Moonrise over the Seattle skyline, from our patio

The first sentence is always the hardest to write, isn’t it? I’ve been sitting here for two days trying to figure out how I should open this post – should I offer up excuses for being absent far longer than intended, or should I just pick up where I left off nearly three months ago? I know I just about vanished off the face of the earth after putting up that last post, and I wouldn’t blame you for wondering if our plane from Scotland crashed or if Seattle simply swallowed us whole. In fact, there aren’t really any excuses to give other than moving countries is one crazy business, and settling in has taken far longer than either of us expected. But then again, we weren’t exactly rushing things either; between visiting various branches of my family, taking care of all the logistical things that accompany a big move and trying to actually enjoy the summer a little bit, we were here for six weeks before I even opened up craigslist and looked at the rental listings for the first time.

Can you spot the Space Needle? 😉

The good news is, though, that after several nightmarish weeks of house-hunting (and sleepless nights spent wondering if any landlord in Seattle would be willing to overlook our lack of verifiable income and local rental history), we’ve not only found a place, signed a lease, moved in, and stocked it with furniture, but it’s a place so wonderful that I still pinch myself every now and then just to make sure it isn’t all a dream. It’s by no means what we pictured months ago when we started wondering what our new life would look like, but life always has a way of surprising you, doesn’t it? The biggest surprise, I guess, is that it’s not actually in Seattle at all; when push came to shove during our search, we realized that despite our initial plan, we would much prefer to be outside the city than in, in a place where we might be woken up by birds instead of car alarms, and where trees would far outnumber people. And that’s what we found, a thirty-five minute ferry ride to the west of Seattle, on a bucolic strip of green in Puget Sound called Bainbridge Island. Our home is a little cottage that was built as a guest house to a 100-year-old farmhouse; both buildings sit on an acre of waterfront land, with uninterrupted views east to Seattle and the spine of the Cascades, and south to snow-covered Mount Rainier. Our cottage is small, but it is light-filled and cozy, and has views of either gardens or sea from every window. We have plum and cherry trees out the back, and a lovely patio out front that has hosted a barbecue nearly every night since we moved in. We’re located a mere twenty minute walk from the Seattle ferry, and from the almost-too-quaint-for-words town of Winslow, which offers plenty of shops, restaurants and cafés when we don’t feel like braving the big city. And our landlords, who share our property, are the icing on the cake, being just about the nicest people we’ve ever met – in particular, they’ve graciously offered themselves up for any kind of recipe evaluation or surplus baked-good disposal I might require. 🙂

Our very own plums!

So physically, we’re all settled in; mentally, though, it’s probably going to take a while longer. I still often find myself feeling like a foreigner here, stupefied at certain cultural things I don’t seem to have noticed before – like for example the amount of choice on offer for everything. Whenever I go shopping I end up spending twice as much time as I should because I have to decide things like, say, which laundry detergent to buy. Do I want powder or liquid, the scent of spring rains or mountain breezes; regular strength or double concentrate; added fabric softener, deodorant or baking soda; bleach or bleach alternative; normal or enhanced sudsing power? And then there’s the shock of realizing that so many things I relied on as staples of my European diet are going to be occasional, expensive treats here: sheep’s-milk feta, good-quality ricotta, piquillo peppers and Spanish chorizo…

Overall, though, we haven’t woken up a single morning regretting that we made this move, and particularly on the food front, any inconvenience is small potatoes compared to the rewards. After all, we can buy yard-long bunches of rainbow chard, purple carrots and heirloom tomatoes as big as melons at our island farmer’s market; Mexican food and sushi are cheap and plentiful again; and on the pantry shelf are enough jars of homemade peach and berry jams – made with fruit we picked ourselves! – to last us half a lifetime. Most exciting, though, is that we have one of the western hemisphere’s greatest food cities on our doorstep, with enough markets and restaurants and bakeries to keep us busy tasting and exploring for a very, very long time. It’s a half-hour boat ride away, to be sure, but the way I see it, that just gives us a little more time to work up an appetite.

Welcome back, everyone, and thanks so much for your patience. It’s good to be home.