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 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:
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.
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.
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.
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?