“…All we can do is keep telling the stories, hoping that someone will hear. Hoping that in the noisy echoing nightmare of endlessly breaking news and celebrity gossip, other voices might be heard, speaking of the life of the mind and the soul’s journey.”Jeannette Winterson, Weight.
“There is a dragging creature on the farm.” This was one of the first things Andrea said when we arrived at Lower Shaw Farm, our first wwoofing adventure. “It pulls things along the ground at night and leaves them several yards away.” They’ve tested several theories and believe that it is a short, perhaps playful or even lazy creature. It doesn’t drag things very far and can’t seem to carry big or heavy things. Matt called it a monster and showed us the book he had on hunting monsters, but Andrea corrected him and said that she preferred to call it a creature.
The dragging creature has been the preferred topic of conversation during most meals, especially at breakfast. This kind of inquisitive, vocabulary-rich, intelligent, and playful kind of conversation is displayed continuously throughout the day, on nearly any topic of conversation. Literature, compost, chickens, music, juggling, and even nipple tassels have been topics of lovely discussion over the last week and a half.
David and I are at home here.
* * *
“…You made this world, and it’s lovely, every inch of it. When I think of the things I’ve loved I find myself choking with happiness, or maybe sorrow, I don’t know; and every one of them has been something in this world that you made.” ~Phillip Pullman, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.
* * *
Hello! Greetings from across the pond. How are you? So much has happened in the last few weeks. I would love to sit down and have a chat with each one of you…but this imperfect vessel of the blog will have to do. I want to talk about home for a little bit. If you’d like, feel free to read this aloud in a soft, lyrical British accent. I seem to be picking up a bit of my native tongue here on this island nation. My thoughts are in a British accent, especially when I’m writing in my journal.
But it’s not just the British accent that surrounds us. One of the residents on the farm is Canadian, eh, and we’ve been living with wwoofers from Italy, Spain, and Germany. We love our ever-expanding international family.
So, what is home? We’ve been away from home, the heartland, the good ol’ U. S. of A. (in fact, we spent the Fourth of July in England of all places!) since the first of April. Left the safety and security of good jobs and, like fools, followed our heart and the wind to foreign lands. We spent a month in Belgium, a month and a half in France, and now we’re spending almost two months in the UK.
(Since we weren’t able to come to an agreement with the gallery in Prague, where we had expected to reside until the end of October, we did some thinking and praying and decided to wwoof for the last six weeks on our trip before returning to the States. WWOOF is a network of organic farms worldwide that allows volunteers to learn about organic living, gardening, animal caretaking, etc. on their farms.)
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I recently celebrated my thirtieth birthday in Paris, attending Shakespeare and Co’s literary festival. We couchsurfed with a Parisian artist named Julien. It was a thrilling three days as we listened attentively to speeches, readings, and interviews with international writers, reporters, and poets.
For me, listening to writers feels like home. I sunk easily into their world like a worn-in, cushy chair as I listened. My heart connected with theirs as they spoke about their passion for story and poetry, for social justice and compassion, for unity and relationship. The poet Tjawangwa Dema from Botswana created the heart of this literary home in the park, just across the street from the mystical Notre Dame. Philip Pulman, author of The Golden Compass, formed the brain through his scholarly musings. Nam Le from Australia generated the joyous laughter from the belly, while Jeanette Winterson, author of The Stone Gods, fashioned the feet and hands, as she urged us to go out into the world and write.
When we left the artist’s home, I wondered if I would find home in the nation that my ancestors had left behind. I watched the Cliffs of Dover grow larger as we rode the ferry across the English Channel. The Decemberists’ song played softly in my head. Was I almost home? I have some German and French blood in me, but most of my ancestors came from England, Scotland, and Wales.
London, although at once stunning and overwhelming with its concoction of urban architecture and historical building, did not feel like home. Riding the infamous London Tube tested my newly acquired inner peace. We were couchsurfing at a friend’s flat and, although we were very grateful for its comfort, it didn’t feel like home.
I felt a slight tugging on the heartstrings when I saw the Tower Bridge, its majestic presence crossing over the Thames River. I stood in awe of the Parliament Building, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. At the Southwark Cathedral, David and I marveled that we were staying in a place of worship, where some of the early Christians prayed in the 7th century.
They say that home is where the heart is. I find my heart in writing—both poetry and fiction—and in lively discussion with lovely people. I find that my heart is with my husband, as we work and live and eat and sleep in different places and with different people all over this blue, round ball. I find my heart everywhere and at once deep within me.
I also find that my heart is calling me home, to the sleepy town in Ohio where I lived as a little girl until I was eleven. The town where we lived in a tiny, five room apartment and where I shared a bedroom with my younger brothers. The town where our family is waiting for us, with open hearts and hands to help us make a new life once again.
* * *Please check out the photos that David has posted on facebook. He’s chronicled this trip quite well. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=225667&id=537144362&l=1c4c1d863c