Wednesday, May 4, 2011

This Is What Home Is

I can never decide which time of the day the light is most beautiful in my yard.

I love my yard. I love my house.

After seven years here, I still can't believe my good fortune in being able to keep house and home in a place that gives me such contentment. I have always been one of those people who when they tour an old home open to the public, wants desperately to chase everyone else out and claim it for my own. To make up the beds and bring food into the kitchen, to set the table and see what it feels like to sit in each and every room, to see the view from the porches at morning and at night, to fall asleep in the bed, to wake up in it.
Not the grand palace homes which are museums now, but the small homes. They are the ones that call to me. Like the house at Cross Creek, the house where Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings lived and where she wrote The Yearling, as well as tended a grove and made a garden and put up food and entertained the great and mighty.

Look slightly familiar?

I remember as a little girl, traveling from our house in suburban Chattanooga to my father's parent's huge house on Lookout Mountain. I haven't much memory of that big house, a few images of large, high-ceilinged rooms, of a grand piano where my merry little round grandfather played songs for me. Of a maid in a uniform greeting us at the door saying, "Ms. Gibby! Ms. Gibby! It so good to see you!"

What I have a better memory of are the houses we passed on our way to that big one- the small cabins tucked into the side of the mountain woods, close to the winding roads, with porches where old couples sat in rocking chairs, looking out onto the day, where industrial-sized tomato cans held blooming geraniums.
Something in me even then longed for such a place to call my own.
Snug and wooden, with smoke coming out of a chimney like a child's own version of a house, with flowers blooming in every color to be found in the pack of Crayons.

And now I live in a house a bit like that. Somewhat grander, but not so much. The porches are certainly here and the flowers in pots, terra cotta rather than tomato cans but still.

I joke about how I don't know if I'm agoraphobic or just really love my house. And it's not that I don't enjoy myself when I go away from it. I do. Usually. But after a time, I find myself leaning like a plant towards the light in the direction of home and that's where I want to be. I pull into Lloyd with its massive oaks and quiet streets and I feel as if I am letting my breath out fully for the first time since I left.
And then I'm home and I look up to see the lines of this old house and see all my trees and my plants and Elvis and the hens are scratching in the dirt and the dogs rush out the back door to meet me at the fence and Buster and Zeke bark and Dolly sings her soprano greeting and Pearl snuffles quietly and all is well again.
All is well again.

Hush, dogs, hush, I say and I take off shoes and watch and bra and change into real clothes, soft as only old clothes can be and I'm home, I'm home.
Water plants and check for eggs and talk to the chickens and see what's happening in the garden and do a little lazy one-handed weeding, my feet claiming my space again.

In the morning the light is like this when I wake up and as the day passes it is like that and in the evening it is another way and the birds fuss at the feeder and the dogs settle themselves back down again and soon Mr. Moon comes home and I start supper and the squirrels shake the branches and flick their tails as they race up and down the trees and fence line and the jasmine blooms and the sun sinks lower and different leaves are turned to glowing emeralds and one of the dogs walks out back, his feet rattling the drying magnolia leaves on the ground and here I am.

Here I am.

The earth turns so fast but when I am here, I have a firm place of stillness on which to balance although the changing light can make me dizzy as can the jasmine, the magnolias, the tea olive, the butterfly ginger, the dirt's accepting of the water we give it, the sight of three eggs in a nest, two blue and one pale ivory.

Dizzy but not falling, my feet know this ground where for seven years now I have been planted, my roots growing deeper every day, keeping me from being flung into space, keeping my soul fed and my heart quiet in the knowledge that I am home. I am home. I am home again. Or maybe, just maybe, genuinely and truly for the first time in my life.


  1. I can relate to this so well. The feeling of home and the sigh that happens in my soul when I get there.

    I had been looking at a house. One with another bedroom and a pool in the backyard. I was tempted by the idea of less dirt and weeds. But I would regret leaving my place. I know I would. Not to mention how special it is for me to have my parents next door (and my kids having their grandparents).

  2. I relate on the waking up in a house and watching the sun rise from a porch and watching the sun set and sitting in each room. The only thing I'd add to that part is seeing all four seasons from the house. There is something about each season in a new house that you love.

  3. This is so beautifully expressed, the peace it imparts is so complete. Thank you.

  4. Yes, I'll ditto Angella -- it's so peaceful and wise and homey --

  5. I have lived in a condo my entire adult life and have never liked it. At times I have hated it. I do not like coming home. My fiancé and I just bought a house tgether. A home with a huge back yard that boarders on a provincial park that can never be cut down. We are going to have 2 chickens and a vegetable garden. I can't wait!

    You wrote a beautiful post describing your home. You could submit it to a Home and Garden magazine. Lovely writing.

  6. "I've Had Dreams Like That"

    ---last night, in fact---

  7. Yes, home to me is special as well. I am glad to live where I do. Beauty is everywhere.

  8. Stephanie- Home is not a house. So very true.

    Rebecca- I am very cognizant of that, too. Thank you for adding that.

    Angella- It's what I feel. I am so blessed.

    Elizabeth- It's homey, all right!

    Birdie- I am so glad you're going to have a HOME! Two chickens and a garden sound perfect.

    x-ray Iris- Ah. Me too.

    Syd- We live in such similar places. Aren't we the lucky ones?

  9. I would say for the first time.

    And that you are starting to believe it true ,deep down in your bones.
    Seeing it how Owen does and knowing it. A miracle and a truth.

    I have missed you.

  10. I haven't known home like that in a long time, and I'm not sure that I will. But man, that was a good dream i had. So glad you found it.

  11. so beautiful, sister moon. so,so,so beautiful.

  12. It's a wonderful thing to have a real home that you can find so much comfort in.
    This makes me think of my grandfather's house...the home I grew up in. It's no longer there but on occasion I still get homesick for that place.

  13. Beautifully put, Mary. I can't add a thing except to say, I'm with you all the way.

    It takes a gun to my head anymore to make me put on a bra and leave my house, and. when I come back to it after being gone just a short while, it is like a stretched rubber band pulling me back, triple time. Boing.

    How grand have a home one loves so much.

  14. This is beautiful, Mary.

    I am so glad you have your place in this big scary world.

    Love you,


  15. My goodness this is incredible. I hope I'm not overstepping my little line in the blog-comment dirt but would you mind to share this piece in an upcoming issue of my literary magazine? It's exactly what we're looking for. Seriously.

    The info is here:

    The next issue's theme is "For Real" - and this is just so vivid and beautiful. You can email me (

    xoxo to you, lady. I love your writing....

  16. I believe it's you and the love you exude that make your house a home. Whenever I read your writing about your house, a deep nostalgia takes a hold of me, and I miss my childhood summers at my tante's (aunt's) home in her mountain village, so powerfully it hurts.

  17. Ohhh, Mary. What a wonderful post. I love your house too and you write about it beautifully.

    I'm with you and Lo, I feel exactly about mine. I just love it so much. I feel like I have mild agoraphobia too!

    Love you xx

  18. I've not been here for so long . . . Many reasons, But as I got into bed just now, feeling a little unsettled, I wanted to read something calming and beautiful . . Boy did I came to the right place! Like coming home . . . Thankyou I can sleep now. Goodnight xx


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