As much as I love visiting Denver, there's no place like home. Sweet home, Alabama. (Could she be any more trite?) Trite but true. There's that little surge of sugar-laced adrenaline that fills me when I get home to my house in the country. There's just something about coming home.
After Labor Day weekend at the beach, I accompanied my granddaughter Myra and her parents back to their home in Orlando. A six-hour car trip took ten with all the Myra-stops, but that was to be expected. When weary nine-month-old Myra was finally carried into her house, into her room, she started grinning and squealing like a slide-whistle as she looked all around. It was as if she was saying, "Hello, bed! I'm home! Oh, hello mirror! Oh, Horsie and Lamb, hello! I'm home, I'm home!"
It made me think of summers as a kid in New York City, when my family would take off in our household-packed Chevrolet to the bungalow colony in the Catskills where we spent the hottest months. Jewish families from all over the city were regulars at these places. The moms and kids would stay all summer, and the dads would come up on weekends. I know it's where I got my taste for country living.
After Labor Day, we would pack everything up, tearfully say good-bye to our summer friends, and shlep back to the city. As my dad pulled the car up in front of our apartment building, the four of us would say, together, "And here....we....ARE!" The final sound of our little chant would be accompanied by the sound of the car engine turning off. While Dad started to unload, my mother and sister and I would carry a few things up to the apartment. Mom would unlock the big Yale deadbolt and as the door opened, we would be hit with the airless heat of a top floor apartment sitting right under the steaming tar of the roof. Mom would rush around opening windows, and I would greedily breathe in the heavy, still air smelling of woolen carpet and furniture polish. I'm home! I'm home!
Coming home to Alabama is not so much about my house, although I love my house. My "I'm home!" moment came when I walked around the yard, visiting the special places that make up my enchanted garden. there's the "Three Sisters" -- a tree that fell in Hurricane Ivan and whose limbs sprouted up into three new trees not grounded in the earth but connected only to the horizontal trunk. The giant spread of roots that rose out of the ground is a backdrop for a place where I love to sit. The trunk is my balance beam and my barre.
Then there's the Viney Wood -- a little, hidden wood filled with curling vines that we're cultivating into a place where I plan to sit with my grandchildren, telling them stories and challenging them to find the secret treasure in the wood. You won't get it out of me, so don't ask.
The Pyracantha bush which has been here as long as we have, has come into its own this year. Twelve feet tall with huge graceful branches heavy with bright berries, she's the queen of the garden right now.
And the little cedar tree that sprang up in the volunteer garden that evolved behind the back deck is almost ready for her close-up. My husband turned over that earth right after my father passed away, with the thought of making a memorial garden. Dealing at the same time with our son's surgery following a car accident, we never planted anything. Things just started to grow there, and over the last few years we weeded and supplemented until the memorial garden we envisioned took shape without our even noticing. Today, a perfect little cedar stand at the front of the garden. It will probably have to move to another spot where it can grow unhindered, but this year it will be a Christmas tree for Myra, right where it stands.
I'm home! I'm home!