Those who know me well, know that I’m from a place I fondly call: “My Beloved, Virginia.” I miss Virginia so much that at times my heart aches. There are so many things engraved on my soul that I long for each day and miss even more with each day that passes, as I’m away. I miss Virginia when the daffodils tease, as they reach for the sun through the snow begging for Spring to join them in their early blooms. Then as the snow finally melts away and the grass begins to share it’s lovely carpet of green climbing up through the mud left behind by that melting snow — with a promise that life will begin anew — the dogwoods start budding and the cardinals return to build their nests and prepare to raise their young.
As Spring marches forward, the hot lazy days of summer come in and families start gathering for reunions to meet the newest members of the family and treasure, once again, time with those who joined years ago. I remember running and playing with cousins who were as close to me as brothers and sisters and all the fun we had playing in the fields and cooling off in the lake at the end of a hot summer day, which never ended without us running through the dark with mason jars collecting fire flies to light our way home. There was always a bottomless glass of iced tea, watermelon picked straight from the garden and Pappaw threatening to chew our ears off, as we squealed with glee, and Mammaw pretending to be worried that he might actually succeed. How I long for one more summer to spend my time between Grandma’s house and Pappaw and Mammaw’s house where I was promised to be spoiled with all the pure, Virginia love that could be given.
When the sun set and summer finally gave into the cooler weather of fall, the leaves began to turn every color of red, yellow, umber and finally brown as they let loose of the trees so that we could gather them into what seemed like giant mountains. We would spend hours raking and then what seemed like seconds to enjoy diving, jumping and hiding beneath them. With the final motivation from Momma and Daddy, telling us it was time to clean them up, we raked as hard as we could to the ditch so Daddy could burn them. I remember the smell and the flecks of ash as it floated away with a final “goodbye.” Suddenly, it seemed, as if magically, Thanksgiving would come and oh, how grateful we truly were to grow up in a place that assured us of love.
With the smell of the turkey fading away and the fragrance of pine and cinnamon filling the air, Christmas was ushered in to give us the gift of Redemption and Salvation born of a virgin, Mary, found lying in a manger, in a little town so far from a place named after another virgin, Elizabeth, than our little minds could fathom. We bowed are hearts and praised God for those gifts. The snow fell and we found once again we had come full circle in my beloved Virginia.
When someone asks where I’m from, my thoughts with a lifetime of memories saunter through my mind much like the James River saunters through my homeland and I proudly say, “my home is Virginia.” For me, Virginia means home. Another Virginian felt the same way and he described home this way:
“At night across the mountains when darkness falls, and the winds sweep down out of the hollows, the wild things with their shiny eyes come to the edge of the clearing. At such an hour, the house seems safe and warm. An island of light and love in a sea of darkness. At such an hour the word home must have come into being. Dreamed up by some creature that never knew a home. In his yearning there must have come to mind the vision of a mother’s face, a father’s deep voice, the aroma of fresh baked bread, sunshine in a window, the muted sounds of rain on a roof, the sigh of death, the cry of a new born babe and voices calling good night. Home ~ an island, a refuge, a haven of love.” Earl Hamner
Yes, my home is Virginia and there for me are those precious memories of a haven of love.