When You Go Home
When I go home I’m lucky to be able to visit a place that hasn’t changed significantly since my childhood. Until recently, that same house even contained my grandparents’ wood burning stove from their homestead. The stove dated back to probably the mid-1940s and when all that heat from over all those years finally caused some of those old welded seams to part, it was time to donate that relic to the museum.
There’s nothing quite like that feeling of returning home, going back to the place where you were born and raised. A lot of people don’t get the chance to do that. In early September, I did have the chance and I took it.
Listen to me read this post:
During the summer I’d been invited to an anniversary celebration. It wasn’t just any old invitation, either. A stranger tracked me down on Facebook probably having used an ancient church directory to find my name that has never changed. I thought this kind of effort deserved my attendance. Also, I try to make the long trip back to northern Alberta once a year if I can.
The folks hosting the party put on a nice dinner Saturday evening and on Sunday morning, held a church service with an old fashioned corn roast afterwards. The corn was good, but the best part of the service was who I got to sit with in that polished wooden pew.
Who’s watching who?
When I was four years old, my parents rented a house by a hamlet out on the highway a few miles east of the community where I grew up. It was in this tiny house that Dad glanced up from watching television one evening to see a mouse on top of the TV watching him.
I was four years old and I was in love.
The man who rented the house to us operated the gas station next to it. Together, those two elderly buildings sat near the entrance to the hamlet and watched the sparse traffic pass for years. At four years old, I planned to marry that gas station man when I grew up. Our forty-one year age difference didn’t matter a hoot to me. I was four and I was in love.
A few weeks ago, I got to sit in church with this very first love of mine, now ninety-two years old and sharp as a tack, fit as a fiddle, and still married to someone else. I’m beginning to lose hope that my chance will ever come. When you go home, there are chances to reconnect.
New flavours, old memories.
When you go home, you sometimes discover new flavours mixed in with the old memories. In my hometown, a new restaurant has taken the place of the Burger Baron. Its menu is varied and nicely-priced, and one of the cooks’ specialties is Indian food. At this place, I ate one of the best Indian dishes I’ve ever had. It was flavourful and spicy! When you go home, some changes are unexpectedly pleasant.
Home never looked so good.
If you’re lucky, when you go home you discover that your childhood home looks even better than when you lived there. New siding, mature trees, wide patio doors, and a lovely deck off the back of the house made me beam with pride, and it’s not even my house.
Two tastes of home.
As parting gifts when I left the Peace country on Tuesday morning, my friends sent with me two tastes of home. The first gift was red potatoes, huge and flawless, with crisp white flesh. Back here in Hughenden, we cut them up and fried them in a ton of butter along with parsley from the herb bed. The potatoes from my friends’ garden lasted only three days in my house. There’s nothing like fresh produce to remind me what home tastes like.
The second parting gift was two jars of locally-produced honey. I’d been home a few days when I opened one of the jars to take a little taste. Immediately, I was transported back more than thirty years to the summer during which I worked in the apiary at the college, processing honey and raising queen bees. When you go home, you remember that honey tastes like the place it comes from, like canola flowers and clover and Peace country sunshine.
When you go home, the experience makes you appreciate connections to a place and it makes you value time because, upon returning home, it’s obvious that the years move along. I’m one of the fortunate ones who can still go home. Not forever and not always but for now.
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