In celebration of Tsh Oxenreider’s (The Art of Simple) release of her new book At Home in the World she is asking readers to share their special places that they would define as their “At Home in the World” so here is my contribution:
Many places around the world have a piece of my heart – places where I feel less like a visitor and more like it is a part of me- my home away from home. Whether it’s star gazing in Alaska, sharing a meal with friends in Spain, picnicking at the Eiffel Tower in Paris or hearing the call to prayer in Morocco. I could go on and on about experiences, sounds and sensations around the world that feel like home to me.
But, when I think of the one place that truly defines my home in the world, I think of our family farm in East Tennessee. My parents purchased a piece of land outside of Dayton, Tennessee on the plateau when I was in high school – about an hour and a half from Knoxville where I grew up. There was an old barn on the property that we would drive up to and camp on the weekends. Later, my parent’s built a cabin on the property…and again later, a second cabin for their growing family and frequent guests.
These days, the farm holds so much of me – it is where my husband and I got married nearly 14 years ago – outside, after a rainstorm among the blooming wildflowers. It is where my dad’s, my sister’s and my maternal grandmother’s ashes rest in a spot where we plant flowers and quietly enjoy views of the cabin. It is also the place where we go for family celebrations and holidays. It is where my children learned to walk in the grassy fields and build fairy houses and swim in the pond. Where they learned to fish, catch tadpoles, roast a perfect s’more and identify the difference between a white and a red Oak. It is where my mom, my husband and my siblings gather to cook exquisite family meals – everyone bustling through the kitchen kneading bread or brining turkey, mashing potatoes or stirring the perfect roux – and then after devouring dinner, we all sit together on the porch sipping wine…or whiskey… or gin & tonics. It is where my mom works in her garden and grows the most delicious potatoes and strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes – and finds healing and stillness amidst the nearly 6-year absence of my dad. It is the place that reminds me most of him for he loved it most of all.
On a sunny day, we often drag my mom’s vintage quilts into the yard and sit under the huge pine tree – me and my girls and anyone else who meanders over – reading or turning cartwheels, running back and forth from the tire swing or napping after a swim in the pond. And then as the sun sets, we build bonfires, catch fireflies, rock on the porch and listen to kids squeal with glee at everything and also nothing at all.
It is my heaven, my family, my refuge – my home in the world.