I just don’t know what you’d make of all this Nana! Sometimes I try and imagine what you would think of all this, you are such an adventurer – a woman ahead of your time – I know there are aspects of all this you would embrace, you would be excited about our compound and our apartment, you would have stories of so many friends you made around the world and the different ways they live, you would adore the greenery – all the green spaces and gardens would excite you, you would be telling us the names of the plants around here and you’d be excited to learn about new ones. I thought of you on our first morning here when it was a bird singing that woke me up – it was the most reassuring thing – to wake up to our first full day in this mega city of Shanghai with its polluted skies, and hear birds in the gardens outside our windows. Would you have jumped out of bed to try and identify that bird? Or would you have lain in bed quiet and still to enjoy that song while it lasted?
I took the children to the flower market, and its impossible to not think of you in that place! I know you much prefer living flowers to cut ones, but you would be so impressed to see the masses of cut flowers there, every kind and colour you can imagine! What really impresses though, are your beloved orchids. You can’t imagine the orchids! I intend to buy some, but I fear I didn’t inherit your skill in actually keeping the poor things alive – but I’ll give it a try in your honour! The bonsai trees I’ll have to keep visiting the market to appreciate, they are spectacular, but Nana even you couldn’t keep your bonsai tree alive, there’s very little hope for me!
The kids appreciated looking at all the flowers, briefly, but what really captured their attention was the pets. Predictably, Leo is desperate to bring home a pet turtle! I’m not so keen, I’m trying to put him off, yes I can hear you calling me a spoil sport over that one! The turtles are everywhere; any vessel that could hold water was holding a turtle or 50, turtles of every size, in nearly every market stall. I’m sure that before the summer break is over Leo will have a turtle tank in his room. We also saw fish, puppies and more startling were the squirrels and hedgehogs also for sale! I hate to think how sad you would have been to see their conditions.
I think you would approve of the adventures we’re having, you were a world traveller yourself: Europe, Asia and all over North America. I loved your stories of friends you made around the world and I loved how happy it made you to receive letters and Christmas cards from them all. I don’t know how many hours we spent looking through your travel photos – I was also so impressed with them, photos of you and Grandad in exotic places, Grandad always looking stoic, perhaps with a flicker of a smile, you often doing something cheeky and always grinning!
I can’t express how badly I want to share some of this adventure with you, how much I want to write to you or phone you at home, I would describe what we are doing and seeing, you would reflect on your own travels and I would be reminded who the real explorer is. Instead, I know that you’d approve of all this, and that will have to be enough.