19 August 2013

The Haunted Hearth: Farmgirl Meditations on the Love of the Land

Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration. 
~ Charles Dickens

In August, I’m participating in BlogHer’s Blogging Challenge.  The theme this month is: Hot.

his land is haunted.

Over thirty years of memories linger here.  Childhood’s tears soak the earth; ghostly laughter dances with the summer wind; ripening apples, pears, and peaches of years past scent the air, and you shiver as a phantom cat brushes up against your bare leg.

This land is haunted.  And those are just my memories. 

With a house as old as this one, there are decades of memories living in its very bone structure.  Someone died alone in this room, this room had only a dirt floor. Union and Confederate feet alike marched through the trees, and through the cornfields.  Lovers loved, fought, cried, and made up.  Families grew, fought, moved away and left the imprint of their emotions on every inch of board, bone, and speck of dirt that we now call home.

This land is haunted.  And it has claimed me.

Some days I embrace it as the perfect home.  Just enough land to live on, but not enough to kill me with the upkeep.  Not in the city or in town, but not an impossible distance away.  Living here, both my introvert side and my extrovert side are happy.

But on other days, I long for more seclusion, more acreage.  Wish my support system of close friends all lived fifteen to twenty minutes away instead of an hour or more.  On those days, no one is happy: neither the introvert nor the extrovert.  On those days, I read. 

I walk. 
I garden.
I breathe.

And smell the apples and the pears.  Hear the laughter of the trees.  Watch dragonflies play tag among the tomatoes and the zinnias.  Feel the dew and the soft grass beneath my bare feet.  And remember where my soul belongs.

And the claim this haunted patch of earth has on me.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

One’s childhood home can have an incredible pull on the psyche ~ for good or ill.  What claim does your childhood home have over you?  If you’re a military brat, was there a specific place you lived as a child that holds more nostalgia for you?

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Unknown said...

This really resonates with me:

Wish my support system of close friends all lived fifteen to twenty minutes away instead of an hour or more.

Unknown said...

Thanks Barb! And welcome to La Belle, Bob! (Wow, that's a lot of B's! ;))

Good to know I'm not the only one sensitive to the hold of the past.

Anonymous said...

The home I grew up in, located in Alexandria, Virginia, was haunted too. It was haunted by a past that I didn't know much about but could feel the residue of nonetheless, emanating from the various artifacts that my family had collected over the years.

A photograph of Robert E. Lee, supposedly given to my father's ancestors by Lee himself, hung in the dining room. It's one of his most well-known likenesses, taken by Matthew Brady, showing him at Stratford Hall right after the Civil War ended. You can see all the weariness and horror of the recent conflict lining his haggard face and visibly oppressing his imposing frame. Also in the dining room hung a portrait of Rebecca Lloyd Tabb, a plantation belle married to slave owner John Tabb, her brown eyes still beguiling after more than 150 years, seeming to follow you around the room. I couldn’t fail to wonder at how such a kind face could belong to someone who lived off of the misery of people treated as only half human. And in the living room there was also a portrait of her mother, Anne Harriet Lee, which also seemed to have a life of its own. You couldn't possibly guess what was going on behind those eyes...but they appeared to gaze right into you, knowing your deepest secrets.

Nevertheless, although the "Recent Unpleasantness" did cast its sad spell over our home, I figure it's better to be haunted by something, however troubling, than disturbed by the specter of nothing at all--in truth, you can find on the front of at least one Old Town home not far from ours that most profound of all plaques, "On this site in 1897 nothing happened."