We had a great time visiting my mother and family and friends where I grew up in northeastern NC this past week. There were lots of long and short bike rides, a few very cold boat rides, a visit to the local museum, and oysters! Everytime I visit this “home”, I feel a deep longing. There is something about the big sky, large bodies of water, vast fields of crops, cypress and pine trees, even the brackish smell of the rivers and sulfurous smell of the swamp–that speaks to me. I miss the people in northeastern NC, too–they are kind and deeply Southern and tied to the land in apparent and obscure ways. There are things we cannot have in the mountains that I miss very much: real gardenias, yaupon, pecan trees, persimmon (Japanese) to name a few. And, when it is oyster season, I definitely sigh at the local bountiful seafood available at a reasonable price (something we do NOT have in the mountains). I love steamed oysters and my brother steamed a few bushels for his birthday while we were there.
My maternal grandfather’s family was from this area as far back as the 1650s. They were farmers there up until this last generation. There is a strong link to this landscape and the people. Sometimes I think I might be related to 1/3 of the county by blood or marriage. Even on this trip, my mother pointed out a house and said “our cousin lives there” and named someone I’d never heard of. I asked her how we were related and she said his grand father was my great grandmother’s cousin (or something like that). I love visiting.
And, I love where I live now–where William is from. I love my home, the people here, my in-laws, the community. And, I am always glad to get home.