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  • Writer's pictureMonique Sliedrecht

Dreich in Durham

Dreich is a word I came to know very soon after arriving in Scotland for the first time. It’s a very descriptive word - fitting for what is a natural occurrence/pattern in Scottish weather - and like a good Dutch speaker, it can be milked for all it’s worth in the ‘ch’ bit of that word.

I’m in Durham, England now, and I would say that it has been rather ‘dreich’ so far this American Thanksgiving weekend. However, aside from dampening my shoes and socks (time to get some new boots!), it has not dampened my days whilst here.

On my arrival Thursday evening, I joined the two current art fellows at St. John’s, both Americans and friends, for a lovely, humble Thanksgiving dinner: Sweet potato gnocchi made from scratch with salad and good wine. It was a happy and simple evening with battery powered candles and good atmosphere. It was a little hard for them, being so far away from family on such a ‘big’ day in the U.S., but they managed it with amazing good grace and generosity. We had a great time!

On Friday I had the privilege of seeing an exhibition in Sunderland, and then joining a fellow artist in a recording studio, and helping with a sound piece she had made. The piece is based on breath and breathing - reflective of the gratefulness and appreciation of life and living that comes through such simple rhythms.

And today, after catching up with a good friend, I am just about to head to another Thanksgiving meal hosted by new and not yet known American friends. That will be a genuine full-fledged affair and I’m leaving myself space to be filled up when I get there.

All this after receiving a diagnosis that, while not entirely what I hoped for, is manageable in light of what happened en route to Canada in the summer - something that literally stopped me in my tracks. (Again, more on that soon.)

While being a Canadian, I’m happy to be connecting with American friends to mark this weekend, and can say that I am grateful for the simple rhythms of grace, breath and free-flowing creativity.

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