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.

Comments

  1. Todd Henson

    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.

  2. Gordon Bingham

    A nice juxtapositioning of genres…

  3. Johannah Brookwell

    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.

  4. Vernon Luckert

    For me, I would use the word “contentment”.

  5. ellie lewis

    Home is warmth, comfort and a feeling that all is right.

  6. pearl berger

    Welcome and in the best place.

  7. Shirley Younger

    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.

  9. Karl Stenger

    I would love to read the book.

  10. Sue Farrell

    Home to me isn’t so much a place as where my loved ones are located.

  11. Janice Santillo

    Contentment and a feeling of peace.

  12. Jeffrey Tretin

    So interesting!

  13. Richard Derus

    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.

  14. bill norris

    home for sure calms me down.

  15. Kris Kaminski

    I’m Going with Peace

  16. Laurent Latulippe

    Looking forward to reading this.

  17. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    Home is where I win! Yes!

  18. Barbara Lima

    This is intriguing, but I don’t have much to tell me about the book.

  19. Barbara Lima

    This is intriguing, but I don’t have much to tell me about the book.

  20. MARY Mclain

    Comfort or peace would be the word I would use.

  21. Lara Maynard

    I remember this word from some reading for a uni paper years ago: topophilia

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topophilia

  22. Susan Pertierra

    [s][/s][s][/s][s][/s]I would read the first four books in the Hillerman Prize–winning series to find out more about Police Chief Josie Gray.

  23. charles j hauser jr

    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.

  24. Daniel Morrell

    there’s no place like home

  25. Mary Hopper

    Ahh, home is where I grew up and wherever I currently live. It means peace and quiet and love above all.

  26. Suzanne Williams

    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?

  27. Eric Jewett

    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…..

  29. Kathryn Baxter

    [b]The Peace of Home[/b]
    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-

  30. Nancy Zahar

    Depending on my mood, home makes me feel either settled or nostalgic.

  31. Joyce Lokitus

    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.

  33. Clydia DeFreese

    The feeling is “heaven”.

  34. Kyle Johnicker

    Great post.

  35. Cairine Stade

    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.

  36. lasvegasnv

    an interesting feeling

  37. Robin Cresci

    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!

  39. dan breslin

    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.

  40. Melissa Keith

    Home is where my cats are!!

  41. vicki wurgler

    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

  42. Richard Hicks

    Something I want to read!

  43. Andrew Gordon

    i want to read this.

  44. Lori Walker

    Want!

  45. Michelle Garrity

    Looks like a good read!

  46. HESTER MAYO

    Looks good!!

  47. JULES M.

    sounds like a wonderful book

  48. Sandy Klocinski

    Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave but not our hearts

    Oliver Wendell Homes, Sr

  49. Denise Sachs

    This would be great, thanks.

  50. JAMES LYNAM

    Awesome Summer read at the beach.

  51. Cynthia Mercado

    This looks like a great interesting read!

  52. brennan seager

    would be cool

  53. Susan Smoaks

    thank you for the chance to win

  54. kathy pease

    Thanks for the chance

  55. Deb Philippon

    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.

  56. Ed Nemmers

    I would like to read the work of Tricia Fields.

  57. Daniel Vice

    This would be great

  58. Tricha Leary

    This would be great!

  59. Betty Curran

    Home is contentment and peace.

  60. Kim Keithline

    sounds great sign me up

  61. Penny Snyder

    Peaceful!~! Would love to read this!!

  62. Linda Peters

    Home is where ever there are family and friends, thanks

  63. Christal Mormann

    Thank you

  64. brownbnns

    Would love to add this to my summer reading!

  65. Buddy Garrett

    It sounds like a wonderful novel. Thanks.

  66. Jerry Marquardt

    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.

  67. Lily Kwan

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  68. Tim Moss

    Good deal, count me in!

  69. Philip Lawrence

    Home is where the heart is!

  70. Carl White

    [b]Some say home is where the heart is, I say home is where the vagina is.[/b]

  71. susan beamon

    Home is where I am happy, with my books and my cat.

  72. Janet Gould

    love

  73. SUSAN GANNON

    thanks for the chance

Comments are closed.