There are some people that make you feel like you are home. Regardless of distance, or time since you were last together, or even how long it’s been since you’ve talked. Home, you see, is not a house, it’s not a building, nor the scent as you walk in the door. It’s not even familiar sounds. Home is the way the people that love us make us feel. Some people, are just… home.
Wether its family or friends, if we’re lucky we find the people (or have them thrust upon us at birth) that will always take us there. They keep the home fires burning whilst we are away, wether its 14km or 14,000km.
It’s been 2 months since I last saw my parents. It was the Sunday before I flew to Utah and between jet lag and weeks of interstate work trips, it just hasn’t worked out to see them sooner. Don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of phone calls, video chats and text messages, but I was in the US for my birthday and Mother’s Day and interstate for Mum’s birthday. Despite my absence the love still flowed. It was palpable, even from a distance.
So, Sunday was put aside to visit my very patient and long suffering parents. There was much catching up to do and much food to be eaten, after all a visit to Mum and Dad’s isn’t a visit without food. We drove the 45 minutes to the farm and as we pulled into the driveway we immediately noticed smoke billowing on the right. I watched as flames rose whilst we continued towards the house and was greeted by the sound of 2 crackling fires as I left the car. Now that winter was here it was time to clear the farm and burn the offcuts from the previous year. Yet somehow it was like they had set these fires just for me, as if to welcome me back. No, we don’t have some fire burning welcome ritual in my family, but these fires, they drew me in.
We wandered inside and were greeted with many hugs and huge smiles. All hands on deck to prepare lunch and set the table. followed by much conversation and many stories being exchanged. It was an unusual visit, Mum & Dad’s place is normally filled with family ranging across more than 70 years, but today, there was a serenity about the visit that whilst irregular, suited the day perfectly and matched my mood to a tee. Time moved slowly, mayhaps because it was a long weekend, mayhaps because there was no pressure to rush to the next location.
Wanders around the garden lead to lighting two more fires, yes, all the correct precautions had been taken and the fire brigade had been notified. Two more piles of branches and boughs, of clippings and cuttings. They lit easily, being old piles that had dried over many months, and the flames burnt hot. We could feel the heat from meters away, not that that stopped me from moving closer to add more leaves or dried grass. It was unbearably hot (think instant tan) and yes I burnt myself grabbing some twigs from the edge of one of the piles. I just can’t help myself, I must have been burnt at the stake as a witch in a previous life. Thank goodness for Aloe Vera plants I say. I just didn’t see the embers glow as I reached down, and that’s the thing, the embers burn unseen in the ash. They can burn for days and weeks unnoticed.
Those embers that we can’t see or feel, those embers that burn long and deep keep us going during the tough times and during the absences. They stay aglow, untended, whilst we go about our lives, until we can return to those we love, until we can return home. We reload the kindling and wood and watch the flames rise higher. The waves of warmth embrace us as and the sound of the crackling timbers fills our ears. The scent washes over us, clinging as only smoke can, until we can no we can no longer detect it. And then, when it’s time to depart, we are cloaked in it and we take a little piece of home with us.
I remain ever grateful that there are people keeping the home fires burning for me and for whom I will always tend the embers and stoke the fires, regardless of time and distance. In the word’s of Billy Joel :
“If I travel all my life
And I never get stop and settle down
Long as I have you by my side
There's a roof above and good walls all around
You're my castle, you're my cabin
And my instant pleasure dome
I need you in my house
'Cause you're my home
You're my home”