Home is…?

What’s home mean to you?

I have always been of the mind that home is where you are living at the moment. However, I wonder if that sort of thinking is restrictive to the word. After a few decades of living, home is now taking on a much broader and deeper meaning to me.

For the last few years, it was my honor to assist newly arriving Karen refugees get settled in this country. The stories they told me of their past lives would make your toes curl and I emphasized greatly with them. Why empathy? Because I can’t literally relate to the horrors these people have gone through in their lives. I feel for them.

One of the activities I was able to help the Karen with was applying for and the receiving of U. S. citizenship. The office in which I worked closed about 18 months ago and a for months after that I was still helping people with their resettlement matters. One day a young lady asked me to help her with her citizenship forms.

We completed the forms and we parted ways. I hadn’t heard from her for awhile and suddenly I now received a message that she was granted U.S. citizenship. I was extremely happy for her. She thanked me profusely for helping her and wished me well — her joy was palatable.

I welcomed her and she replied by saying this: “Now, I have a home.”

So, how do we define home? Is it a physical place, a mental picture, a spiritual embrace or is it very simple an idea?

And, when you reach your definition of the word, is it based on shelter, rest, a place to recuperate or a place of peace?

It never ceases to amaze me how wine always flows into my thoughts — no matter the subject I’m pondering at the moment. Here’s what I mean…

Grapes for wine making have definite homes because the grape gathers its distinctive personality from its home — or, as the French say, from it terroir.

A Cabernet Sauvignon grape likes somewhere with warm breezes and a little coolness at night. It wants a long growing season with rolling, richly soiled hills so it can mature into a luscious and sweet full bodied grape. From that grape comes the wonderful beverage I’ve enjoyed for a long time.

That type of environment is home to a Cabernet Sauvignon grape.

On the other hand, a Riesling grape wants its home to something much different.

For a Riesling to feel at home, it wants a rather steep, gravelly and mineral filled hillside. It wants to fight to get through the grainy ground to reach the nutrients it needs to produce the fast growing grape that will give the wine that is filled with minerality and crispness. It wants cool nights and not much daytime heat and it wants to be picked early in the season.

That type of environment is home to a Riesling grape.

Another popular wine is a Chardonnay and it’s very adaptable. It likes a warmer climate and the result will be a richer citrus tasting beverage with lower acidity. This type of chardonnay wants a home that is warmer and gentler — like parts of California.

However, there’s another chardonnay that likes a cooler place to grow and the result will be a tart and very aromatic wine. It loves the land near bodies of water so the cooling breezes of the water chills them. For the chardonnay, the soil composition isn’t as important as the locale of the vineyard.

That type of environment is home for a chardonnay grape.

Each wine grape has its favorite home place and it’s from that home place, it brings the tastes and memories of its home to us.

When I go by my old family farm I feel a pang of something but I’m not sure what to call that pang. Is it a sense of loss, a sense of thankfulness, a spiritual connection to the land and my family? I’m not sure but it’s there. Yet, there’s more to it — I carry that sense of home with me everywhere I’ve been calling home over the years.

Because it seems home is truly where the heart is — even for a wine grape.

As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon.



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