May 17th, 2013…
It was the moors that did it. Driving over the top of those hills and seeing the White Rose of Yorkshire on the sign by the roadside. It gets me every time. It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.
It is the colours, perhaps. The familiarity of the names and places, the accent…the terrain… just a quality in the light on water… the smell of rain-drenched bracken and heather, even the smell of wet sandstone. The great boulders and limestone cliffs, the dry stone walls snaking across the hillsides… I don’t know. All I know is that there is something about it that is home.
Unexpectedly, I found myself there earlier in the week, spending an evening with a dear friend and staying over. And waking to a Yorkshire morning. The first for a long time.
I had driven within a few miles of my birthplace, the familiar horizon of childhood tugging at me. I remembered the legends and tales, the drowned villages and the creatures of myth. I recalled hearing the stories from my grandfather, walking with my great grandfather, sharing laughter. I could almost see the Grammar School I attended, as I watched a basket of racing pigeons go up from the place we used to release ours….and as my friend hugged me hello, even the pavement felt like home and the rain a familiar caress.
I have been homesick ever since. I could say I left something of myself there, apart from the camera with all the photographs…
It had been a weekend for friendship, meeting one for dinner and hello in Derbyshire, hugging many others, very special ones for breakfast and farewells, and so much love, finished off by the delightful and unexpected invitation to dinner. It was one of those gorgeous, evenings that cover so much unusual ground, from so many obscure angles and, of course, it took me into Yorkshire.
I started wondering about home.
What is it exactly? A house is just that… bricks and mortar, no matter how comfortable, it is only a home when it is filled with memories and love. Places matter, of course,where the roots go deep into the landscape or where there is something that simply resonates with the inner being. But so do people. Even more. Memories are so entwined with them and the scenes we recall the most vividly are usually coloured by the presence or absence of those we love.
I have a home here in the south, with my sons close by and many memories of their growing. But I have a home too in the north, though no bricks and mortar I can call my own. Because home is where the heart is, perhaps, or maybe where the heart comes alive is where home is.
I was at home with my beautiful sister-soul, wherever we wandered across the south. I was at home on the ancient track between two borrowed pillars watching a sunset. I was at home with my son cleaning his home. I am home, wherever my feet may stand, in the company of friends and those I love, in whom I take such delight.
In which case, home is not a geographical point but a state of being, lit with the light of love.