Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Finding Home

On the wall, an oil painting by my friend, painter Nancy Nichols-Pethick.

What I know of home is a shelf bowing beneath the weight of books, rose hips left to dry in a vase, postcards leaned above the fireplace.  Home is jam jars keeping treasures safe: nutmeg, buttons, paper fortunes.

I thumb through catalogs before I toss them into the blue bin.  "Home," the say again and again, sporting flea market knockoffs for ten times the price of the beauty to be found on a country Sunday.

What I know of home is as warm and slow as sunlight arcing through the afternoon across worn wooden floors.  

It is gatherings of the found and the made, 

worn reminders of someone else's story, someone else's time and place.  

Talismans and touchstones guide us through our days.  The doorknob we've turned a thousand times, the old brass latch, the window sash, the stack of mismatched plates.  

Home is in the wind's rush high above when I open the damper to light a fire; it's in the rumble, hiss, and clank of radiators coming to life as if the house were about to launch into space; and it's there in a shared laugh in the kitchen over a terrible joke we'd never tell another soul. 

Where we live, home is five months of glances out windows, waiting for the first crocus, the first sign of any little bit of green--even as we treasure the cold, if it means another fire on the hearth, another cup of tea.

What I know of home are choices.  Small things, like where to keep the linens or which drawer will hold the batteries, paper clips, and rubber bands.  Quarrels over what's for dinner--who's in the mood for fish or risotto or tacos or greens.  And big questions, too, about how we will use each room to share sunlight, food, moonlight, and friendship.

Mostly I find home when I forget all about catalogs and design and what we do or do not own.  Or more accurately, home finds me in those moments when all that matters in the world is a good sentence in a favorite book or when my arms and legs are sore from digging in the garden (during those seven snow-free months) or shoveling snow (during the other five).  I can arrange and rearrange the furniture--which I have done and will always do--but I know that no matter where the sofa goes, home is in the living. 

Where do you find home--or where does it find you?


  1. Oh, I love that: Home is in the living. Your photos are so lovely. Thank you for the glimpses into your life.

  2. Beautiful images of home.
    I find home in the other Portland, looking out the window as the birds and squirrels scamper about, a warm fire in the fireplace, dreaming of sunshine days sitting in my yard or garden house.

  3. My sentiments exactly, but certainly not in language I could have come up with myself. Thanks for describing your (and my) love of home and hearth and simple little pleasures so beautifully!

  4. I love your vivid description of home and I too feel the same way, Gigi. Home to me also is wherever my loved ones are, as long as they are by my side I am at home. I love reading your beautiful words they warm my heart so! Much love to you, sweet friend! xxoo

  5. An apt evocation of home..special "treasures", special people, special memories.

  6. Your pictures are so beautiful! I love the way you look at life. You're so contemplative and you really capture the essence of the moment. I find home on the stage. It's the one place I feel like I really belong. Thank you for all your beautiful images!

  7. I love these shots of your home, so inviting. So unpretentious and warm.
    I'm all about surrounding yourself with things you love. That's it. If you don't love it, pass it on to someone who will.

    That marmalade jar, I had one years ago. I used it for pens!

  8. I love this post, Gigi! I've been thinking a lot about how home is also in all the signs of life in the space we inhabit: Griffin's ubiquitous socks beneath the couch, the dog toys underfoot in the kitchen, the dining table that is invisible beneath laundry and craft projects. (This is part of my effort to embrace my lack of tidiness, too!)

  9. I love thid glimpse into the home of your heart and soul...Home to me is quite is the little things that are ofimportance...that and memories.

  10. mmm... mostly in the steamy kitchen smells, and potted plants that light up when the sun streams in. love your collection of what-makes-home here - it is beautiful.

  11. Such beautiful vignettes! And so much to think about, and miss. I grew up in an old home with glass doorknobs, and I miss them very much.
    For me, home will always mean collections of lovely stones and shells, pieces of the past, and photographs and books everywhere. The rest is inconsequential, except maybe some comfy slippers and soft scarves :)

  12. Oh so lovely, Gigi, and so relevant for me as I begin to pack up our home. Something I am unfathomably nervous about. But this post gives me a lovely, warm glow of hope. We'll be fine. Wherever we end up. It will be home. Thank you! xxx

  13. Such beautiful thoughts of what home means to you. Comforting words.

    Being a homebody, having a solid sense of place and belonging is deeply meaningful to me. While I do not own my own home, I adore my cozy little nest, placed here upon a ridge with quiet views of the ocean below. I have nightmares sometimes that I have to leave this place for another... some awful empty ugly house that doesn't feel like home at all... and when I wake from these dreams I could almost kiss the walls, I am so grateful. I think these types of dreams occur more than any other repeating theme... I think it tells me how important it is to me to have a place that really truly feels like home.

  14. I find I must answer this question in an entire post. Look for it sometime next week. Thank you for this marvelous inspiration. Just now, I am dreaming of someday sharing a steaming mug of cocoa in your home in front of your fire.


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