As I pack up to head back “home” from a place I also consider home, I have been listening to the audio version of Frances Mayes’ new book, A Place in the World: Finding the Meaning of Home. I didn’t get very far before my earbuds fell out too many times (who do these things fit snugly?) but it was long enough to know that Mayes and I disagree about what it takes for a dwelling to feel like home. You will need to read her book to understand that she feels like many, many places have felt like home. I have lived in several houses but only a few have felt like home.

Another view of “home” my childhood friend, Janet Compiano Alonzo, who wrote in this space:

“Home is the place where from every view I can find a memory. The dining room table is a good spot to begin. I always sit at the end nearest the kitchen and my husband always at the opposite end. In between we have watched our family grow from a young family of 5 to small army of 16: three grown kids and their spouses, eight grandkids, and the two of us. And there’s also the spot where my mother always sat, so bravely filled when our daughter stepped up that first holiday without her Grandma…. I understand, of course, that home is a state of mind and not merely a chunk of real estate, but after so many years in the same spot it would be hard to imagine living anywhere else on earth. It seems our home has acquired a soul!”

The prospect of returning home in September leads me to think about how, in my view, the new year begins. Some readers who responded to last week’s blog agreed with me and others did not:

Gail L. from Cape Cod believes the year begins on January 1: “When you see the lighted cod dropped over the pond at midnight who can doubt that another year has begun. [ed: Whaaa? Do they really do that? It seems that they do!] Apropos to nothing, my children haven’t been in school for many years but I still feel the need to be home around 4 pm, perhaps due to years of waiting for the school bus.” [It never occurred to me why I have this same feeling.]

Merry H. wrote that the school year is a new beginning:  “September is when the year starts for the same reason. Thanks for making me think!”

And Marcia R. has a completely different view: “The new year for me begins in the warmth of spring when everything is just beginning to bloom and come back to life. It is also the time when I can shed my winter clothes and put on shorts and less restrictive summer wear. A time for flip-flops, shorts, and cotton dresses. A time to sit on the patio watching the hummingbirds flit from feeder to feeder and to watch the squirrels duck under the lid of the squirrel feeder to pluck a peanut to munch on while dropping the shells on the ground before diving in for yet another nut. Being a born and raised CA girl I love the warm weather and for the freedom to enjoy the great outdoors and observe the abundant things in nature that surround me every day. Thanks again and keep on writing.”


ABOUT THE WRITER:  Recently Janet Compiano Alonso, a friend since childhood, sent me this moving description of what home means to her. A former teacher and current writer, Janet is working on a book of historical fiction set in California’s Sutter Basin.

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About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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