In Oklahoma there were no gutters on the eaves. The rain poured down the roofline and in sheets made deep trenches into the hard, red mud. The grass only sometimes grew over the trench, but when it did, we would forget the dip and twist our ankles as we stepped from the porch.
The mud turned to dust and remained dust most of the year. That dust would blow in through minuscule cracks or wide open doors (dust and flies would find a way in together); the dust would coat the mahogany piano, the white leather of the couches, and the rows of children’s books shelved against the wall.
We had off-white stick-on tiles for a floor, standard military issue (easy to replace). The dust would turn back to dirt and become a gray wash on the tiles. Our footprints would show, and spots from dripping popsicles, and the roller tracks from the wheels of the desk chair. After awhile the tiles would feel like a chalkboard to our feet, and my husband would wet down the mop.
The shine of the washed floor would then compliment the sun-filled windows. Each morning I squinted my eyes and stood against the panes. Yellow and white curtains would billow above me, and we’d rush to plug in the twinkling lights, which always lent the feeling of a good, good start to a day.
The colors blended for me, in this house of ours. The deep oranges, bright yellows, dark reds, silver steel, comforting grays, cheerful teals, medium grain oak. These were the colors of the life we lived. They offered contrast to the stark white walls and were the colors of toys and pillows and counters and dishes and the one plant on the bookcase that just wouldn’t die; they were the colors of pictures and maps and tea sets and the children’s mess of shoes. I drank these colors deep inside.
These were the same as the colors of the wildflowers on our Oklahoma plains. But this Spring, the third Spring, the flowers didn’t bloom. I looked outside and saw the prairie drying up. This Spring the dust from Texas turned the sky orange until we tasted it on our tongues. The trees selected carefully the branches they would nurture, and let the weaker limbs succumb to drought. I saw the dead branches swinging like death knells from the trees behind our fence. I worried about tornados. I hopped carefully over the trench in the backyard.
Yet this was home. It certainly hadn’t felt like home when we got here, nor had it felt like it when we stayed. But when we left and returned and we walked in the door, the house seemed to be cheerily calling, “hallo! I’ve been waiting for you! I’m part of you! You belong here! This is home!”
Our bags dropped to the floor. Shakily, I placed a toe on the dust-swept tiles and placed a heart on the wind-swept prairies. I then breathed from the Spirit, took the hand of my husband, caught the eyes of my children, and settled in.