Home. It's a poignant word isn't it? Conjuring up so many thoughts, memories, emotions.
These days I live in New Zealand. I have done, on and off, for 18 years, and yet I'm still not quite ready to call it home. Sometimes I think I'm ready. I mean, I do really love it here - my life is here and yet...
I'm grating carrots. It's November and another gloriously sunny day outside. I'm idly listening to music on Spotify, humming along, feeling content. And then a song comes on and - bam - I'm a bawling mess! And as I listen to the Welsh lyrics flow over me I close my eyes and immediately I'm wandering the valleys of my childhood again; the misty rain gently falling, the earth damp and smelling so delicious. trees greenly vibrant, lichen covered stone walls dissecting fields of close cropped grass, craggy cliffs high above me, tumbling rivers of mountain-cold water, so clear, so alive. And the yearning for home is so strong - I miss it so much - that my heart physically hurts.
In Welsh we call this feeling hiraeth - that yearning pull for the land - for our homeland. And you can describe the word in English but using the word hiraeth is so very much more profound. It has a pull to it, a depth, that the word homesick can never quite reach.
One of the things I miss
about Wales is the freedom to walk the land. In New Zealand you are restricted by fences, barriers, ownership, boundaries. In Wales, sure, we have these things, but there is an agreement that it's ok to walk across someone's field, to swim in a river if you can bear the cold, to climb a tree, a mountain, a valley, and that there is no need, unlike in New Zealand, to stick to a particular route or track.
Maybe it's this I pine for the most. The meandering. No tracks; no walkways; no information panels to keep me in my head space. Just a directionless wandering through fields and trees allowing my feet and heart to lead the way. To walk and to breathe. To listen and to be. Wholly heartfelt. Mindful. Free. And home.