This greeting: How long are you home for? There is home and there is away. Away is where you might be working — putting in time or building a life (Brampton, Cambridge, Fort Mac) — and home is where you keep a special part of yourself, where you are waiting to go, even if it must be only for a little while when the fares are good.

(I admire the embedded hint that this is the only place you’ll want to call home, if you’ve any sense at all.)

The question enfolds me briefly and generously into the happiest part of the community’s emotional tide, the return after teary departure. It makes me feel fortunate.

(I admire the embedded hint that this is the only place you’ll want to call home, if you’ve any sense at all.)

Just before dawn, when I let the dog out, in her first unsettled days in the summer house, the night air smells, mysteriously, of cloves and flowers. Out on the road, where the wind skims forest that goes far past the dark horizon, it will smell like peppermint. Brisk off the bay, it will wake me up on sleepy afternoons.

There are a couple of days in late July when the midday light on the bay is silver. It just sheets down in a gorgeous metallic shine. The Tablelands above it are a grand russet sweep where other colours spend a little while. There will be soft purple shadows there this evening.

Up high the seamed and broken rock is still streaked with snow, which may be gone by the end of summer. I can hear the snowmelt swelling the brook behind the house. After a good hard rain it will roar.

Jeanie MacFarlane

Jeanie MacFarlane lives in Hamilton's Westdale Village, writing about books and other topics at thewestdaler.com and via @mywestdale, and about teaching, research and student achievements for McMaster University's Faculty of Social Sciences. She spends time each year in Winter House Brook where she does a few things behind the scenes during Writers at Woody Point, a festival of words and music.