Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Home body

I've been browsing through Nancy Mitford's The Water Beetle which is a collection of articles. She has one called "The Tourist." She asks, "Why do hundreds of thousands of human beings feel impelled to leave comfortable establishments for the certain misery of the voyage and the uncertain amenities of the arrival, not to speak of danger to life and limb?" She replies to her own question: "The answer is that the modern dwelling is comfortable, convenient, and clean, but it is not a home. Now that people live on shelves, perched between earth and sky, with nowhere to sit out of doors, no garden where they can plant a flower or pick a herb, they are driven on to the road for their holidays. All human beings need some aesthetic nourishment and the inhabitants of ugly towns form the bulk of the tourist trade."

That may or may not be statistically provable, but it spoke to me. I love to stay home. I love vacation days where I don't have anywhere to go. And it's because where I live, I can sit out of doors, plant a flower, and pick a herb. Just one of the reasons I wanted a house, not a condo.

It's also a family trait. I once was at a family reunion where one in-law remarked to another, "You must not be a Kok because you like to go places." So I took an informal poll among my cousins and found that a significant proportion of us do indeed prefer staying home to going almost anywhere. I seem to recall that my mom once read an article that said this quality was common among the people of the province of Drenthe, the Netherlands, where the Kok family originated, so that it took a strong motivation (poverty, one assumes) to take them from their homes to the New World.

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