Snapshots from home

Plenty of folks may say you can’t go home again, and I understand what they mean. But I went home to North Carolina for a bit of rest a few weeks ago anyway. Here are some snapshots and brief thoughts of my visit home.

It’s hard to balance the need to rest with the desire to catch up with dear friends and family, and so I ended up not doing as much of either as I had hoped. I am slowly realizing that it may always be this way on the visits home, the pull of the heart to spend time with those I love and the pull of the body to rest and soak up the nature of this beautiful place.

The cows came up to the near pasture on my hike through this most favorite of places:


I always love this view but especially when the field is full of cows.


Fields of gold

I almost missed my chance at taking this hike, so busy hiking and running and walking in other loved places, but if I hadn’t gone, I would have missed the lilies blooming:


North Carolina’s official wildflower: the turk’s cap lily/carolina lily

I also would have missed this view, complete with tiny rabbit on the path ahead.



This view, this path … they restore my soul. Everything is so green and teeming with life here. There is green in California, too, but the predominant color during this drought is brown. My eyes were thirsty for green, and spending an afternoon of hiking here quenched the deep thirst in my eyes and in my soul.

A drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway brought a lovely rainbow and a reason to pull over.


I only saw a single rainbow at the time, but now that I look at the picture, I’m convinced there’s a double in there.

Leaving the mountains to visit Raleigh was exciting but hard. The mountains bring more rest and cool weather. But Raleigh holds my heart, too, even though I tried to cram too much into my short time there.

One of my first Raleigh stops was the bookstore to pick up Go Set a Watchman and to take a picture of the religion shelf at the back of the store:


Such joy to see my book sitting there among the others

I do not know of anything that makes a new author happier than seeing her book on a bookstore shelf for the first time. I resisted the urge to move The Flourishing Tree to face out—seems that may be a bookstore faux pas or at least too presumptuous, despite the extra room on the shelf. This picture brings me much delight, and a little chuckle, too. I mean, doesn’t it look like Billy Graham is just itching to move one shelf up so he can read my book? (smiles) Those are signed copies, by the way. And so if you’re in the Raleigh area and have been meaning to pick up a copy of my book, it’s there waiting for you.

Visits home mean lots of good food, precious minutes with as many friends as possible, but also downtime simply to breathe and enjoy where I am. I snuck over to the arboretum on a beautiful, cooler-than-usual-for-July-in-Raleigh morning to soak in the beauty of color-filled gardens and quiet spaces.


The arboretum’s Japanese garden, where I’ve always wished they had a rake for the rock garden instead of a sign that asks visitors to keep off.


Lily pads but no frogs


A riot of blooms, always guaranteed until the heat of August sets in


This last picture reminds me of the unhappiest part of my trip, though this particular bee was innocently minding its own business, pollinating flowers at the arboretum.

I was pulling weeds in a garden that was (and still technically is) mine, and I managed to uproot a yellow jackets’ nest. As the yellow jacket “bloom” registered, my brain said, “Run.” I couldn’t move fast enough. Zing. Zing. Zing. Zing. Zing. Yowee!

I’m so grateful for my sweet neighbor who got the yellow jackets off of me and let me recover at her house. I’m grateful that with 12 yellow jackets on me, I only got stung five times. I’m grateful to my doctor whose voice was calm and reassuring over the phone. I’m grateful to my dad for coming to get me, taking me to the pharmacy and then out to dinner. I’m grateful to my friends who understood why I had to cancel dessert plans with them that night (but missing them made the stings, well, sting even more).

While the visit to North Carolina was bittersweet, it was mostly sweet. And I look forward to the next one. Earlier today, I read a beautiful article about visiting friends from home and wanting them to know they didn’t have to put on any shows or do any extraordinary entertaining. I hope my friends understand that, too. It’s hard to miss the important birthdays and other big events, but in many ways, it’s even harder to miss the day-to-day ways we could catch up when we lived so close together. That’s what makes just being able to sit together on these short visits such treasured times.

For those of you who no longer live where you grew up, how do you find the visits home? How do you balance a need to rest, a desire to visit favorite places and the joy of spending time with friends? If you had to move away from what is home to you now, what would you miss most?

6 thoughts on “Snapshots from home

  1. Oh Hope – You know that I completely get this feeling. I have only been back to Raleigh twice (or three times?) and it’s always so bittersweet. I love seeing friends, eating at all my favorite spots, visiting all my favorite places. But it’s sooo hard to leave. I get so emotional having to say “until next time”….. and oh so hard to see our house with someone else living in it and the yard not as nicely kept up. Then balancing the other vacations and experiences that you’d also like to do… while also finding time exploring your new home? Yep. I get it. Kim always corrects me, though. She feels like “HOME” is where you are living, with your partner, your family. I guess “hometown” would be OK to her. 🙂

    • Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone in this. It does feel weird to say, “I’m going home,” when talking about either coast. I guess neither and both feel like home in very different ways. I understand Kim’s point, and so maybe I need to start thinking of Raleigh (and other parts of NC) as hometown/home state. I’ve been fortunate to have gotten to visit as much as I have, but it’s definitely hard to leave and, as you so aptly put it, “say “until next time.'”

  2. It was wonderful to see you. It is very difficult to balance time with friends and just time to touch and see the famaliar haunts. When I go home to Charlotte, I’m always busy with famiuly and rarly get to see old friends. But then, with a 90 year old mama and 94 year old aunt, that time is precious. It all balances out. Loy

    • And, Loy, you’re always so good about finding time for what’s most important. I cherished our few minutes catching up and so very much appreciate you stopping by. A longer visit someday when we both have more time …

  3. And don’t forget what a pleasure it is for those of us who remain at ‘home’ to see you, totally unexpectedly, appear! I am sure the cows and flowers feel the same as I do!

    • 🙂 I don’t know … the cows seem mostly indifferent, but maybe the flowers preen a bit more for me. It was great seeing you, and I look forward to seeing you again the next time around.

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