Bett Norris


A Sense of Place


I spent the day throwing up. Eat, take a pain pill, throw up. Repeat.

Not a nice image, but there it is. What has throwing up got to do with a sense of place?

We have spent the last three months waiting to close the deal on our new house. The title agent got so frustrated recently that she quit. Our real estate agent called to say that the title agent resumed her position in this complicated process, and that we should close soon. Soon, that’s what they have been telling us for the past two months now.

We have been renting the house. We already live in the house we are trying to buy. Sandy and I love it. We both felt an immediate sense of place, of belonging, when we saw the enormous oak in the back yard, the shop, and of course the house itself. It is open, airy, full of light. 

The sights and sounds and smells of living in the country bring back memories of my childhood. The complete darkness when night falls, the calls of the birds and insects.  We spend a lot of time outdoors now. When we lived in the city, we stayed inside.

This return to country living was a deliberate choice, and it satisfies something I didn’t know I missed. What do we want to do, where do we want to be, when we retire? We talked and brainstormed and fantasized about it, and what I wanted was to return to the things I grew up with. The trees, the dirt, the air, all remind me of the places where I grew up in Alabama. I want to be a kid again, and that is what we are doing.

The field behind our property was planted in peanuts during the summer, and we watched them harvest. They turned the cows into the harvested field, and we took pleasure in sitting and watching them every evening. Then they planted winter hay, so we miss the cows.

We have an acre here. The front yard is big enough to play football. It has lovely sycamores. But the back yard is where we live. We have a fire pit, and we build fires and have coffee on weekend mornings. We make fires at night too, and sit gazing into the flames, and come inside smelling of wood smoke.

It feels like home to us. While the closing process and been long and tangled and scary, we haven’t really felt the amount of stress that normally would accompany it. We have relaxed into this place like we lived here before, a long time ago, when we were children, listening for the giant owl, watching the stars and the moon and the fireflies, breathing in the night air, debating whether to put another log on the fire, counting the wild turkeys when they appear, and feeling better than we have in years.

The throwing up doesn’t count. That is due to arthritis in my neck causing a pinched nerve or something. The pain is almost unbearable. I see specialist next week, but I have no idea what the doctor will recommend.

We are looking forward to Christmas this year. I want to put lights in one of the evergreen trees out front. Not the tiny white lights, the big colored lights I remember.

Which brings up this reminder: books make great Christmas gifts. Easy to wrap. And if you are like me, you can read tyhem before you give them away. Just a thought.

I recommend you buy directly from the publisher if you can’t find what you want in the local bookstores.

If ebooks are your preference, you can get those too at Bywater Books, or download them from amazon or Barnes & Noble.

I hope you don’t mind the self promotion. I have a new house to pay for.


2 responses to “A Sense of Place

  1. Sally Bellerose December 7, 2012 at 5:28 am

    Congrats on owning your home. Your backyard sounds like a haven. I am looking out at my own yard full of oak, maple, princess pine, bear, and and granite boulders and enjoying the view all the more for having read your words. Happy holidayd.


  2. ElaineB December 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    You’ve done what I want to do–move out of the city. Sigh. Good luck with the closing and your neck!


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