Tuesday, 7 June 2011

home is where the hearth is

My husband moved a lot growing up. For him, home is where the heart is. He's very flexible that way, and even feels a bit stir-crazy if we are too settled. Home is wherever his family is.

I lived in exactly two homes growing up: one farm until age 2, and then the farmhouse where my parents still live. For me, home is where the hearth is. It's the people too, but it's bedsheets fresh from the sun-kissed line and evening red-winged blackbird songs and antique glass doorknobs that sparkle like diamonds and perfectly planted rows of corn and acres that I could get lost in.

Now that I'm all grown up (!) and have kids of my own, I often think about these questions: what is home? What makes a house feel like home? How do you create that sense of home regardless of where you are or how far you've traveled from your childhood home? Because in my mind, home isn't the house we're in right now in suburbia. It works, and it's fine, but it doesn't really feel like home. To me, this is home:

Home is people, a place, a sensory experience, a feeling of welcome and belonging and all-is-right-with-the-world.

I want my kids to know a piece of land and love it like it's their own. And to know that they are deeply connected to these hills, these plants, this wild place.

To shimmy and slide down gravel pit hills, scoop tiny tadpoles from swamps, learn the perfect shade of a ripe raspberry, eat the best tastes of summer right from the earth, watch a blue heron fly overhead, and come home with hands and feet dirty from the warm, fertile earth.

To know the scratchings of deer on bark, the many shades of fungi growing on old trees, raccoon tracks in the mud, smooth brown chestnuts inside prickly shells, to swing so high they can touch the tops of the corn stalks. This is exactly what I want. This is home to me.


  1. Bec - Your blog inspires me and refreshes me. It is a like a big drink of lilac fragranced air for my smog filled lungs. Thank you my friend. God has blessed you with the gift of words and I look forward to spending time with you each post.
    Lisa W

  2. Lisa, Good to hear from you! Thank you for these words of encouragement. Sometimes (like every day I post) I wonder: why am I doing this? Just for me? So I'm over the moon happy if and when it can be helpful to someone else. Thanks for taking the time to tell me!

    By the way, looks like you've got the gift of words yourself! I loved your line about the lilacs vs. smog.

  3. Pamela Phillips8 June 2011 at 13:17

    I read this yesterday, and it made me think how to make our house more of a home. I may not be able to relocate, and move back to the country, but perhaps I can bring some of what I experienced as a child into where we live now. Then I realized something, to my kids, this IS home. The smell of cookies baking, the sound of fire trucks going by, the rumble of the trains at night, the list goes on. Of course, this is just my perspective as an adult, to them it could be something very different. Who knows what they will remember as they get older? As long as where ever we are they feel love.

    And again, I'm really enjoying reading your blog. It's a great way to start my day! Thanks again for sharing.

  4. I think about that too, Pam - what my kids will think of as "home." For her first 2.5 years, our oldest lived on a farm complete with woodlot, farm animals, a pond, a pool, a creek, and several playgrounds (it was also a day camp/outdoor ed centre on the property). When we moved to the suburbs, it broke her heart. It wasn't home. She kept wondering when we would go back home. But my youngest hasn't ever known anything different. I'm thankful for grandparents who have loving, lovely homes for them to visit. I hope that these are included in their view of what "home" is.

  5. Rebecca I love this post. I have moved every 2 years more or less for the last 15 years or more. I also have a need for a place to feel "homey". My last move was into the house my husband owned before when we married. It has taken some time to put some of myself into this house to make it *our* home, as temporary as it may be (I don't believe it is our "forever house"). I love the photo of the bike in the barn/shed and wondered if I could get a copy of it to frame?

  6. That's a pile of moving, Teena! I would be most honoured if you'd use the bike photo. I'll attach it in an email to you. Hopefully I'll see you on Sunday morning!