Home on the Range
Home … what defines it? Grandma’s old farmhouse? The whirr of traffic buzzing past the highway in front of your childhood home? Pepsi in a glass bottle from the upright dispenser in Uncle Bob’s auto shop, tugged from its individual, circular cubby behind the swinging glass door? The bleating horns of cabs in front of your urban apartment? The aroma of the Italian bakery on the corner? Family dinners around a bonfire? The dusty smell of soaked creosote bushes after a desert rain?
The picture below says “home” to me like nothing else: a lone saguaro cactus, the volcanic Galiuro mountain range in the background, grazing ranch horses, desert washes, blue skies.
I have to be honest … this wasn’t always my concept of home. I grew up close to Lake Erie, in Pennsylvania. Home, then, was harsh winters with 10-foot snow banks, warm summers in Grandma’s pool, row upon row of emerald-green corn stalks, red-speckled salamanders, and of course, mom and dad at my sporting events, and go-karts, and motorcycle rides, the restoration of a vintage car with my dad …
My concept of home has, indeed, changed over the years, making me believe that there is room for more than one home in a person’s heart. And I think home can be any variety of things. A place. A feeling. A person. A destination.
For Writers & Readers: In the novels you write and read, do you view home as a structural place? Or do you think it can be more than that – a setting, an object, something more abstract – like a feeling? My wedding invite (authored by me) said, “Home is the place we found when we found one another.”
What do you think of authors who write novels only in their own familiar settings (their homes) – i.e. only New England, only the southwest, only urban environments, only the medical setting, only acadamia? Do you appreciate these settings since the author knows the details intimately and can paint an authentic picture for you? Or do you wish authors would flex their creative muscles more – branch out a bit? Does it even matter?
What is home? Please feel free to share some of your memories that define home for you.