The plumber finished reconfiguring the pipes and connecting the new sink on Friday. After months of doing dishes in the utility sink in the laundry room, the kitchen of my dreams is almost finished. It’s not a model you would find in “Architectural Digest Magazine” but one you might see in “Country Sampler.” My eldest daughter asked what inspired my design and I told her about the summer kitchen at my grandparents’ home in the country. Their wood burning kitchen stove/oven made the dining room and kitchen cozy and warm with the aroma of pot roast and pies and homemade bread in the winter. But day after day of temperatures in the 90’s and humidity nearly the same in Missouri in the summer, wood stove cooking was a torture. So all cooking and baking was done on the smaller wood stove in the attached screened in porch to keep the inside kitchen and dining room relatively comfortable. My grandparents died before my daughters were born, so they never knew the country place. Nevertheless, when I told her about the summer kitchen, my daughter was astounded. “That has always been the kitchen of my dreams! It feels like it’s in my bones!” she said.
And of course she is absolutely right. Not only do our ancestors give us our blue eyes just like grandma’s and our laugh like Aunt Wilma’s, our passion for gardening or cooking and our love of piano music or animals comes along as part of the genetic package. We have an innate sense of rightness of the environment, the paint colors of the rooms, the furniture placement. The food cooked in this kitchen gives us comfort, the view through the front window soothes and inspires us. Diana Butler Bass, in her book “Grounded” tells of inadvertently finding the exact place where her ancestors began their life in America. Diana had an internal feeling of belonging when she stumbled upon a tiny church at the end of a dirt road in rural Maryland. The Book of Records in this Quaker meeting house bore the names of her ancestors, married here in 1678.
Even when we don’t know much about our origins or when we cannot trace far back to discover our roots, we somehow know when we feel at home. We often recreate that which gives us a sense of belonging. It may be that a geographic location calls to us, or the design of a house like the one I’m living in now, or the scent of flowers in the garden, the rush of the nearby river, that tugs at a memory. It is all of this and more that makes for home. The people we love and those who love us, the stories we are creating and the memories we share with those living and stories about those who have passed out of our lives, create the generous environment that is home. This is where we return again and again to know who we are. And here we may receive a blessing such as the one spoken by my dear friend -
“When I am with you, no matter where you live, I feel at home.”
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