“. . .I find that my home is my church.
and my heaven,
a chair by the hearth.
In the dearness of it,
I find the sacred at work.
In partaking of it
—belonging to it—
my heart swells
with a joy not to be conveyed.”
~ L. M. Browning (from My Religion is New England)
Talking to the guy sampling alkaline water in the market, he mentions his friend opened a store in Asheville where I lived for 15 years before moving to Florida. I know that store, I say. Seeing the front desk, the wall of clothing, the cafe in my mind’s eye. It used to be the old Alfalfa’s, I say. And catch myself. The store I envision is in Santa Fe, not Asheville. Santa Fe, where I first saw the Milky Way. Held a hawk on my arm. Felt earth, sky, vistas, and dirt like my own blood, kindling a comfort in my skin I’d never felt before. The place and I so aligned, a friend once remarked ‘Santa Fe loves you.’
Home has been up for me for a very long while. I wrote about it here, here, and here. I think how we miss things in a place. As much as I wanted out of Jacksonville, a city difficult on so many levels for me, I miss the taste of burgers from Harpoon Louie’s. Just right, med-rare without being runny red. The perfect grilled flavor, buns the perfect size & sweetness. I miss the real Belgium chocolate ganache frosting made by a gal with Italian blood who stirs and reduces it, lets it set for hours. So rich she sees people scrape it off. My love so appreciated she always scrolled an extra layer on my cupcake. But I don’t miss the mile-broad river I know saved me those 2 yrs. The sight and sound of dolphins there. The rhythms of pelicans and other seabirds I tracked and noted. The sky canyons on the water’s surface. Foggy mornings that looked like an impressionist painting out my windows. They were of that place, a salve, a memory, not like a taste on my tongue. Or feeling in my bones.
The other morning I heard my husband whisper ‘sky watcher’ as I looked over the rooftops. The trees whipped, so I knew a strong wind blew at the bay. Gotta get in a car to see it, I said. And I did something I’ve not done since we moved in January. I pulled a housedress over my jammies, stepped out into the middle of the street, rocked my head back. Watched the clouds spread in a pattern like leopard spots on the rich blue wall of the sky. Walked to the corner, looked down to the warm rose & peach blush that says Sun Rises Here. The sky and birds, the color reflected on water my saviors in this place.
A friend asked why I’ve been so stressed. I gave her a short version of the big reasons. Stunned, she said, ‘you did not show it.’ I can hold both, I told her. The difficult, and the good of connection with new people, places, and sights. Can understand how this that feels so hard is important. Because I found what I needed to move forward in it. Isn’t that really the dance of life for so many of us lucky ones?
Today a beautiful adolescent black snake stretched along the low ground cover close to our door. It’s head lifted above the greenery, tongue tasting air. I delighted in how quickly it arched and dived to disappear under shelter as I stepped out. I have family members who warn of evil hearts in snakes, venomous or not, but I see them as signs, like the woman in my novel does. That snake today made me think how something big has happened in my life every time I saw a black snake. Only once a bad omen. With my husband and I both at a crossroads on several fronts of work and life, I choose to think today’s a good omen.
What I know. . .the page has already turned. Tho I don’t know how it reads, yet, I see the destination. The place looks like the two photos on this page. Mountains. Nature that consumes more of my sight than roads and buildings. Greets me without my trying. Is the source of the only sounds breaking silence. Places where my heart swells. I feel expansive, connected. And the work’s created in the sacredness of it. I’m very happy about that.
What calls to a place have you heard?
“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
~ James Baldwin (Giovanni’s Room)
Another small journey. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life
A secret: Faith, intuition, and gratitude have pulled me from the floor more than once.
A favorite: Appalachian springtime. New Mexico fall.
New Mexico – unknown
Blue Ridge – Kathryn Magendie