Tuesday night a wind blew in the coldest air Houston has had in a while, though sadly not cold enough to frost. As the cold front rushed in, acorns rained on the roof over my bed from the Old Tree, a huge live oak in my back yard that I'd guess to be about 70 or 80 years old.
Wednesday morning arrived chilly and The Old Tree's leaves were crunching underfoot on the back patio as I headed out to take the Brother and the Youngest Sister to school. The sound and feel caused me to freeze for just a moment as I was transported across time and space by the power of colliding memories:
Eleven years old, I was standing under the giant pecan tree behind the little white pack house on my family farm back in North Carolina. All at once I smelled cured tobacco, pecan pie, and my grandfather’s Aqua Velva. There was a frost on the cut corn stalks in the field and I could hear myself laughing with my cousin over who could pee the highest up the pecan tree.
Simultaneously I was on a Thanksgiving day walk around the perimeter of the farm with my father and grandfather, rifles on our shoulders as we hunted for squirrels. Our feet rustled through the frost-burnt fallen leaves and I remembered feeling nearly giddy to be included on this very manly expedition.
As fast as the surge came, it went. But the smells, sounds, and sensations hung up in my brain and I violently missed home for the day.
The Hebrews of the Old Testament and today are called am haaretz, Hebrew for “people of the land.” My people are such people, called by some enigmatic and subterranean force to the farm we call "The Lewis Place." It's both the new and old Jerusalem in many regards, but for some reason I've spent my entire adult life exchanging the familiar for the foreign. Over the years I’ve missed that piece of North Carolina dirt and the people there, and that longing is the price I pay for my own wanderlust. Maybe it wouldn't feel so expensive a price to pay if we had more frost in Houston.