What home am I sick for?
Not my family's. Deaths and dysfunction have closed their doors. I left to get away from them anyway.
No, it is the land of my former home that calls me back. Rhythms of thunderstorms pulse in my blood. The warm, wet summer green fills my eyes and lungs as I choke on the dry golden California summer. Even the crisp white cold of winter beckons as I see the strange Christmas lights bracketed by palm trees and green lawns. The coziness of snuggling into warmth and comfort flet so much more luxurious against that frigid whiteness. And oh! The silvery blue reflection of full moon on snow!
I am no longer completely here. In my mind I walk ever more frequently in the land of my birth, the land where seasons make sense and are readily distinguished--each one with its trials and joys that remind me I'm alive.
When I was home--and home is Iowa--I couldn't wait to leave. At the time, there was nothing keeping me there. My grandparents had sold my beloved land--their farm--and I was stuck in town, away from the woods and streams of my childhood. The summer heat and humidity seemed oppressive. The frigid cold tore through my coat relentlessly. I yearned for moderate climes--or so I thought. Even more I yearned for a liberal atmosphere where I could be myself.
During my first few years in California I did enjoy the relief of moderate temperatures. I scoffed at people who complained that it was too cold or too hot. I ran around in sweaters in 30 degree weather. I was the hardy Mid-westerner, after all.
Gradually I began to notice the downside of living in what is referred to as the "Mediterranean" climate.
I began to realize that here, rain rarely equals thunderstorms. Some might think it is silly to miss thunderstorms. But I have always dearly loved them. When I was a small girl my mom told me that thunder was the sound of God talking. From then on, thunder and lightning seemed majestic and magical to me.
When thunderstorms do occur here, they are pitiful specimens. The dramatic fury of Mid-western thunderstorms that can shake houses and wake you out of a sound sleep is here reduced to something resembling a mere temper tantrum. Little drama and no magic in these thunderstorms.
I do admit that I've grown attached to the ocean. But in the far more hectic pace of life here in the bay area, laid back reputation aside, I rarely get to the ocean. On the other hand, back home, thunderstorms come to you! There's nothing like an amazing light and sound show delivered right to your door.
I also became increasingly aware of the dryness of summer. At first I appreciated "dry heat" as opposed to its humid cousin. But as I looked at the parched appearing landscape--seen only in droughts back home--and tried desperately to keep my flowers hydrated, I began to regard the summer sun as my enemy and to feel that I was living in a full-fledged desert. I understand that many people find deserts beautiful, and enjoy the golden California hillsides. But for many of us who grew up with lush green summer landscapes, it simply looks and feels wrong. I must add that the notion of a fire season seems bizarre and terrifying to those not used to it. Fire just should not be a season.
I believe that we all have an imprint of our native environment upon our psyches, and when we remove ourselves to a foreign landscape we feel some subliminal disconnection. It is certainly possible to learn the ways of a new land and come to deeply appreciate the differences. Yet I think there remains in all of us a pull of the memory of our birthplace and the essential rightness of Nature there.
For me that pull is very strong. Sooner or later it shall bring me back to my beloved green Iowa.