Do you ever stop and think about what grounds you? I mean what really makes you who you are, what has shaped you over your life, and what rocks you to your very core when you think about it not being there anymore. For me it is more than one thing, but I think that's true for most people.
Of course family is and always will be at the top of my list, with pets right up there. When I look around my house there are certain possessions that remind me of my lineage, like the pieces my parents made for us, antiques I bought when we didn't have two nickels to rub together, heirloom pieces I inherited, gifts we've been given, and sweet mementos my children have made or given us over the years, but aside from photos, the other stuff is mostly just stuff.
This weekend we went over to help our son mow the farm property I own with my siblings. There is a lot to mow there, especially when the fields need trimming, so it's a two tractor event that takes awhile to do. My grandfather used to do this all on his own, though he did let us drive the tractors, and I learned to drive on an old tractor complete with a metal seat and hair trigger clutch.
From the day I was born, this land has been a part of me, the nuances of its hills and furrows are burned into my brain, and I know that they will remain there forever.
After my grandparents had both died, the farm was passed to my mother and father. At times I think tending to it was a burden for them, having land requires work, but most of the time it was just a place they felt great affection for as they lovingly cared for it.
After my parents both stopped working, the farm became their own playground of sorts. My dad planted blueberry bushes and they always had a huge garden each summer. They built a cabin for the grandkids on the property, hosted big parties complete with roaring bonfires, and took us on hayrides in the snow...it had become a place where my children were now deeply rooted just as I was, and our family before them had been.
Now, this land is in the hands of myself and my 3 siblings, each of us with a different take on what it means to us.
As I wandered the property with my camera, I was struck by how many memories I have stored from every vantage point, even though so much has changed since I used to ride my bike or walk from my own home to spend time there as a child.
I could recall how it felt to run through the fields of hay or rye grass so tall we could hide in them. How the horses who grazed the fields smelled and how it felt to run my fingers through their manes.
I could smell the flowers and the honeysuckle that lined the ditches, and hear my grandmother's voice as she hollered to my grandfather to come in for lunch or supper.
I could smell the freshly baked cakes, canned tomatoes, and Sunday suppers we all shared here, and see my grandparents sitting on their side porch watching the horses and life go by as they aged gracefully.
And I remembered those crazy sleepless nights when we brought our own firstborn home to this house which we rented as a young married couple. It was a small place, with a tiny kitchen and one bathroom, but it felt like a palace to us. Every wall held memories of laughter, every creak in the floor spoke of children playing, and every slam of the screen door meant that summer was here and sour grapes needed eating and old junk cars needed 6 year olds to drive them, even if weeds were growing through the floorboards and they never moved!
They say you can't come home again, and although that's true because things are always changing, what they don't tell you is that home never leaves you, it's always inside of you.
Home is the seed that never stops growing, the one that can lay dormant during a drought or rot from too much rain, but then springs forth despite the hardships of life.
It is the tree that may lose branches, but its roots run so deep that it can weather any storm and provide shade on the hottest of days.
Things change, people change, but the things we hold dear endure in a way that rust and decay can not touch.
Cracks can form, wrinkles may appear, but underneath it all is the place that grounds us, the heart of it all.
The nuts and bolts of our lives are what we use to construct our own destinies. We can be mindful architects or careless builders of places that won't stand the test of time. We must all chose to use quality materials that will give us solid foundations, chose a site that will ground us and not wash away, and constantly tend to ourselves and make the repairs necessary, because if you love yourself you will be ever mindful that even after you are gone, others will feel and benefit from the strength of your structure.