I am a seeker with a gypsy soul; adventure is the sum of my parts. Yet, it is always a kind of amiable pastime to dwell on the possibility of finding a place to call home. As the years roll by and the past recedes into a collage of faded photographs and occasional flashes of memory, I wonder what home means to me. Is it a country, a house, a family or merely a thought construct to tame my wandering soul?
For many people home means a family unit living under one roof. We grow up in our parents’ house with siblings and call it ‘home’. When we move out and make a new family unit, we call that home. I know several adults who always refer to the place they grew up as their home. I stopped that when my mother passed away, seventeen years after my father. Home left me and memories faded, no longer compounded by family get-togethers which invariably led down rural byways to childhood, enhanced by the passage of time into faded sepia photographs. Sometimes I dream in colour and I see the vividness of summer days spent on the farm of my childhood, tossing the hay, picking fruit, playing hide-and-seek with my sisters in the hay barn. Ironically, when someone presents me with a colour photograph from my youth, I recall the memory in black-and-white, a kind of foggy moment captured on camera. But my best memories are moments that no lens could capture, my reaction to the microcosm of nature, of life; tiny shells glistening like treasures in the sand, a butterfly emerging from its pupa, a bumble bee intent on tickling the extended fronds of a flower, tadpoles wiggling in a pool of water, endless moments in close proximity to unfolding life. Life birthing every new moment from the one before, like a telescopic event where years, seasons, days and moments in time recreated a new one especially for me. To me, this was home.
Decades on from my first close encounter with a ladybird tickling its way across my chubby fingers, I have witnessed many habitats and ecosystems on my travels and crossed paths with more poisonous creatures than my three-year-old self would ever care to witness. However, it is only when I return to the land of my youth, when I register specific smells and delight in the microcosm of local habitats, that I realise that I too, am a specific flower of this ecosystem. And this is what home means to me.