Sunday, June 8, 2008

Christmas in June

"When I am in the country," he replied, "I never wish to leave it, and when I am in town it is pretty much the same. They have each their advantages, and I can be equally happy in either." Mr. Bingley, Pride and Prejudice

Since I've been neglecting my blogging duties of late, darling readers, you may be unaware that I flew home last weekend for my dad's baptism (more on that in a later post.) There's something about being home... not on a tropical island, not in Atlanta, not in Vegas, not anywhere else - just HOME - that is so very refreshing.

How do I love thee, Home? Let me count the ways:
one, flowers in the yard (just having a yard at all!);
two, fresh veggies from the garden;
three, Mom's crablegs and Dad's grilled masterpieces;
four, Guitar Hero;
five, Abundant Life Christian Fellowship;
six, bare feet;
seven, swimming pools and space shuttle launches;
eight, driving a car;
nine, sibling bonding time;
ten, boiled peanuts;
eleven, $6 movie tickets;
twelve, grandparents;
thirteen, family pets;

Early Saturday morning we took the obligatory garden tour around the premises. My dad is the Martha Stewart of former Southern Rock-banders, thus he always guides me around the yard to see the blueberries, satsumas, grapes, pond frog and giant koi, beans, peppers, squash and cucumbers. Oh, and don't let me forget the cherry tomatoes! Dad and I have this tradition of taking the first juicy red ripe tomatoes right off the vine, tapping them together in our own special little toast and eating them right after picking. YUM! My dad grows the best tomatoes, and Mom mails me tons every summer so I can share with my office-mates.

My favorite part about visiting home in June: Gardenias! By far my favorite homegrown flower, there's nothing so sweet as a Gardenia from our yard. When we moved into that house 11 or so years ago, there were just one or two small Gardenia bushes, but now Dad's green thumb has them blooming everywhere. They smell like my yard in Heaven (I presume!)

Usually when I go home, I plan the trip far in advance, but this time, I booked my flight late Tuesday night and was stepping off the plane in Jacksonville by midnight on Friday. Though I didn't see any of my pals due to the short visit, I was able to visit with my grandparents (now cruising in Alaska!), several aunts, uncles and cousins, and my four BFFs: Mom, Dad, Alex and Rachel.

Usually, I only enjoy home to this extent at Christmas... partly because I see all my friends and family and partly because I get presents. Perhaps this time was so great due to the more pleasant circumstances - last year's June trip was for Mom's brain surgery. Perhaps it was the feverishly hot weather - while steamy, it's always lovelier hot in Florida than in New York. Perhaps it was the slower pace, though I nearly strangled a Wal-Mart worker for being too slow, in both speech and movement. Whatever the reasons, I'm reminded in general how much I do love home despite it's 180 degree difference from life as I know it day-to-day. I'm glad I grew up there.

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