It’s spring, finally, in northern Appalachia and the ephemerals are in bloom. I see these signs of spring when I go day hiking or when I’m out in my backyard. Trout lilies, trillium, violets, bloodwort, spring beauties, rue anemone.
A few days ago while out walking on a snowmobile trail, I was composing a letter to a friend, making sentences in my head, one word after another, one foot after another. I was telling my friend about how much I love it here. About how fortunate I was to find several nice, tick-free hiking spots within a fifteen minute drive from my house. I paused to consider the fact that I used the word house. I questioned if home was the more appropriate word. I’ve lived in my current residence for nearly three years, the longest I’ve lived in any one house my entire adult life.
But I knew down in the deepy downs, that no matter how long I stay here nor how embedded in the community I become, this will never be my home. It might sustain me, but it will never satisfy the longing to go back to my childhood home, to return to my spring.
I don’t even know what my childhood home is except for some idealized space where I am unconditionally loved, and the trees are green, and the aroma of fried chicken is in the air. As happened on a recent visit, those moments sometimes emerge, a tender spring bloom. It was a weeklong confluence that produced a state of being home. Sometimes I think of moving back to West Virginia, of being closer to all my kin, but I’m so afraid that my desire to be there will fade, like so many ephemerals of early spring.