Wednesday, August 14, 2013

At home in both Montana, California, with nature's bounty to welcome

What is home? Two places capture the hearts of our traveling team

Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

For the two of us, home isn't a place. It is a person. -- Stephanie Perkins

 A contented seal enjoys Southern California beach life.

IF HOME IS where the heart is, then my home and heart are mobile.
Home is, for me, deeply connected to trees, water and sunsets. Gorgeous sunsets on the California coast and over the rocky cliffs of the Beartooth Mountains.
I need to be surrounded by favorite people, the natural world and "my stuff" -- paintings, books, pianos, gardens, bird feeders, theater Playbills. A couple favorite cooking pots.  A tea strainer.  A pair of porcelain coffee mugs made by my potter brothers. A photo of my mother playing violin -- I have that in both homes.
HOME IS knowing my way around a
The feeders are attracting a mix of bright birds.
kitchen and locating the ginger, dill and green tea.  Or hanging the finch and hummingbird feeders and having a my first customers buzz my head and dip for a snack before I get back inside the house.
HOME IS the sweet song of birds, the sheen on the Rimrocks north of Billings, the looming San Diego skyline, the storybook Oceanside harbor up the coast.
Home means egrets in the sand, eagles in the pines. And trees. Here in California, the palms, Torrey Pines and eucalyptus form a comfort zone.
IN MONTANA it's the aspen and pines.
Both places have distinct smells -- musky earth from recent rain and my garden marigolds in Montana, salty sea air and the patio orchids in California.
The trees and Mediterranean brush of southern California.
But always trees.  Without these, I'd be rootless!
Herman Hesse loved the rustle of trees, "when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts."  He felt that trees have "long thoughts," and that because they generally live longer than we do, "they are wiser than we are."
Home also has to do with a feeling of safety. For me, the beauty of the natural world has long calmed me, producing a sense of
The picturesque Oceanside Harbor welcomes the writer home, from another home in beloved Montana.
security and absence of anxiety.
Ultimately, the feeling of being "home" and "at home" is an amalgam of emotions, comforts and connections dating back to our infancy.
Being greeted by a loved one -- partner, sibling, parent -- also signals "home."
FAMILIAR SIGHTS -- for me, the mountains and ocean -- welcome me, make me feel grounded, safe and comforted.  The sea and hills welcome me and confirm that I'm home.
I'm lucky to have two places that make me feel happy and connected to nature.
Cookie and Keller enjoy a sail up the California coast her first day back.
Home is the wide open spaces of Montana, surrounded by aspen and fir, meadowlarks and robins, in the shadow of the Beartooths.
Home is also a favorite beach, for a barefoot stroll beneath the palms. On the Oceanside shore of Southern California, dolphins and whales vie for attention -- and osprey nest in the light poles.
RATHER THAN looking for deer, antelope and bears, I'm sailing past sunning seals and into the Pacific.
Both places offer abundant delights from the natural world -- daily doses of extraordinary beauty.
The first few days of "being home" are always rewarding, whether I'm coming or going, whether my destination is California or Montana.
A stop at Queen Califia's Magical Garden spells "home" in California.
MY AUGUST BIRTHDAY revels are fully underway, with parties and presents in Montana, then more awaiting my arrival  in San Diego.
I'm taking only a few days for this California visit, to connect with friends, partake of a favorite Jazzercise class, go sailing and take in a few plays and concerts.
This week's line-up includes a Lyle Lovett concert tonight at Humphreys By the Bay, a beloved venue right on the ocean, which we'll feature in next Saturday's posting.
There's a play Friday, "In the Heights," downtown at the Lyceum, in Horton Plaza. An opportunity to view one of the prettiest skylines in the country.
 San Diego's palm trees and skyline also say "home".  
And there is time for a sunset at our favorite cocktail and appetizer spot, La Jolla Shores.
A QUICK TRIP to Harrah's Rincon Resort and Casino restores my gambler's soul and, for a change, I leave a few dollars ahead.
Time, too, for a picnic at Queen Califia's Magical Garden, that enticing artful sculpture circle in Escondido's Kit Carson Park.
HOW LUCKY we are to have multiple places in which we feel comfortable.
When I'm back in Montana in a few days, home will be cattle and deer, the Stillwater River, rafters instead of surfers, birds of the northern Rockies, Montana fir trees.
THE GYPSY in me loves travel -- mulling over brochures to choose a new destination or return to a favorite place.
But home will always be two distinct and different places -- the wilds of Montana and the beaches and hills of southern California.  Here, in these two places tied together forever in my heart, I come and go -- leaving home and coming home, content whichever direction I'm going!

Lyle Lovett is one of
Cookie's favorite singers.
COMING SOON:  A sold-out concert by gifted singer songwriter Lyle Lovett is one of the enticements at Humphreys Concerts By the Bay, for Birthday Girl Cookie.  Humphreys is a popular seaside performance venue which lured the writer "home" to San Diego from her rural Montana writing studio. Plus we'll look at Montana theater, Egypt's changes and Brazil.
Remember to explore, learn and live
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