Sunday, February 7, 2010

A matter of place

Just before Christmas, I saw an old friend from my childhood neighbourhood. She was in town for her mother's funeral. The last time we had connected, we were wrinkle- and worry-free teenagers. It seemed a lifetime had slipped by. As we shared highlights of the passing years, I mentioned how nice it would be to get together in a happier time. When would she be coming home again?

Her face fell. She didn't think she had a reason to come back, now that she had no family remaining here. She felt a little adrift, she said. Like she no longer had a home.


Her comments stirred a chord with me as I am an only child.

What will I be feeling when my parents are gone? Will this still be home? Or will a thread be broken? Will an unravelling begin?

I think the reason I enjoyed a The Good Earth so much is that it spoke to the part of me that has been exploring the idea of our connection to landscapes. Perhaps there is a part of me instinctively striving to find a firmer foundation, knowing that as the years pass, my family ties become more fragile and tenuous.

I am comfortable in my world beside the Bay of Fundy, like it whispers in a familiar voice from some time before my living memory and experience. I walk the forests unafraid, trace the coastline with curiosity, and feel a strange sense of pride - almost like ownership -when I discover something new and wondrous. I feel protective.


In the biographical book I just finished writing, a young Mary found herself alone, separated from family, home and possessions during the war. She survived, finding strength, solace and continuity in the natural world. So perhaps my interest is no coincidence...Perhaps her story is teaching me to do the same.

15 comments:

Rufusandco said...

Loved reading your thoughts. So true. Ingrid (unraveller)

Natural Moments said...

This is a good point for everyone to consider. When we associate our home outside of ourselves, then we experience pain when that home is no longer accessible to us. However, when we learn to operate and view life from the inside outwards where we are living from our dream and manifesting it for the world to benefit from, then we certainly carry our homes in our hearts no matter where we go in the external world.

Deborah Carr said...

Well said, Natural Moments, from someone who, I suspect, knows that deep wisdom can be uncovered in slow, long treks, when all we really need is carried on our backs.

michelle said...

i'm an only child too...with no connection to my family. trying to define and establish concepts like home & family have always been a little foreign, scary even at times. i've travelled much, moved often and felt rootless. i do find much solace in particular landscapes...the rocky,hilly, tree-filled type. love this exploration of our connection to place.

Shayla said...

Thank you for covering the theme of landscapes and the meaning of home. It's one of my favorites. When I feel a special claim on a landscape, it feels like the pysical and spiritual meet. Still, I agree that the truesest home is the one inside of us.

Nancy J. Bond said...

Your writing is so beautiful and stirring. I, too, am an only child, (as is my hubby) and have had the very same thoughts. We are kindred spirits, Deborah. :)

Donald said...

Home is where we belong. I believe that we belong when we know who we truly are and follow that wisdom. It's not linked to a place. It's in the heart where all the love we've ever felt resides.
Lovely blog. I will be back. I found you through Jan Lynne Lundy
Maryse (using -it seems- hubby's Google account)
Piece on going home http://bit.ly/aK6Mqr
if you have a chance. :)

Laura Hegfield said...

such a beautiful post. On two of my friends' mother's passed away recently and another friend's mom is very near death. Both of my parents are still living and I am keenly aware that everything and every one is in a constant state of transition. It is a wonderful safe feeling to have a sense of being anchored to "place" perhaps safer than being anchored to people? I love where I live in New England, the trees and boulders feel like friends too. And yet I do miss the place of my birth, where most of my family still lives. But the land there, does not speak to my soul in the same way. Anyway. You have added to this dense soup of thoughts for me to ponder. Thank you.

One Woman's Journey said...

This post spoke deeply to my heart.
I am the matriarh of my family. Within the last 10 years - grandparents, parents, sister and a special aunt have all passed away. I have children and grandchildren and have moved back to my much loved country property. Built a home surrounded by woods. I am alone yet not alone, surrounded by nature. These over hundred year old scarred trees speak to me. I am at peace and that is what matters.

One Woman's Journey said...

This post spoke deeply to my heart.
I am the matriarh of my family. Within the last 10 years - grandparents, parents, sister and a special aunt have all passed away. I have children and grandchildren and have moved back to my much loved country property. Built a home surrounded by woods. I am alone yet not alone, surrounded by nature. These over hundred year old scarred trees speak to me. I am at peace and that is what matters.

kendalee said...

Great, thought-provoking post. I'm with Natural Moments on this - I try to carry home in my heart. And when I'm out in nature I do feel more connected to myself and to all those I care for, whether they're still alive or not.

hometown girl said...

beautiful....thank you for sharing your heartfelt thoughts and for visiting my humble blog. i hope you have a lovely weekend! susan

Relyn said...

Here it is Valentine's Day and I had to stop by and wish you a great one. A wish from me:

On this day, may you know, really know how much you are loved. May you recognize love in all it's forms. May you be grateful for the love of children and pets, old friendships and new. May your heart swell with all the beauty this life brings. Happy Valentine's Day, my friend.

Victoria Cummings said...

Deborah - I am also an only child, and with my 95 year old mother fading and growing more fragile every day, I think more often about the kind of things you mention here. I no longer go back to the place where I grew up, mostly because I never felt any attachment to it. Now, I live in a place that feels really magical to me, and I hope that I will be able to stay here and pass along this property to my daughter and eventually, in many more years, to her children. I think that if we are lucky, we are able to find the spot in the world that connects us to the earth and sink our roots into it. I envy people who feel that way about homes that have been in their families for many generations and I hope that we will be able to start that chain of connection to the land in our family. I can understand your love for where you live and for the Bay of Fundy. It's so beautiful. While I agree with what Natural Moments says, I feel fortunate to have found someplace to rest my heart.

Diane said...

I too am an only child and when my mother died in recent years I nearly fell apart. I was adrift from an important connection of family and place. Even when my mother was alive, the few times I travelled to the west coast it felt as though I was arriving home. I've never lived there but it felt open to me, welcoming, like home. Coincidentally, it was where my mom dreamed she would love to live but was never able to. Your writing so appeals to my soul. Thank you for this beautiful post.