In my life, I have done very little traveling, and what traveling I have done has been mostly by car, up and down the East Coast. And though I want to see and taste and feel so much more of the world than that and am sure I have yet to see the most amazingly beautiful place I'll ever see, one of my favorite places in all of life is in the mountains in Centre County, Pennsylvania. For the first 20-some years of my life, my grandparents had a home up in those hills, and 150 acres of land to boot, with horses, pastures, gardens, and lots of open space to run and play. Those mountains were where I went to escape from the stresses of home life, to be myself, to sing at the top of my lungs while running through green fields, and to sit at the feet of my amazing grandparents whose wisdom and kindness refreshed and nurtured my little-kid heart.
Both of my grandparents are gone (grandpa in '97, grandma in '03), but those mountains still calm my blood whenever I see them, even from a distance. The winding roads bring back so many memories of summer afternoons on the way to a lake for a swim and picnic. The little farm houses tucked up on a hill might contain some distant cousin...some little old lady who has my grandmother's eyes. There's family there, still, both living and passed on. The little church down the hill from my grandparents' former house is a historical site in Pennsylvania, my grandmother having led the charge to restore the building when she was in her 70s (yes, the woman was up on scaffolding from early morning until the sun set each day, doing much of the work herself!). And next to the church is a cemetary in which those dear souls were laid to rest. It is appropriate, I think, that the mountains hold them now. So many salt-of-the-earth folks returning to the dust from which they came. It is the dust that I, too, hope to make my final resting place someday.
So, while I do not now, nor may I ever have a house or apartment in those Pennsylvania mountains, the hills and valleys hold some of my sweetest memories, my songs, my tears, my heart, much of my very childhood. And for that, they will always feel like home to me.
I am participating in Reverb Broads December 2012 writing project. Today's prompt: What is your favorite place in the world? What makes it so special? (via Kate)