“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort”

Jane Austen

We have a vacation home in the mountains of Colorado and my daughter has been living there during the pandemic. Well, the fires got a little too close, so she packed up and moved to our home in Omaha. She marveled that I had remained as calm as I did during the process. The pictures on the news of the huge flames edging closer and closer to our home and the exit roads being eliminated one by one were very scary. I told her I trusted her judgment and knew she would make the right choices at the right time. (It was the winds I didn’t trust).

I realized I would be upset if our vacation house burned but not to the degree I would be if our home in Omaha was destroyed. Much has been written about the difference between house and home, but I think the difference is even starker during the pandemic.

Yes, I would miss my “things”:

  The photographs,

  the baby clothes in the cedar chest,

  the artwork collected over a lifetime,

  my grandmother’s china,

  my daughter’s freshly-cleaned wedding dress

All of these can’t be replaced.

But spending months in my home has awakened me to its specialness. It’s not its architecture or appearance. It looks a lot like others on our street. It doesn’t have a huge history for me. We moved here a few years ago because its location, one level, and exterior maintenance made it attractive for this stage of our lives.

The back of our house is entirely windows that open up to a secluded backyard that changes dramatically with the seasons and is teeming with life and drama that I never noticed before. I feed the birds and have even named them: the dove couple are Bogie and Bacall. The three sets of cardinal couples act like an extended family sitcom. Spring brings peonies; summer it’s the tea roses and ivy covering the terrace. And we do have our share of wildlife (in the middle of the city). Sadie has cornered raccoons and a possum took up residence in my gas grill. There was a bunny family. I say “was” because yesterday, a coyote was chasing a bunny across our terrace. I hope you escaped dear “Peter.”

We went into isolation at the end of February so I’ve seen three complete seasons from my window. Awaiting the fourth. We have a line of extremely tall fir trees that edge the back of the property standing at attention in all sorts of weather. Over the years I have noticed how beautiful they are in the snow. This year, I’m sure I’ll discover nuances that have escaped me in the past. A quote I like is “How you see determines what you see.” During this forced isolation, I have learned how to see in whole new ways.  Sometimes seeing in new ways allows you to discover new talents or interests and see what’s possible in the future.  

Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark

Pierce Brown