A PLACE CALLED HOME

Where is the place you call home?

In this morning’s paper I read a story about a young couple from New Orleans who came to the Hudson Valley when they were formed from their home by Katrina. Their daughter was born here, but after only a few months, the family returned to New Orleans because that felt like home—even in a small FEMA trailer.

I know people who have lived their lives within a few miles of their birthplace. Some have never traveled out of their state, and some barely out of their county. For me, that is a foreign thought. I would never have met people and have friends from around the country and around the world.

When I was in my early twenties, my parents said they were talking about moving from the farm. That thought horrified me. It was “home.” Once I married, Mom and Dad felt no restraint and within a year they left the farm for a small, nearby village and a totally different life. They lived there many more years than on the farm where they’d moved only months before I was born. I really “left home” when I went to college and only returned for vacations and visits.

This morning I asked my son and my daughter, “Of the several places you have lived, where is home?” Their response, “Where I am.”

So where is home for me? Where I am. My husband and I had twelve different addresses. Each one of them was “home” because that’s where we were. Each time we moved, we met new people, made new friends, and formed new ideas about the world we live in.

The question remains, “Where is your home?”

Our Home in Ahuas, Honduras101_0125

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SWEET CORN: A SUMMER TREAT

Sweet corn is on my short list of summer’s best offerings.

Today, I went to the farmers’ market in town and bought ten ears of corn. Tonight they will be on the table. Any leftovers will go in the refrigerator. Cold, I love to munch off those sweet kernels.

As a kid, I waited impatiently for that first taste of fresh sweet corn dripping with butter and salt. Our family had a large garden. I began checking the ears of corn when the silk started to turn brown. I probably also checked as soon as the silk turned from pale green to red, just to be sure it wasn’t ready. By the time I was nine or ten, I could be sent to pick the corn.

There is picture in my head. My parents are in the barn milking the cows. We are not having supper until after milking. Why? I don’t remember because supper was usually at five before Dad and the hired man did the milking.

Mom says I can help with supper by getting the corn ready. In the garden I search out the ears that look ripe. Then I pull a little of the husk away to be sure there are yellow kernels. I pick about a dozen ears and carry them to a spot by the barnyard fence. I strip the husks from the corn. My hands are not strong enough to rip several layers off quickly. Instead, I remove them one layer at a time.

Cows are always curious creatures. They line up along the fence to watch me. As I toss the husks over the fence they nudge one another out of the way to get the greens. Of course, these cows have been outside all day to graze in the pasture, but corn husks are special.

I take the corn to the house. By now, Mom is in the kitchen. She has a pot of boiling water on the stove. Dad and the hired man come in and wash up for supper. Mom lifts the hot yellow ears from the water. We slather them with butter and sprinkle on the salt. The moment has arrived!

BACK TO SCHOOL SALES

As a ten-year-old, a “Back to School Sale” excited me. It meant that school would soon be starting. I loved school. The first day of school meant a new dress, a pencil box with unsharpened pencils, a red square eraser, a six-inch ruler, possibly a image0compass for drawing circles, and a protractor for which I had no use, A new shiny lunch box, complete with thermos, was also a necessity in my view.  I looked forward to Labor Day and the beginning of a new school year.

All these necessities would often be purchased at a store in the nearby small village in upstate New York, or if Mom thought it necessary, Dad took us to Binghamton with its Montgomery Ward, Sears Roebuck, and big department stores. For me shopping in the city was  exciting. We would have lunch at Woolworth’s counter where the menu was displayed in bright pictures over the mirror facing the counter. This was a big deal.  My dad was a very patient man. He had little to do with our shopping. Instead, he leaned against the outside of the building and waited for the packages that he would trundle back to the truck while Mom and I continued shopping.

Now with the big box stores, and huge shopping centers that begin advertising “Back to School” sales the week school closes for the summer, I doubt that the signs have the same effect. Although my five-year-old grandson asked his mother when they going to buy the list of supplies that he brought home on the last day of school in June, my older grandson groaned at the thought of returning to school the first week of summer vacation.

Now sales signs and Labor Day seem to harbor the coming winter. I don’t find either exciting.

GOODBYE, JULY

GOODBYE, JULY

IMG_0260Today I’m including a poem that my husband wrote several years ago. It’s title, Goodbye, July.I confess reading it makes me a little melancholy.

Summer is my favorite season. July is my favorite month. It brings many memories of celebrations–two birthdays and our wedding.

Having a birthday in July is perfect when I was a kid. Halfway through the year, there were presents–almost like Christmas, except they were all for me. My mother baked cake-sized, flaky biscuits, covered them with quarts of fresh strawberries, and topped them with whipped cream for my favorite birthday cake.

In 1955, my husband and I married and we began living the next 58 plus years together. We made our home in several places, but celebrated each year we were together.

On Bastille Day in 1960, our son was born giving us another birthday to celebrate. Now married to a loving woman, he is father to two growing boys adding to that joy.

July is a month of fast growth in the garden. Lettuces, radishes, scallions, tiny beets, ripening tomatoes are incredible gifts. Flowers burst into bloom everywhere—in my garden and along highways and roads.

But the long July days grow shorter and are gone too soon. Thus the poem I share with you:

GOODBYE, JULY

Goodbye, July. Goodbye to lusty greens
that promised to last forever.
Goodbye to long, long daylight.

Farewell to fickle newness,
simple afternoons,
suspended time.

Goodbye to gentleness of breeze,
to rain and unhurried sun,

too idyllic,
your soft mornings
and your teasing evenings.
heart-breaking aromas of
thyme and mown grass
softening memory,
possessing meadow
and tree, horizon and
streams.

You seduce my mind and eye,
draw flabby senses into
euphoric knowing.

Goodbye, July. Away with
pretense and tease.
No more flirting.

Send me an August, take me back
to honest promises of May
fulfilling, that early on
whispered autumn.

Richard E. Lake