The first harvest is mostly in for my part of the world, in Suffolk, East Anglia. There are still a few fields of wheat or barley that are waiting either for the rental of the combine harvester to come through or for a clear, sunny day when it can be gathered in dry. It’s been a good year so far for all the crops, and it beckons me to see what the first of the harvests gathered is like within my own life, and how I can work with that for the rest of the harvest tide.
My new book came out on Lammas here in the UK, which I think is an auspicious time. I’ve had really good feedback so far, and it’s a work that I am very proud of; it’s my best book yet. But thoughts are now turning once again to the simpler things, the quiet things, time out of the limelight. Even as the nights begin to draw in, and the leaves lose their green vibrancy settling into dark shades and some even beginning to turn in their autumnal splendour, I think of the coming months and the safety, security and sanctuary that is home.
For me, my home has always been split between two continents. My family home in Canada, and my adopted home here in the UK. I love both landscapes; I love the history and the spirits of place. While politically the UK seems to be going down the rabbit hole while Canada is holding its own with integrity, still it’s the land that I keep coming back to. My own little patch, where I live and work and love and play is so very important to me, and has always been. It’s been instilled in me, from a young age from my wonderful parents, just how much a home can take care of you, if you take care of it. We never had much money growing up, but it was the little things that made home so very special. Making home a safe space, a space where you could grow but still retreat when needed, a place to find companionship and also experience the solace of being alone. The vibrancy and comradery of the dining table in full swing, or the quiet solitary walks through the woods. It was all good.
My home here in the UK is a haven of quiet, peace and often solitude, working as I do from home with my two cats for company. We have lovely neighbours all around us, and this time of year I will often answer the door to find fruit and veg presented and offered in friendship, which I gladly receive! Zero food miles, for starters, and there is nothing like eating a meal with food that fresh. In return I offer the bounty of my garden: apples as well as seedlings from the many and varied plants (and my latest book, for those who are interested). It’s got a feel of a small community; we look out for each other, and we’ve got each others’ backs. My neighbours bring in my dustbins when they do their own, and I’ll do the same if I’m the first out there. It’s a feeling of togetherness, which is something that I’ve never really had elsewhere. Perhaps it’s living in the countryside that does it – or maybe it’s just luck of the draw when it comes to your neighbours.
But the home is all important. Keeping it looking and feeling lovely, maintaining that balance between tidy and relaxed. I love my home and have always made anywhere I live a home. Surrounding myself with the things I love, as well as the gifts from others who remind me of the deep bonds of friendship. I’m so grateful to my parents for having instilled in me this sense of the home being a sanctuary, and that has allowed to me to live thousands of miles away for the last twenty years in relative peace (while still missing them incredibly).
Soon, I will be flying back home for a visit, as it’s been over a year since I’ve been back. I’ve calculated this into my carbon allowance for the year. I Skype with my mother and father every week, and occasionally if she’s online my sister will join in. It’s lovely to be able to see their faces through the miracle of technology, and it’s even better that the computer they use is in my old bedroom. I really feel like I’m back home when I get to talk to my mom this way, and it gives me a sense of connection even when the miles are so numerous between us. But there’s nothing like actually physically being there, enjoying the sights and smells and engaging all the senses in the concept of home, as well as the memories. Just sitting at the kitchen table, having a cup of tea with my mom makes me smile with warmth and anticipation. Watching my young nephew run around, or listening to his older sibling play guitar. Cycling with my sister, going to my brother’s cabin. Reminiscing and walking through all the memories, and letting the future take care of itself. Swimming in the lake, having a beer outside in the evening. It’s the little things that matter.
And so, as I ponder the rest of the harvest, I wish you all a wonderful harvest tide. May you enjoy it with those you love, and may the peace and sanctuary of home be with you in your hearts, even if you have to create that anew. Find that place, and let it settle in your soul. It’s the perfect spot to reflect and plan for many future harvests to come.
Ah Joanna…lovely words but bitter sweet to me at the moment. Just over a week ago, my wife and I left our little bungalow and garden on the east coast of Yorkshire to move to a first-floor flat for the over 60s further up the north sea coast to be nearer to two of our children and our grandchildren.
I know that this will be a blessing to us as we will inevitably need some help as our years advance, health issues was the logical reason for the move…..but….at the level of the emotions I feel lost and sad right now. Though the garden was becoming hard work for me, I miss the smell of fresh-mown grass, my wife’s herbs and the figs from my own bush, and lots of other things and people as well. I could lie and bed with the curtains open and see the trees and clouds, here I see a wall!
And yet, we are where we are now….we have brought memories with us and we have unpacked those special things that were small enough to keep and they stand on our unit on the sitting-room wall; within 5 mins walk we can be at the seafront one way and some gardens the other way and we have better public transport and access to healthcare. It is going to be a challenge to make this place a home, but we will do our best.
My druid practice has taught me the value of looking within to find that special interior place of peace….I hope that from that place I can find my physical home.
Please hold us in your thoughts….it hurts just now.
Oh, bless you John, I know how that is. I’ve been there, having had at various times in my life to move to a city, where I was surrounded by concrete and so many, many people. But with the seafront so close, and the amenities that you need, I’m sure that you can make a home of it. And yes, that special place is in our hearts, which we can take with us wherever we are. A little love for the new place, a little hygge and care, and it will become a home. Lots of love to you both. xoxo
Beautifully expressed. I have just returned from visiting my family in Scotland. I have lived in Australia for 28 years and try to get home at least every three years. I have made a life here and love it but there is something special about going back to where I spent most of my life. My youngest sister owns the house I grew up in and has photos of my parents and our family around the place. I sleep in the bedroom that was once my father’s. It is where my sister and her husband brought up their family but when I am there, I feel the connection to my parents and the love and caring that surrounded us.
I use Skype at least four times a week to keep in touch with my sisters and see their smiling faces, but being there with them is special. There is always a tugging of my heart when it is time to leave. When I return to Australia and I am again with my husband and our cat, Tigger, that also feels like home. I am fortunate indeed to have both.
When anyone asks me where I come from, I still say Scotland. It is the home of my ancestors.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how when we’re at our ancestral home, we instantly feel “at home’ even though our real home is someplace very different. Maybe home is a feeling, rather than a place? Or a combination of both?