Common ground: Sprouting a new American gardener

What I probably miss most living in rural America is the exposure to other cultures. I never regretted having moved for love from bustling New York City with its multitude of ethnicities to a tiny hamlet in a county with a highly homogenous population. I did many things on our mountaintop that I would have never done in an urban setting – first and foremost, I became a gardener. But that does not mean that I ever stopped missing the diversity I was seeking when I emigrated to America: people who, like me, came from another country, and with their background and traditions contribute to the rich cultural fabric of America. Continue reading

Taking stock, twenty years after immigration

On January 5, 1998, I landed in New York City with an immigration visa that I won in the Green Card Lottery. The previous summer, I had received a letter in the mail notifying me that I was one of 55,000 lucky people whose number was drawn in the Green Card Lottery from more than eight million participants. Winning, however, was only the first, easy step. What followed was a thorough and costly screening process to make sure that I was who I claimed to be, without a criminal record, in good health and able to support myself for a few months in the United States without working. I have often wondered how Green Card winners less fortunate than me made it through that process. Continue reading

As American as apple pie?

In the past few months I have thought a lot about the expression, “as American as apple pie.” Whether I was tossing and turning in bed during many sleepless nights, driving past homes with the American flag and an occasional Confederate flag, whether I was standing at the stove until late at night canning and preserving the harvest from my garden, or angrily digging up the soil and pulling weeds until I almost dropped in an attempt to vent and get away from too much news intake – it all seemed to be boiling down to one question: What is American? Continue reading