Monday, October 24, 2011

Coming Home Again

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

-T.S. Eliot “Little Gidding”

Growing up, my parents took us up to Weston, Missouri, each October. We picked pumpkins and looked at the animals at Red Bard Farm and spent the day at Westbend State Park, which sits above the bluffs above the Missouri River.

The trail at the park is a three mile loop; my brother and I rode our bikes around while Mom and Dad walked. Sometimes, if we were feeling particularly strong, David and I would ride around again and catch them up from behind.

This year we took Harriet with us for a second time. Last year she was just a tiny baby, and Devin carried her around the trail in a sling.

This year she isn’t a baby anymore, but though this loss of baby-dom at times makes me unutterably sad, it was delightful to watch her interact with her surroundings with her boundless toddler energy and insatiable curiosity.

For me, going up to Weston is always a lesson in memory and nostalgia, and taking my child to my old haunts adds yet another layer to my experience of the place. This year, as I looked over the bluffs and down the river, the forested landscape pristine, turning gold, I thought about our childhood bike-trip around the Westbend Loop.

Now, I thought, I’ve really come full circle. I have caught my parents up from behind: I have become a mother myself. I’m bound to watch my daughter experience these places that are mine.

There is something rich about moving back to the place where you grew up. Richness and a strange kind of sorrow in watching a new child in your old place. Sorrow because you know you can’t be that child again. Sorrow because your daughter’s childhood is—though *yours* in one sense—in another sense completely inaccessible. Hers.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am so glad to be home, biding here in these familiar parts. Home, I find, is not the dull wasteland I feared it might be. Your house is, after all, your castle and your hometown a country of terrible beauty.


  1. Sarah, love the pics of Devin and your adorable daughter - hope you're doing well. I had to laugh, a couple of weekends ago was homecoming and I was thinking of my first few days at Wheaton and I remembered my first day, you were one of only a very few people I recognized that first day and I think I was trying to wave at you on my way back to the dorm and I dropped everything...great moments in the life of Adam. Anyway, it looks like you are all doing well, great blog!

  2. this is lovely. and how is it that Hattie has such fantastic posture and looks so very comfortable on that little pony? it looks like she is ready to ride!_Ali

  3. Also, I'm with you. You don't need a professional photographer. LOOK AT HATTIE ON THE PONY. That's priceless. Your family photo shoot from the hood of your car at the 4th of July was awesome too.