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.