut for a weekend highlighted for me the differences between living in the city of Washington, DC, and living in suburban Connecticut.
The first obvious difference was the color of the ground. Connecticut had received a generous helping of snow from the most recent winter storm, and there was white everywhere. In contrast, the federal government had closed on Wednesday for what we all called the “snowquester,” but our precipitation all came as rain. Certainly DC was right on the line between rain and snow, and we were not far from areas that received significant accumulations, but just like local school districts that are laughed at for closing too early (and are assailed if they do not), the residents of the Capital roundly mocked the closure for lack of snow. As a side note, apparently the federal government does not include Congress, since the Senate was in session all day (and into the night for Senator Paul’s filibuster). My triple heritage of growing up in Upstate New York, living in Connecticut, and currently belonging to Colorado gave me a particularly lofty attitude toward the snow and just how much it would take to keep me home from work. Going back to Connecticut where the roads were all bare mere hours after the latest snow ended reminded me of just how easily Nutmeggers take snow in stride. (Connecticut is the Nutmeg State, and if you try the alternatives options for referring to state residents, such as Connecticutters or Connecticutians, you’ll understand why Nutmeggers is the preferred term.)
The strangest part of my trip was the novelty of getting into a car. In the past ten weeks, I think I’ve ridden in a car twice. My life focuses on walking and on the Metro. Cars don’t even have a spot to tap my farecard. I haven’t particularly missed having a car, and I especially haven’t missed sitting in DC traffic, although I do acknowledge that in Connecticut, car transport is vastly faster and more direct than mass transit.
In my mornings at home, when I took the dog for a walk, I was aware of the difference in sounds. The tweets, chirps, and rat-a-tat-tats that combined to create the morning bird chorus made me realize how little wildlife I encounter in DC. (Congress doesn’t count!) Traffic was present from a distant highway rather than being outside my window. I specifically chose an apartment in DC that had trees and land nearby, but I have missed the open expanse of park across from my house in Newington.
The contrast between being an apartment dweller and a homeowner was also acute. There is only so much cleaning and puttering that can be done in an apartment, and then I am done. In a house, I found myself constantly noticing small and large tasks that could use attention, and as all homeowners know, there is never a “done” in a house. Still, I also was aware of many past projects that had been completed, and I had the satisfaction of seeing my own handiwork and taking pride in my abilities. Our boldly colored walls are certainly a change from the standard white walls of my apartment.
My Beloved Husband took me out for breakfast on Saturday morning, and I was struck by how short the buildings are and how far apart. During pre-fellowship visits to DC, I had been a bit concerned that all the concrete would get on my nerves, and I certainly felt that my soul had more space to breathe in Connecticut.
Since Saturday was warm, the snow melted very quickly, which allowed my BH and I to get out in the garden. We took care of some branches that had come down in various storms, and then we walked around and observed the progress of the many bulbs announcing the approach of spring. Some of our most enjoyable time was spent imagining and planning projects. I sensed that I was bringing a different big picture approach to the planning process that has probably been influenced by my current job and how I approach problems there. My BH and I discussed the fundamental principles around which a garden should be designed, and we came up with LAWW: Light, Access, Water, and Weeds. That’s a new perspective for our designs, and I suspect it will guide our future projects.
I have absolutely loved my fellowship year in DC, and my wise BH keeps reminding me not to wish my time away. I am determined to enjoy every minute that I am here, but this past weekend reminded me that when it comes to an end, I will also enjoy returning to Connecticut and a different flavor of life’s adventures.