It was taking longer than expected for the Vzitnixks to acclimatise. Their respiratory systems, in particular, were struggling and, during a home visit, the doctor had advised them to rest at home until their immune systems could adjust. The Vzitnixks were feeling deflated: they had been informed that this was a hospitable planet – well-developed, peaceful, with a mild climate, mellow native species, and stable, sensible governance. They had not expected so much toxicity.
Foliage had been an especially nasty surprise. One of the neighbours had brought over a ficus as a housewarming gift and Sprgle Vzitnixk had had an almost fatal reaction. To their horror, upon opening the back door, the Vzitnixks learned that it was a human custom to cultivate whole clusters of leafed organisms behind their homes. They called it gardening. It was, they were told, relaxing. Yes, humans liked growing green things. But not too much. If the green things grew excessively the humans would chop them down again. They called this pruning. The Vzitnixks called it indecision.
Humans seemed to be undecided about many things. Like light. The Vzitnixks had observed that humans (after all that energy spent erecting walls and roofs for protection) built holes into their houses. Holes which they plugged with a wholly impractical, brittle, transparent material. They called these holes windows and their purpose was to let in the light. But not all the time. Sometimes humans did not like the light and so they would cover their windows with curtains or shutters or (if they did not have much money) old newspaper. But the human quarrel with light did not end there. Having covered the windows, sometimes humans missed the sunlight, so they manufactured a harsh, yellowish kind of imitation of it which they beamed into their rooms through tiny artificial stars that protruded out of ceilings. They called these bulbs (but they were not, apparently, the same kind of bulbs that you plant in the soil). The Vzitnixks were still trying to establish the exact algorithm that determined when to open and close the curtains and when to switch on or off the artificial sunlight. It was all very complicated.