In the summer, my home is bursting with life. The hedges grow out, obscuring the roads, and the grasses grow tall. Before I started to suffer from hayfever, I would lie in the long cool grass and pretend to swim in it. I would hide from my parents and the merciless sun above (when it deigned to make an appearance at all). Still I become petulant when these things are sheared back, mown, put in "order". To me, it ruins the wild beauty all around that I love so.
In the winter, it is a different place. But it is beautiful all the same. Just different. It becomes bare and skeletal. All those abundant trees shake off their leaves and leave dancing limbs behind. The place is alive with noise rather than life; wind whistles through the emptiness and rain beats against the hard earth. Those same grasses grow lower and allow great sweeping views across starkly lovely landscapes, the peaks of Wicklow off in the distance. Though the sunsets come too soon, they stain the sky the most wonderful colours and the cool air is the sweetest and freshest I've ever known. I walk these paths and roads, ones I've walked thousands of times. I cycle with my parents. I laugh with my brother and sister. I chase after my ageing dog. I look around and, twenty-three years on, it is the most beautiful place I have ever known. I love my home and everything in it. It's not the stifling place that the nearby town where I went to school is - it's the place that bred me. It made that earlier version of me that knew nothing of unkindness or troubles and merely explored and questioned and adventured and tried. It was the giant garden of my youth and the haven of my teen years. And, now, it is my respite from adult life. It reflects who I am. I see myself in the wildness, in the empty ache and in the life-filled joy.
I look around and I feel it in my heart, a sense of belonging so precious I know myself privileged to have it. I can see the love in the home I now spend less time in. But I know that it will remain my home forever more none the less.