Years ago when my boys were in high school they had an English teacher who made the class write poetry on the topic “Sense of Place”. He wanted to know what spoke home to them.
They sat there stumped for awhile and I told them to just think about what they heard from their bedroom window, what they saw from that window, what it smelled like when they took a deep breath. (And yes some days it did not smell as fresh as others due to a wind coming from the direction of the huge dairy across the section.) In other words, I told them to use all their senses and write what made home familiar to them.
As I sat on the porch this morning I started thinking about that poem they had to write and started trying out my own advice about what spoke home to me.
I thought back to an hour earlier when I had been picking the tomatoes in the cool of the morning. It was very quiet and a slightly foggy morning at our place. The kind of weather that wraps itself around you with all the everyday noises muted by the blanket of heavy air. It narrowed the world/home down to just me and my garden.
The fact that I got to wander past purple coneflowers and black-eyed susans on my way to the vegetable garden was a bonus for the morning. They even looked pretty surrounded by the weeds and volunteer flowers that decided to grow on their own this past summer.
The birds seemed quieter with their morning songs today. I am not sure if they had not gotten fully awake due to the hazy morning or if they were just easing me gently into the day.
Once I got my batch of pizza sauce started on the stove I could take the time to have my morning cup of tea out on the porch. I started looking around at my view from the front of the house and I came to realize I must be attracted to the shadowed, green, cool areas as my eyes always seem to wander to those places in my yard.
I thought I should use all my senses so I took a whiff and noted that there is starting to be a slight smell of decaying leaves and plants that heralds the arrival of fall. The leaves of the locust trees out front are starting to rain down little yellow leaves whenever the breeze blows through the branches.
In the distance I could hear the neighbor chopping in the field across the river but I was distracted from listening to that as I realized I was having a visit from our Geranium eating squirrel.
My girls were contentedly digging around in the hostas, rhubarb, and along buildings in their unending quest for bugs. The bugs are getting less and less as the days go by; and they are having to work a lot harder to get their fill of them.
I came to the conclusion that home for me is anywhere my husband is. My sense of the place that is my home is made up of everything from chickens to tomatoes to squirrels to the weeds that persist in coming back to torment me every year. It is in the smell from the fields and the flowers. It is in the sounds of birds and equipment and frogs singing at dusk. It is the place where I am free to ramble on and it is okay.
There is a contentment to be found in having a sense of place, in knowing what makes home; home. The contentment that no matter what happens in the world this is still the safe place to come, sit on the porch, sip my tea, and watch what is happening in the cool shady places.
What speaks home to you? What smell, touch, sight or sound brings back that comfort of home?
The ache for home lives in all of us,
the safe place where we can go as we are
and not be questioned.
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