How to greet a granny in a fog

by | Jul 25, 2014 | Uncategorized | 18 comments

Winter is full of slanting light, that breaks through the chill. In the school holidays, the little one and I  once again take time together.

She is awaiting a visitor from across the sea and across the hemispheres.

Her other granny is immigrating from China.

We play together on the afternoon of the arrival. But the light that has been bathing us gently this week, nudging our awareness into hope of a change of season, has dived under the bed clothes overnight. Without it, there is nothing left but fog, wrapping around the city, thick and damp. The granny’s plane is diverted to Christchurch, and there she waits for five hours as the afternoon ticks by.

 How to greet a granny who has been greeted by fog?
Why, you make cards and prepare gifts.
Here is a pot of stem ginger cookies and some sachets of soy sauce. Rosemary is for remembrance, and this is a day she will always remember, arriving in a new country where she doesn’t speak the language. The little one has been teaching her English: ‘I think I taught her “thank you”‘, she tells me.
The mandarin is a joke that probably won’t translate, but I tell the little one, ‘I’m giving her a mandarin because she speaks Mandarin’, and she chuckles.

Flowers need no translation. I drive the little one to the family home where we gather around the meal table for dinner. The little one, her mother, and her granny chatter away in Mandarin with much excitement, the fog forgotten. My son and I exchange words in English. The little one, sitting between her two grannies, translates when we wish to say something to one another.

Even though winter clings on and the change of season is dragging its heels, life keeps on bringing newness. I wouldn’t want it any other way.


  1. Ruth P

    Oh Juliet, what a beautiful account of anticipation and arrival. I still remember the loneliness of migrating as a family to NZ without any family or home-based welcome. The contrast in this story is very heart-warming, and perhaps one day the little one will come know just how significant a part she has played!

  2. Tricia

    lovely story Juliet!Just lovely 🙂 I especially liked the story of the gifts, and the wonderfulness of the wee one being the bridge between grannies

  3. Anne

    Fascinating, Juliet. The complications of families multiplying…

  4. Penny O'Neill

    From the title of your post to your final words, your post is the epitome of what it means to welcome someone, especially from so far away. What lovely gifts to welcome the little one’s mandarin granny and how sweet that she sat between her two grandmothers, translating. Beautiful moments to have shared, Juliet. Thank you.

  5. Juliet Batten

    Thank you Ruth. You remind me how important a welcome is. I too have an experience of arriving in a foreign land to live for 2 years, and the lack of a welcome.

  6. Juliet Batten

    * Tricia, so glad you enjoyed it. I can see the little one becoming quite a translator.

    *Anne, families are becoming so diverse now. It’s a whole new era, and so interesting.

    * Penny, I’m sure your family knows about arriving in a strange land. I’ve done it too, Now the mandarin granny will be busy learning English, and then we can have conversations.

    Thank you Tricia, Anne, Penny and Ruth. I love your comments.

  7. Vicki Lane

    How exciting this is! I look forward to hearing that you are learning some Mandarin.

  8. Juliet Batten

    Vicki, I’m doing my best, but then I forget the words! it’s not such an easy language. But my granddaughter will keep teaching me.

  9. Hotly Spiced

    My mother has three grandchildren who are also fluent in Mandarin. When one of them was about three, she said to my mother, ‘I’ll teach you to speak Mandarin’. And off she rattled at a hundred miles an hour thinking if my mother heard it once, she’d be totally fluent. The picture of your granddaughter in the tree reminds me of ‘The Piano’ xx

  10. Juliet Batten

    Charlie, that’s so interesting. A young one has no concept of how many repetitions we need to learn a language later in life. They are like sponges and learn so easily. Good to hear from you. I’m away on retreat so can’t use the computer for long, but look forward to catching up with your adventures when I get home.

  11. silkannthreades

    What a lovely welcome! I hope that Granny from afar loves her new life in New Zealand.

  12. Juliet Batten

    Gallivanta, we’ll see how it goes. She’s visited here before so I think she’s keen to be here.

  13. Nadezda

    I see you spend a nice time with this funny little girl, Juliet! I love the photo where she’s sitting on a branch. waiting…
    Have a wonderful winter days!

  14. Juliet Batten

    Nadezda, I like that photo a lot too. Our winter days are now getting a bit sunnier, which is nice. Thank you for calling.

  15. Juliet Batten

    Linda, it’s warming up a bit now. Nice to think of you having the same spring flowers. Thank you.

  16. Joan

    So special..


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