Tuesday, August 27, 2013

P-P-P Pick up a Penguin!

I feel like a Penguin. Not the chocolate sort, although I do like them and haven’t had one in a very long time. I feel like I imagine a penguin would feel if they found themselves in the Arctic Circle. Looks the same as the Antarctic, but there are no penguins there. They’d be very much isolated and alone. I feel like a lost penguin!

I didn’t know until I moved to Sweden that there are no penguins in the north and there are no polar bears in the south. All those nature programmes I watched wondering why polar bears went hungry with massive colonies of penguins to snack on, and now I know. They are opposite ends of the world. Polar bears and Penguins are literally poles apart. I find this utterly fascinating. Why, in whatever ice ages that have occurred, did polar bears not journey south? They can after all, travel 100’s of miles. Why didn’t penguins waddle north? What would happen if they ever met? A polar bear and a penguin? Maybe they would be the very best of friends. Maybe it would be a tragic end for the poor penguin. Maybe the Polar bear would yearn for more penguins having had the luxury of one.

When I arrived in Sweden it looked familiar. Geographically it looks similar to North Carolina. The University city of Uppsala is distinctly European and familiar. The weather in the summer can be very British. Unlike living in the USA, I can get most British foodstuff and get a cup of English breakfast tea in most cafes here in Sweden. Almost everyone speaks good English. I’m only a couple of hours from ‘home’ and virtually in the same time zone. And yet, I feel like a lost Penguin. I felt that moving continents was like a penguin going north. Displaced! On route to Sweden, in England, I purchased a small plastic penguin. I always have it with me. Like I need a reminder of my displacement!

The house we live in, in Sweden was initially fully furnished, until our container ship arrived from America. Bizarrely, hanging on the wall in the house was a large print of a colour pencil drawing of two penguins surrounded by snow. I wasn’t sure if it was symbolic. Should it make me feel at home or remind me that I’m not? When our furniture finally arrived after nine weeks, the house was cleared to make way for our things. I kept the penguin print.

Recently we went to Orsa Bjornpark (ranked No. 1 of 1 attraction in Orsa, Sweden, on Tripadvisor!). We had to journey north, a good 3 or so hour drive away. The bear park boasts the world’s biggest Polar bear facility! I would have thought that was Canada! Strangely, given how bloody cold it gets in the winter and that northern Sweden is in the Arctic Circle, there are no native Polar bears in Sweden. The nearest they get is a 1000 miles from Stockholm, in Norway. I wonder why they don’t stroll across to Swedish Lapland. There were two Polar bears at the bear park. Like me, they were a long way from home. They might have been in the right hemisphere but may as well have been on a different planet.

In the last two weeks my life has been put in a blender and whizzed up. It’s left a gooey grim mess.  I am faced with my 5th major move in four years. It no longer feels like an intrepid adventure. Even though I will going home, I feel like a penguin in the wrong hemisphere. Lost! There is a delightful story about a job picking up penguins when they fall over. The story goes that during the Falkland’s war the Penguins would watch planes and helicopters fly overhead and topple over. Someone picked them up. This story is probably untrue but I like the idea of a penguin picker-upper. 
I feel like a toppled over penguin and I don’t have a penguin picker-upper.


  1. I want to give a lost penguin a great big hug

  2. Jane.... that is a very emotional blog entry.... You have written some good uns but that is probably the most revealing of all. You are only human and what you describe is totally understandable. x

  3. I would make a cup of that tea you mentioned, get a big pack of chocolate penguins that you also mentioned, then sit back and relax and scoff the lot while you remember the good parts of your adventure x