What does it mean to have a homely house?
In America, it usually means something or someone (usually a someone) of plain or unattractive appearance. But in Tolkien’s The Hobbit, it means a place that’s cozy or comfortable, a place that has the comforts of a home. And now, a year after moving my stuff, ten months after moving me, I can say that I’m starting to have a sense of being home.
It’s a number of things that contribute to that sense. We held a housewarming party here in December, even though I wasn’t fully on residence yet. There’s the book group that’s discussing Iamblichus. There’s the office-studio where I make quilts and costumes. There’s been the occasional lunch when friends drop by during their adventures elsewhere. There the magic that I’m working in the neighborhood, in terms of learning local plants and animals (we can hear coywolves howling in the hills in the twilight at times). There is this little fire circle where we’re celebrating Guy Fawkes’ defeat the other night.
It’s not all good stuff. There’s the lawn I mow, the leaves I rake, the yard I scour for twigs for kindling for this fire and the stove. There’s the wood I have to buy, haul and stack. There’s the garbage I have to drag to the dump in my car. There’s the dogs that bark at me during my walks around the neighborhood. There’s the basement that occasionally floods.
But in many ways, this is becoming the homely house where I want to live. It’s not all the way there, no. But it’s home.