Several years ago, the girls gave me a beautiful plaque of sorts for Mother's Day. It hangs in our kitchen and it says, "home is where your mom is." For them, this will always be home. It's where they grew up and is the only house they ever knew before they left home for college and eventually jobs and marriage.
Northwest Ohio is certainly not where you'll find the most beautiful landscape in the world. It's table top flat. Much of its natural vegetation has been cleared for farming, so as you look out across the countryside, you will likely see fields of corn, wheat, oats, clover, alfalfa, or soybeans. From the air, you'd see that this area is laid out in patchwork mile squares, as a result of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. There are clusters of small woods dotted here and there and creeks and rivers running through. Mostly creeks.
There's no drama here. No mountains, no elk or bear, no majestic waterfalls. Just the slow, steady, easy life in a quiet place that most proclaim as a "good place to raise a family." It's not the Bible Belt, but still, you'll find strong Christian values played out regularly, whether it's an ice cream social at a small country church or community members joining together to help out a neighbor that needs it.
One night last week, as the sun was setting over the corn field to our west, I was struck by the fact that this place where we live has its own beauty. It happens to me every year about this time. I see the golden wheat fields blowing in the breeze against a blue, blue sky and hear the killdeer calling out and the scene is so serene, it calms me. I can smell the ripening wheat, too, and it smells good.
Life here is pretty predictable, which might be thought of as boring for some, but there's also a comfort in it. You can measure the passing of time by events like the wheat harvest, the Perseid Meteor Shower, Indian Summer, the migration of the Canada Geese and the return of the lightning bugs and cicadas. Some of these things aren't unique to here, but I think they are given more significance than just a passing observance. That's what the quiet life will do for you.
We built a fire in our firepit that night, as we do on a regular basis on summer and fall evenings, and we sat under the stars between the cucumber vines in our garden to our west and the corn field to our east. Our neighbors Tom and Helen walked over and joined us, as they many times do and as we stared into the mesmerizing flames, we talked of many things. Our children, our jobs, our dreams. We look up and we never stop being awed by the night sky with its twinkling stars and planets. This night we saw Jupiter in the southeast and Venus in the west, shining the brightest of all.
Sometimes we roast hot dogs or marshmallows on homemade skewers, and sometimes we just sit and enjoy the company of each other. The fire keeps the mosquitoes at bay, but our voices attract the attention of our cats. One by one, they creep into the circle and eavesdrop on our conversation. Jack and Max look for a friendly lap to lay in and there's always one of those available. Tom likes our cats and knows each of them by name.
After a couple of hours, someone says, "Well, this was great. I'm going to head in. See you later." We stir the dying embers to make sure they're nearly out, gather up our things and head to the house. We smell faintly of wood smoke, but we don't mind. When we wake in the morning, it will remind us of the lovely time we had the night before.
There's nothing wrong with having a desire to live in other places. To be sure, it would be awesome to look out your back door at mountains, or to not have to worry about shoveling snow before you went anywhere. But this is an okay place to be, too. Our ancestors settled here, and our families both are still here, which is probably a big reason why we're still here, too.
Because after all, home is where your mom is, and this feels like home.