Another Day in the Country
Our particular melting pot
© Another Day in the Country
In this turbulent political time, with immigration in the headlines, I’m pondering how we all are former immigrants, planting whatever country’s flag that we hailed from on American soil and infusing the culture with whatever traditions we carried in our suitcases.
My grandparents both came from Germany as children, so whenever anyone asked about my ethnicity, I said, “German.” However, my maternal grandmother’s family lived in a portion of that country where the border were often redrawn. Despite speaking German, they ended up in Poland for a time.
Imagine my surprise when what I considered to be a German pastry (kolaches) baked by my grandmother — with the hunger for them passed on to my mother and then to me — turned out to be a Polish delicacy!
It was also surprising to me to discover that my very German Grandma Ehrhardt’s delicious food, rich and laced with cream, was not really German in origin but Dutch!
And then, I grew up and married a first-generation Norwegian, which brought a whole other set of interests into the pot, and we created our half Norwegian, half German daughter.
About the time that she was learning about her heritage, Jana learned about the Holocaust, and she was horrified. So she chose to identify with her Norwegian ancestors.
Even though she knew nothing about the branch of our family that still lived in Norway, Jana dreamed of going to Norway for a year of high school. She carefully saved money from her first job as a waitress, listened to Norwegian language tapes to learn a little of the language, and packed her suitcase. Her father, having never seen Norway or his relatives there, decided to go over with her and get her settled.
Long story short, they came back together. Norway was a very long way away from home and all things familiar. What she brought back from that trip was a fondness for a Norwegian name, which many years later she gave to her son!
To continue our immigration saga, my daughter married a first-generation Korean, which makes my grandson Korean-Norwegian-German, commonly known as American.
Our particular melting pot continues to meld cultures and customs together. We find kimchee and sauerkraut in the same family group.
When my sister and I came back to our family roots in Ramona and opened a bed and breakfast, I invited our Korean relatives to come for a visit.
I envisioned my grandson and his Korean cousins having great fun in that big old house we called Cousin’s Corner — jumping on beds and running up and down the staircase while we made breakfast in the country kitchen. But it never happened.
In fact, I gave up on that dream — partly because we sold the house when the B&B idea became unsustainable in Ramona.
Then, when I was in California for my grandson’s birthday, the possibility reoccurred when his aunt, whom he calls “Gomo” (pronounced “komo”), according to Korean custom, suggested that maybe his cousin (who’s a year older) could come with him to visit Ramona this summer.
“Does the invitation still stand?” Gomo wanted to know.
“Of course, it does!” I said excitedly, and then I began to wonder if these two young boys were brave enough to come from California to Kansas without their parents.
“I want my son to see how another part of the world lives,” Gomo said.
I had to chuckle because their family has traveled to parts of the world I’ll never see — like Korea, for instance — and yet she wanted her child to experience the Heartland right here in the United States of America, with as much to offer as Europe or Scandanavia.
And what do I want them to see of country life? How is a day different in Kansas from a typical day in California? What will it be like for these two young boys to come to Ramona — a little town of 100 plus or minus, with sketchy Internet connections, and spend another day in the country?