Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Homeplace Is Where the Heart Is

There are many words for the concept of  "domicile,"  the place one calls their permanent--or even, semi-permanent--locale.  I've enjoyed many types of homes over the years.  They include a 52-foot sailboat which MM and I lived on for three years; a Volkswagon "Combi" van which we called home for several months in Australia as we camped down Queensland's coast in the years when Cairns was still a good and wild place. In fact, we owned a house in Stratford, Australia, for seven months where we enjoyed the benefits of a garden planted by an elderly couple. We lived in a little grainery right here, JOTOLR for several years as we worked all week long so we could return "home" on weekends.  An old Pontiac station wagon was home for us during our 36,000 mile meander of this incredible country called the United States.  And now....home is the two story, porch-encircled homeplace that MM built from the ground up. 

Our rich vocabulary has a whole collection of words for naming the place we live, and each has its own resonance. 

A "dwelling,"  for example, seems to be more accidental, less intentioned, something that is more hammer-and-nail or circumstance than choice, somehow held at arms' length.

A "residence" smacks of officialdom, of numbered categorization, something the government needs in order to keep track of its citizenry. 

The word "abode" is just too stuffy.

"The farm" confers a sense of old-fashionedness, quaintness, and returning to "the farm" implies a return to the old-timey values that fed our spiritual --as well as our physical selves.
The word "home" is a gentle word that conveys peacefulness, safety, security, even rest.  Then there are the words that describe the building such as "house" and "apartment."  These are more "construction"terms than "heart" terms.

The word "homestead" --for me--carries an embedded snippet of adventure.  It's not as restful as "home," but more on the order of setting out, seeking, discovering, and after all is said and done, having wrought from the earth a hard-earned living space. 

Put the word "down" in front of home, and the combination implies a connectedness and a longing to return.

 My favorite among all the choices is the word "homeplace."  I'd never heard the term until I came East in the early 1970's. In this word resides the love of generations, of family,  passing things on.  I can smell the bower of roses over the doorway, the cookies in the oven, see the blooms from flowers planted generations ago.  The welcome mat is out, the hearth is still there regardless of how long I've been gone.  This word--homeplace-- beckons with arms wide.  It has an unconditional lock on the heart, never lets go.  Homeplace is where the heart is.   


  1. In that case my home is outside in the garden. I'm not comfortable indoors unless there are views of the outside and plenty of light. My eyes are forever looking through the glass to the outside world. Mind you I'm not so keen on being cold and wet so there are times when inside is good too.

  2. Elora -- a very well thought out post. I use the word "homestead" to describe my place. To me this name fulfills several meanings which I define as home and also where the wild ones and open spaces are found. So my interpretation of homestead is an all encompassing word. But I do like the word homeplace to describe home. I would like to use that word but feel I am not entitled as I really don't have roots here -- generations of family that is. Interesting to mull over -- this idea of what to call home. Oh Elora -- you have opened up a whole array of meanings for "home." Semantics can be a maze sometimes.

    Your different homes over the years is
    intriguing -- love the gypsy life style!

    -- barbara

  3. What interesting homes you've had through the years! Homestead for me conjures up feelings of it being a safe retreat from the world, a place that supports and nurtures physically and mentally and a gathering place for all generations. I guess that's the name our family has always used and therefore represents a big old wooden house surrounded by huge gardens, 1700 acres of farmland and steep hills, a connnection to previous generations and a place that we can all gather together and call home where our roots are deep in the land.

  4. Wonder what that bird calls her home? What a great picture, I'm trying to figure out where it is!

    I think of homeplace as a generational term – property which has been passed down through the family. I suppose our home qualifies, but it just doesn't "feel" like a homeplace to me. Nor a homestead. Perhaps being brought up kind of rootless (my dad was in the military) is inhibiting my sense of place and permanence.

    Homeplace implies a rural location, and yours is perfect. I love being there; it's home not just for you and MM, but for your four-legged and winged family, as well!

  5. We moved quite often in the course of our nearly 46 years of marriage, so my children were used to the packing up and unpacking and settling in process. After my oldest daughter had married and left home someone asked her how it felt to go "home" to a house she never lived in (she had commented that she was going home for Christmas). Her reply - "home is wherever my Mama's stuff is because wherever she is her stuff is there and usually in the very same place it was in the last house!" The continuity of my "stuff" gave her the feeling of home and all my kids still feel that way. Don't you just love that! blessings, marlene