I’ve found another Word Press Photography challenge! Joining my pals Jeff Sinon and Mariah of Great Follies, I am going to see if Photography 101 helps me to get better at picture taking. The first assignment is ‘Home’.
I have was born on the East Coast (Salem, MA) and lived on the West Coast for 15 years, but the Midwest is where I’ve spent most of my life. I raised 4 kids here and brought myself through elementary school and mothering years by staying connected to woodlands and prairie. I photograph the land quite a bit. But home is movable. I love to travel and feel at home in lots of places. Where my heart is vulnerable and needs sheltering, centers around the table.
When I share a meal, I am inviting you into my deepest home. I am offering care and sustenance, as I need to be cared for and sustained. The people who eat at my table are family, whether by blood or by honor. We create Home together in mutual covenant. It is a sacred space.
Back in August, I did a blog post about Steve’s childhood home and his mom’s move out. You can see that post here. At the beginning of September, I traveled back to California to see my mother’s new digs and how my brother has renovated the old homestead and made it his own. Our mothers are only 3 weeks apart in age, both are turning 80 this December. This seems to be a rite of passage – relinquishing home ownership and the mental and physical effort it requires. I’m happy to say that both our moms have found communities of vitality and interest and that they are enjoying new friendships, new activities, and comfortable surroundings. Here’s a photo gallery of the Los Gatos trip (mostly for the edification of my kids who haven’t been there in a while).
In the late 1960s, a couple with 2 young children bought their first house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
There were small trees in the back yard that grew and grew…
The trees shaded the house and the garden. The children played beneath the trees, and the mother and father planted flowers in the garden so that they could sit outside and enjoy their color and fragrance.
As time went on, the children grew to adults and moved away from the house. The couple lived there still, and grew older together. Then the father died, and the mother lived there alone. Finally, she decided to sell the little home to another young family with small children…and a baby on the way. So she and her grown-up son said ‘good-bye’ to the place together.
Home. A weighty concept in some ways, but also tending toward the sentimental. It can connote fortification, shelter….and yet, homey can be quaint and trivial. We invent and reinvent our relationship to home throughout our lives. A place to go to, a place to run from, a place without, a place within. Maybe the truth about ‘home’ is that it is changing and fluid. That’s what I want to illustrate.
This photo was taken out of my bedroom window, from within the warm nest where I find safety, comfort, and respite. And yet, the window is transparent. It doesn’t completely shield me from the cold visually, nor does it keep me from feeling it (it’s an old drafty house, not well insulated at all!). It lets me come face to face with the physical realities of frost and even pulls me beyond the immediate perimeter of my house, across the street, up into the trees, and all the way out of the Earth’s atmosphere to the Moon. And still, this is all my home, too. The Universe is where I live. Home is near as well as far. And why should I not feel safety and belonging in all of the world’s manifestations? Cold and death and distance and infinity do not annihilate me, nor do they exalt me. They are familiar and comforting, too. I do not control my home as I do not control the weather…I live in it. And life is bigger than most of us imagine.
For another picture of home, mundane and temporal but nevertheless real and interesting, my last post was about our home business, Scholar and Poet Books. Please click here and take a look!
I love my daughter. I love having her visit, and I love how we slip into a comfortable companionship around making meals, talking, laughing, reminiscing and being outside. I love feeling that we are genuine with each other. It wasn’t always this way, of course, especially not when she was a teenager and I was an anxious mother. Ah, but it’s wonderful to mature.
I wonder how my relationship with my children would be different if my husband were still alive. Would we act as advisers? Would we be cheerleaders? Would we be judgmental? Would we be willing to share our mistakes and successes? Would we be anxious? Would we be distant?
I guess I feel like I can be more transparent, perhaps as if hindsight had opened up a window. I am able to offer my marriage as an example without feeling like I am betraying any confidence.
I suppose we learn by watching someone else’s example…and then rolling up our sleeves and doing it our own way. How did your parents influence the way you deal with money? or the way you communicate with your partner? or the way you take care of your health? When did their example stop influencing you?
My children are like embers from the fire my husband and I ignited. Our fire is extinguished; they’ve gone on to light their own blaze in the world. I hope they will be warmed and comforted by their own energy.
One year ago, my house had been up for sale with no offers for 8 months, despite making huge drops in the listing price. We celebrated our last Thanksgiving in the home we had occupied for 20 years with two of my daughters, my eldest’s First Mate, and two college friends of my youngest. We filled the place with warmth, laughter, good smells and love. Two days later, I got the offer. Closing date was January11. Without hiring professional movers, except for the baby grand piano, Steve and I moved out everything in the house, basement, patio and 3-car garage. Numerous trips in the van distributed the contents to Madison, Chicago, Harvard, charities, storage and Milwaukee. We had help from the First Mate’s dad and fireman friend for the couch and a super-heavy TV, but the rest we managed ourselves. I remember trying to corral the cat after everything else was gone. She had nowhere to hide, poor thing, and she refused to get into a cat carrier. Steve agreed to drive the van with her in the passenger seat in the bottom portion of the carrier, top removed. He petted her and talked to her soothingly as he drove the two hours here. I drove Jim’s car, grateful not to be distracted by her.
Steve’s place was stuffed to the gills with boxes, furniture, books, and cat. I marvel at how he made room for us. He’d been living alone for about a dozen years, five years in this place. We lived, worked, played, loved and engaged in our relationship intensely, doing the dance of supporting, caring, giving and taking. There were many tearful times, there was a 4-week adventure on the road, there were late-night Summit Meetings and many long walks through the countryside. I woke this morning and began to think of giving thanks. I looked at him sleeping next to me, and my nose prickled. A quiet stream leaked down my cheeks. I am so lucky to have a best friend, someone who truly loves me. I am so grateful to be here, to have a life I love, to be at home again.
For all of you, whatever your situation, I wish you Godspeed to your home. Welcome.