Monday, April 29, 2013


Perhaps if you are not a first generation immigrant, you wouldn't know this -- but for most of us who came here from an 'old country,' our identification with that 'old country' changes over time. It isn't been static. Or even linear.

Legally speaking, I'm a dual. I am Polish by birth, I am American also, as it turns out, by birth (my mother was born to an American citizen -- it's a complicated story). And except for the days I spend each year in Poland, I am right now closer to feeling American than Polish. I've let my Polish passport and ID card lapse. My Polishness isn't very evident. The farmhouse has little of it on display, for example.

In the last years of my father's life, I'd tease him that he is the most 'Polish' in our family of mixed up identities. He'd grunt and say -- I am a citizen of the world. He was not fond of displays of nationalism.

But the law does not acknowledge citizens of the world. And so, I remain a dual.

And here's a curious detail: in attempting to help my sister tidy up matters pertaining to my father's death, I find out that even if I am a dual, in Poland, I must act as a Pole.

Okay. I'll act as a Pole. Dzien dobry, jak sie masz! I know the vernacular.
No, not enough. I must also provide documentation that I am a Pole.
Say what? I have an expired Polish passport. Will that work?
No! Not enough. I must provide further evidence. Birth certificates. Papers, in Polish, attesting to my past Polishness. And I must present these in person in Chicago, at the Polish Consulate. Then they will deliberate. And determine whether my Polishness survived the years when it lapsed.
Ed grins -- someone is trying to justify staffing a Consulate. Why else require a personal appearance?

Well now, maybe he's right. Let me skip all this silliness. Forget about proving my Polishness! I'll settle matters having to do with my dad as an American!
Nuh uh. Cannot do that. If I'm Polish, I must appear as a Pole.
But I was just told that my lapsed passport puts me in the category of not assuredly Polish! 
That's between me and the Consulate. For purposes of my father's affairs, I am Polish and need to appear as a Pole. With supporting documents. Which I cannot readily get, or at least not without an interview with someone at the Polish Consulate. For a thumbs up or a thumbs down as to my Polishness.

I write all this because I am forever amazed at how unnecessarily complicated life can be in some places. Stay tuned. The subject of my Polishness is going to haunt me all year long as I struggle through other people's definitions of what it means to be Polish.

Otherwise, this Monday is a continuation of the beautiful, springlike week-end days.

Breakfast on the porch.

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Daffodils now officially exploding.

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I do still have to teach and rosie and I set out just as big droplets of rain come down, but we outrun them! I never quite get wet.

And in the early evening...

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(my welcoming committee) 

...the sun almost pokes through. It's warm and lovely and even though it's suppertime, I stay for a while in the yard, digging up weed roots, ripping out bits of old fabric in the soil.

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Ed asks -- what do you most like about gardening? The planting?
I don't have a quick answer. I love working outdoors, but no act -- clearing, planting, tending -- is somehow better, more likable than another.
I like the result! -- I blurt out. And I know this is the closest to the truth. I love perennial beds. I'll go to great lengths to add to them, to support them, to expand them. To create new ones.

The next three weeks are the most intense for any perennial nut here, in Madison. I'm so ready for it!