Jun 27 2016 1:00pm

In Search of a Word

Read this exclusive guest post from Tricia Fields, author of Midnight Crossing, about that inescapable feeling of content when you're “home,” and then, make sure you're signed in and comment for a chance to win a copy of the newest Josie Gray novel!

Sitting on the side porch this evening, I’m watching a lightning storm light up the jagged horizon across the woods beyond our hayfield. The rain is traveling across the field in a sheet, the wind whipping the tree tops like ragdolls. The garden soil and stone wall beyond the porch are wet but manage to smell fresh, washed clean from the rain. A charcoal colored sky fills the top third of my vista. Under it, a strip of golden hay ready for harvest, and then a deep green strip of clover that surrounds the field. The three distinct colors remind me of the stripes on a flag, the flag of a rural Indiana summer storm: gray, gold and green.

As I watch the lightning strikes zigzag across the tree tops, I’m thinking about the people who refuse to heed emergency evacuation calls to flee for safety; those people who vow to say with their homes, even in the face of death from floods or fires, tornadoes or hurricanes. Our small farm may not be much, but it’s what I love, and it’s my place in the world. I would defend this land with everything I have; they will burry me here one day under the pine tress. I wonder, sometimes, if this is middle-aged obstinacy or a natural human response.

Watching the rain ping off the roof of the woodshed, I realized this love of land is a character trait I share with Josie Gray, the heroine in my mystery series. While she’s a gritty cop and I’m a not-so-gritty writer, we do share certain basic qualities. I may live in rural Indiana while Josie lives in an adobe ranch in the far West Texas desert, but we both crave the land around us: the freedom of space.

I searched for a word to describe this sense of attachment one feels for a place, but I couldn’t find one to do justice to the emotion. Wanderlust came to mind—which seemed just the opposite. I don’t need to go searching for the next great thing; I have it right where I am. The thesaurus claims homesickness is the antonym for wanderlust. But, homesickness involves angst. It’s not the longing for this place I call home, but the joy experienced when I am standing on the edge of the field watching the sun set. What is that called? It seems that such a primal human emotion would have a name, a dozen names even!

I wonder how you describe the sense of contented happiness while walking through your own garden, sipping a glass of wine from your balcony in the city, or slipping the key into the lock on your front door in anticipation of the joy you will feel as you step into your corner of the world. In the end, I don’t suppose Josie and I need a word devoted to our particular experiences, as long as we have the feeling. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. once said, “Where we love is home—home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” 

Here’s to loving your own.


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Tricia Fields lives in a log cabin on a small farm with her husband and two daughters. She was born in Hawaii but has spent most of her life in small-town Indiana, where her husband is a state trooper. She won the Tony Hillerman Prize for her first mystery, The Territory, which was also named a Sun-Sentinel Best Mystery Debut of the Year, and was followed by Scratchgravel Road and Wrecked.

