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Home Has Arrived

April 3rd, 2012 at 10:56 am

Today’s Flyover People column as see in The Emporia Gazette:


Green is back.

While driving on Prairie Street the other day, I looked at the baby green leaves which cut a colorful new skyline against the background of blue. And one word came to mind: home.

Spring returns us to the green that I have craved since October, when bug-eaten leaves turned yellow or red or brown and fell to earth.

For me, spring is home. Spring pushes fresh air into my lungs; its delicious warmth settles into my bones. Spring helps me see things in the clearest of light.

Home is one of the most soothing words in our language. It suggests a place where you can be yourself, truly and completely.

While thinking of spring as home, other situations and locations came to mind. I recalled times in which I have let down all of my barriers, times when I have felt the most like me.

A dozen moments popped into my head. Home was giggling with childhood friends; we were always laughing. Home was exploring my grandmother’s farm. It was hanging out at the river, watching high school boys leap from the Pawnee Rock Bridge in those days when the Arkansas River still carried water.

I thought of the hiding places I had in my childhood backyard: under the lilac bushes, behind the pussy willow, and up in the silver lace vine which created its own foliage hammock between the evergreens and the fence along the alley.

Home is being with my mother. When I visit her in Arkansas, I’ll sit on her couch, a circle of books around me that I’ve pulled from her shelves. (She has the best book collection.) While I read, she works a crossword puzzle in the recliner.

Home is staying in my mom’s guest room; it’s that softer-than-Kansas air washing through the window screen as I fall asleep. In the morning I wake to the calls of forest songbirds.

In this one grand life, we each discover our own pockets of home. And when the world feels like it is burning at both ends, when we walk down the gangplanks of tough days at work, we can escape into our minds, run back to our hiding places under the lilac bushes or climb into that hammock of silver lace.

Our lives are a broken timeline. We can skip around through our past, finding memories that feel like home. Some of us remember collecting baseball cards, and listening to night games of the Royals on a transistor radio, the voice under our pillow announcing that Freddie Patek had stolen another base.

Memory repositories are like the water table. Those memories seem to drop, fade over time. But when the rains come, the water table rises, allowing those comforting memories to return.

Home can be many things. For some, home may be a particularly happy decade of life during which a person felt most like him or herself. Or, in the case of my friend Jay, a history professor, who says that he’s “a man of the ‘90s, the 1890s.”

Home for some of us was playing a Triple Word Score in the evenings at the dining room table. When the letter C clattered onto the linoleum floor, the dog rushed over to sniff it, hoping that the C would spell “cheese,” her favorite food.

Maybe we feel at home while baking our grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe, or enjoying dinner with our spouse. Home might be keeping the spine straight, writing down our stories, making room for all of our shadows.

Perhaps home is waking before dawn and stepping outside where the night sky lingers with stars and deep indigo.

Home might be gritty alleys, fast cars, or a noisy city. Maybe it’s a patch of farmland, the faces of your children, pine needles on a Colorado hiking trail.

Home may be the dotted lines on the open highway. It might be flying a plane that slices the sky with metal wings. Maybe it’s canoeing down a river, or skinning a fish.

Our lives reflect a complicated geography of where we’ve been and where we hope to go. Our lives are like vast prairies and endless skies.

And right now, in Kansas, we have green grass on the ground and green leaves in the air. Home has arrived.

Copyright 2012 ~ Cheryl Unruh

columns, Flyover Weather, nature, seasons

  1. April 3rd, 2012 at 16:47 | #1


  2. Brenda
    April 4th, 2012 at 08:53 | #2

    Cheryl, I always love your column, it is so precise and I feel like I’m right there with you. Thank you again for such great writings.