Home Away From Home

Home Away From Home

Every time I go to the ocean or sea I think of where I grew up. Mountains in their majestic reaching for the heavens are beautiful. Forests brimming with greenery and a thick growth of trees are lovely. Sprawling canyons surrounded by arid, desert bloom have a foreign intrigue. But water, rolling and churning as far as the eye can see, makes me think of home.

Some consider that odd since I grew up on the prairie. But I find it necessary every now and then to get somewhere I am able to breathe. When I stand by the water and am able to look until the earth curves, I feel a sense of freedom, a deep breath builds interiorly that needs to be exhaled as all that confines falls away. And though the ocean and sea embody an exotic newness that I’ve never fully explored, they also contain within them a sense of home.

The other day I was driving and spent a long time marveling at how the tall prairie grasses rolled so wave-like under the ever-present prairie wind. The pliant bending of the grasses followed by their rebounding over and over again was simple yet lovely. It made me want to tell my neighbors that the reason I mow so infrequently is because I love our prairie heritage and would love to see the oceanic movements in my own backyard. Instead, I drove on as I gratefully took in the ebb and flow of the grass, resilient and fierce despite the slender bowing.

This need to breathe and to have the space to do so is one of the reasons I couldn’t last long in a big city. As it is, the city I live in causes me to feel slightly suffocated, something I don’t realize until I’m driving into the country and feel myself unconsciously breathing deeper and freer. I thrive on the flat prairie, a gaze that goes on and on with a vastness that yearns to be appreciated.

Continue reading “Home Away From Home”

I Had a Slow Childhood

I Had a Slow Childhood

School was called off for today before I even went to bed last night. It meant that my sister and I leisurely watched a movie and then talked for a while before curling up to fall asleep. This morning, the snow hadn’t started yet so I went out of the house for a couple of hours, returning as the snow began to lie thick on the roads. Ideally, though, I would have been still tucked away in my bed or perhaps snuggled on the couch with a cup of coffee as I turned through my latest book.

In high school, I was surprised when I heard that on snow days kids went to go hang out at the mall. For me, it was an unthinkable action. Why would I go out into the blustery weather when that was the exact reason I wasn’t at school? I also was gifted with a father who would have unquestionably smacked me with a hearty dose of common sense if I would have even asked to drive to town despite the weather. Being at home was actually what I wanted to do anyway. While I liked school, I didn’t mind a day of sleeping in and being home. The same still holds true as an adult.

I grew up slow.

By that, I mean, as I grew up, we moved slowly.

I look at the schedules my students have or the schedules of kids and it looks so different from my youth. In elementary school, I usually rode the bus home and I was there until the next day when I left for school. My mom made supper and we all ate together. Sometimes the older siblings were running off to practice or games, but we almost always ate supper around our dining room table.

My summers were quiet, too. Sometimes we explored the farm or watched too much TV or read book after book. But it was slow, with plenty of time and space for us to play in the hay loft or read through book lists with forty to fifty titles. It wasn’t perfection, although my memory tends to cast an overly rosy hue on the days of my childhood. However, it had the great beauty of not being rushed.

Continue reading “I Had a Slow Childhood”

A Country Heart

I’m fairly convinced that my little heart would shrivel a bit if forced to reside in a major city.  I could do it, mind you, because I’m stubborn and (I like to think) tough.  However, it would be difficult.  Recently I made the move from my beloved parents’ farm to the “big city” of 150,000.  Today, as I sat in traffic caused by a train I had a couple thoughts.

1. It is nice to see these tracks actually being used for a train.  I miss the train tracks that run by my home in the country.
2. Lord, I could never live in a big city for too long.  Or if I did, my heart would ache a bit and feel a little restricted.

I’ve been to big cities–New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Rome, Madrid–but I think it would take a lot to be at home in one.  The novelty would eventually wear off and I wonder if I would just walk around with an extra weight on my shoulders.

Freshman year of college I found myself on the phone with my parents telling them that there were people everywhere.  I went to a school boasting about 2500 students but I felt that wherever I turned there were people.  My room was no longer a quiet sanctuary and I couldn’t think of one place where I could go and be alone.  It was a frightening prospect to an introvert.  Even as I got used to the people that surrounded me, there were a couple times when I wanted to just go be by myself.  Whether it was to have a good cry (and not have to explain why–can’t we just feel like crying sometimes?) or to just let down all of my defenses, I longed for a quiet place of my own.  I was used to being in the country.  My summer days were isolated from the rest of the world with only my sisters, a TV, a stack of books, and the great outdoors to occupy my hours.  In the country, if you want to be alone you have so many options to choose from.  You can even walk down a road and not encounter any people for quite a while.  It was a haven from the rest of the world and I loved it.

Now I find myself driving home most weekends and relishing the sight of stores fading away, houses fading away, and finally paved roads fading away.  Then I will turn off my car and hear…nothing.  The beautiful sound of silence that is deep and hearty.  I can go to my favorite window in the house and gaze down at the surrounding countryside.  The creek that forms a frozen bridge to the pastureland and a sprinkling of trees that provide refuge for the wildlife.  If you ignore the lone white house on the hill and the power lines, you could feel like you are all alone for miles and miles.  That, my friend, is a very good feeling.

I’m a country girl at heart.  My soul is rooted in simplicity and silence.  The concrete jungle isn’t really my thing and house after house isn’t the landscape I long for.  All of this leads me to conclude (obviously) that Heaven, while being a great communion, must also be filled with deep silence and that beautiful feeling of being alone.  I’m not quite sure how it works, but I look forward to finding out.