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Todd Henson
1. thedelfrog
Really nice post. I don't know that I currently feel the described sense of home, but I envy those of you who do. Perhaps one day. Until then, I'd love to read Midnight Crossing, and experience Josie Gray's home and her attachment to it.
Johannah Brookwell
3. Johannah
Home is something that has quite a bit of meaning for me. It's a place where you are loved unconditionally and no matter what life throws at you - you can rely on those at home for whatever you need.
Vernon Luckert
4. vl4095
For me, I would use the word "contentment".
ellie lewis
5. italia
Home is warmth, comfort and a feeling that all is right.
Shirley Younger
7. ydsddd
I am fortunate that I live in a home. Many of my friends just live in a house. There is a big differences! Looking forward to reading Midnight Crossing
8. Alyssa Weinzapfel
I feel so joyful and at ease when I am home. It's like sitting in front of a fireplace with a bowl of oven-baked Mac and cheese, and I can eat it all myself! That's my feeling.
Sue Farrell
10. Suekey12
Home to me isn't so much a place as where my loved ones are located.
Richard Derus
13. expendablemudge
I have a portmanteau word for a similar sensation of familiarity and homecoming, though not as positive as your reported emotion is: Nausalgia vu, or the slightly queasy sense of returning to the place you ran from, the pain it caused you, when it's a similar-but-different place or part of the world. Nausea, nostalgia, and deja vu.
Barbara Lima
18. barblima
This is intriguing, but I don't have much to tell me about the book.
Barbara Lima
19. barblima
This is intriguing, but I don't have much to tell me about the book.
MARY Mclain
Comfort or peace would be the word I would use.
Lara Maynard
21. baylou
I remember this word from some reading for a uni paper years ago: topophilia
Susan Pertierra
22. orchidlady01
I would read the first four books in the Hillerman Prize–winning series to find out more about Police Chief Josie Gray.
charles j hauser jr
23. admiral
Home? It's where I live wherever I am. It's not one place, not one idyllic memory. Sometimes it's hot and I wear the humidity like a plastic raincoat. Sometimes it's cold and my escaping breath is annihilated by a freeze. Nothing more than that.
Mary Hopper
25. CarvingGal
Ahh, home is where I grew up and wherever I currently live. It means peace and quiet and love above all.
Suzanne Williams
26. suzanne51
This is an interesting post, sure got me thinking about the difference between a home and a house. Also, I can see being tied to a specific piece of land that one would defend and never leave, but I really can't see that about a house. So maybe there is a word for houses that people love and a different word for the land (0r home) that one loves?
Eric Jewett
27. EAJewett
I can understand the feeling for your home and the area. Just across the state line a bit, I have it as well: the smell (even if not exactly pleasant), the crispness of the colors, sounds that instantly provide the context.
I do think Josie has discovered this in her transplanted home.
I can't think of a word with the exact flavor either, but would posit one that at least should exist in German - Geheimfreude, the joy of being at home.
Best of luck on the upcoming release; I am looking forward to it.
28. browsermix
home is a place of contentment. Where you feel safe, where you can hide from all the wrong in the world.....
Kathryn Baxter
29. KateBaxter
The Peace of Home
No purer joy on earth exists
Than when the day's wild course is run
Beneath they roof to rest thy soul
With peaceful heart at set of sun.

The crush the crowd, the brawling host,
Before thy threshold, war in vain,
Within thy doors there's naught can harm,
The world of home is thy domain.
-August Silberstein-
Nancy Zahar
30. nanze
Depending on my mood, home makes me feel either settled or nostalgic.
Joyce Lokitus
31. Joyce710113
The word I feel is "oneness". I am as one with the beauty of the nature outside my home. The farm crops, the distant tree covered mountains, and my gurgling little stream touch all my senses. I can lose myself in the sparrows eating from the feeders to the soaring of the hawks up above - soaring with them. From dusk to dawn the view changes with the light and my mood goes from hopeful to energized to peaceful along with it.
32. Peg Nitskoff
Felt like being wrapped in a warm blanket on a chilly night.
Cairine Stade
35. FaerySong
The word 'Home' has so much emotion attached to it that it covers all those feelings of being satisfied, peaceful with your place in life.
Robin Cresci
37. jrcresci
Living by the Sea is home for me. I dont think that I could ever live inland, 'landlocked' without a body of water by me. My seaside village is my home.
38. bonbon
Comfortable history!
dan breslin
39. knight99
when i was assigned to the world trade center starting the afternoon of 9-11 i will never forget the feeling i had of leaving the carnage and going to my home which was safe.
vicki wurgler
41. bison61
where we love is home-love that. home is my own quiet space on this earth where I am with my family that love me
Sandy Klocinski
48. attea2d
Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave but not our hearts

Oliver Wendell Homes, Sr
52. brennan seager
would be cool
Deb Philippon
55. DebP
After fixing and selling my parents' house, I found that home is where I build my "nest". I left that nest long ago, to build my own.
Linda Peters
62. linnett
Home is where ever there are family and friends, thanks
64. brownbnns
Would love to add this to my summer reading!
Jerry Marquardt
66. versatileer
This would be a very nice book to read in the summer time. I would like to thank you for giving us all the chance to win it.
Carl White
70. CarlWhiteEntry
Some say home is where the heart is, I say home is where the vagina is.
susan beamon
71. susanbeamon
Home is where I am happy, with my books and my cat.
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