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Hampton Court Grounds

My culture has always been so frightfully American. When I think of my childhood I think of fried chicken, corn on the cob and a side of mashed potatoes. I think of baseball and mowing the lawn. While none of this is a bad thing, I just never felt quite at home in my American culture. I was never a banner waver or shouting USA at things. That isn’t me.

Many of the family members I now have through marriage have a strong Italian heritage and I think about how I wish I had that strong sense of self as a kid. I wish I had a culture that I could point to and say that is me. Those are my people.

My partner and I have traveled quite a bit over the years and I have found that many of the places we have been are ripe with culture, food, customs and language. There is almost a heartbeat that everyone shares and a feeling of sameness that is just overwhelmingly comforting to me. Like a secret hand shake between friends.

This year we traveled twice to the UK. Once to London, Norwich and Ireland then again to London and Sussex. Every time my feet hit the ground in Great Britain I am home. Small towns, kind and simple people doing right by their neighbors and just appreciating what they had. Nothing fancy…nothing flashy…just a warm fire and a cup of tea. I feel like I belong here. I may not understand the sayings or the funny words they use for things but ultimately I feel at home. I belong.

When I was a kid I used to walk on our farm by myself a lot. I used to wonder through the woods and fields with my dog and see what I would see. Sometimes I would end up down by one of our creeks with my shoes off or sometimes I would be climbing a fallen tree like a natural jungle gym. Outside is mostly where you would find me until the lightning bugs came out or dinner was ready…whichever came first.

Now my life consists of computers, cell phones, files, errands and to do lists. I get lost in it all sometimes. I find myself yearning for a walk in the woods or the rough feeling of tree bark on my clothes. I forget that I was a farm kid. I forget that outside is where I belong…even in the rain.

One of the things I love most about the UK is that it is beautiful even in the rain and that beauty makes you want to be out in the elements regardless of how cold or wet it might be. It begs you to walk it’s streets and wonder through it’s country side. It invites you to stay awhile and “tuck in” to a good warm meal. It reminds me of how I would play on our land no matter the weather. I would only wear clothes that I could get dirty and my knees were more often skinned than not. When the only thing calling me inside was a warm meal and the chance to tell my story of what I did that day.

It reminds me to stop…put down my things…and be thankful for the moment I am in and the things I have seen. It reminds me to go out and have little adventures again.

I’m calling this image Hampton Court Grounds.

Beauty even in the rain.

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