Under the Open Sky: Searching for Home, Finding a Sustainable Happiness

By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle

It has happened to all of us. That moment when you hear a voice or a song or get a nose full of a smell or walk into a place and suddenly a blanket of comfort drifts over you and wraps around you, making you put a hand to your heart and close your eyes while you inhale a slow, deep breath and think to yourself,

“Home. This feels like Home.”

It’s that capitol “H” home. Home that rests in your bones, that calls to your DNA and slows the beating of your heart while it tingles the synapses in your brain and sends out signals to the ends of your fingers and the tips of your toes that this — this place, this moment in time — is where Home beckons and calls and where Happiness resides.

I remember the first time I came to understand Home. My mother, my children and I went to Highland Clan Gathering in Enumclaw. We parked our car and then emptied the wagon of stroller, diaper bags and children, gathered hands and made speeches about staying together and set off into the pasture to see all things Scottish.

I watched as my mother’s head tilted to the side as her ears picked up the sound of drum and bagpipe, a smile curved her lips while her hand flew up to her heart. I didn’t know it at the time, but those were all sure signs of Home.

She told me later that she could almost feel the blood of her Scottish heritage calling to her when she stepped onto the field.

Home for me is the sound of a preacher with a Southern drawl. Home is the dense, moist texture and the tart tingle of a lemon pound cake when it hits the tongue on the first bite. Home is a rolling green hill with larger tree-covered hills behind it and mountains beyond that — hills that call to me and push me to do more than wonder, but to rise up and head out to find out what’s over that next hill and the next and the next beyond that.

Some search their whole lives for Home and never find it. Some, like me, are lucky enough have it in their own backyard, but don’t always appreciate it.
Lewis County is full of Home for me.

Lakes, rivers, ponds, fir trees, maple trees, blackberry bushes and long fields filled with long grasses waving in the wind. The corner market where even on the bleakest of days the woman behind the counter knows me well enough to ask how my dog is doing with her allergies and if I’m enjoying my work and I can trust that I will be welcome there and will be able to gripe or rejoice along with someone about the weather, the cost of milk and the state of the economy.

I talked to a local farmer on Saturday at the Boistfort Valley Spring Festival who told me that 30 years ago she couldn’t wait to get out of the valley and into the world. She graduated from the local high school and she was so anxious to get out of town that her feet couldn’t move fast enough to suit her.

Today she runs a 200-acre farm next door to the school that she wanted so badly to leave behind in the dust of a quick exit. She clearly understands the irony of it all. The fact she was willing to laugh at herself and her own misunderstanding of the importance of Home was charming.

I didn’t know her before she came back Home, but I’m willing to bet that when she didn’t know Home, long before she found it again, her skin didn’t glow with the radiance and beauty that only comes with the sustainable happiness of Home.

Her smile and energy reflected the beauty — the unrivaled beauty, I believe — of the Boistfort Valley.
“Sustainable” is a popular term that has become so overused as to render it nearly meaningless. It’s used to sell everything from energy-saving appliances to toilet paper.

Sustainable Happiness is a relatively new term on the market, another new way to grab your money and hand you back a hat full of horse manure.
“Ten New Ways to Conquer Stress.” “How to Meditate Your Way to Health and Happiness.” “Eight Quick Steps to a Fulfilling Life and a Sustainable Happiness.”

Really?

If you tried to sell that malarkey to my great-grandmother I believe she would have said, “Do your chores, be nice to your brother and go outside and play.”
That sounds like good advice — and Home — to me.
•••
Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer who enjoys watching and photographing the wildlife in her own backyard in Cinebar. Contact her via email at kz@tds.net.