Rain, rain, rain

When I moved to the Pacific Northwest it took awhile to come to terms with the perpetual grey skies and rain. I was used to the weather in the mid-west: really cold winters with feet of snow and really hot summers with tornadoes. There were even laws about shovelling your walk within 24 hours of a new snow fall. And, generally, lots and lots of sunshine. People really did go ‘snow blind’ in the winter because of the bright sunshine reflecting off fresh, clean snow. Eventually I acclimated to living in the Puget Sound region but I did still miss being really hot at least a few days out of the year. But I didn’t miss the snow. Been there, shovelled that, glad to ditch the tire chains.

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August Olm

In the late 1840s there were a series of revolutions and wars across much of Europe. In Germany lots people were displaced and/or fed up and decided to emigrate to America. They were called the Forty-Eighters as the war that forced them out happened in 1848. Quite a few of them settled in Wisconsin near Lake Michigan. Regardless of what profession they had back in the ‘old country’ many became farmers. The countryside was gridded and parcelled out. Even today the county roads tend to run straight north-south or east-west. While they came from all over Germany and Prussia they had enough in common to set up a large Germanic enclave. They spoke German, ate German food, played German music and mostly intermarried.

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I’m an American. I was born and raised in various places in the western United State. I moved to the UK when I was in my very late 30s, about 15 years ago, and while I’d rather live in Ye Olde England I still sometimes find myself reacting to and comparing situations in the UK to ones in America. Even after a decade and a half I am frequently made aware of how my initial reactions to events are primarily dictated by my upbringing west of the Mississippi and east of San Fran. You can take the boy out of the US but . . .

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