No matter how far we may travel throughout the year, every one of us has a home of which we are in constant orbit until we return to the safety of its surface. For me, it is the rolling hills of my family farm in Hopewell, and my mind is instinctively at ease entering its grounds. These lilting fields remain as they’ve been every November, neatly tucked like a chartreuse and amber quilt, waiting to secure me.
Strolling towards the barn, the narrow asphalt path is damp after an afternoon storm, creating small splashes with each step. Every inch of the property is alive. I am greeted by a pair of gregarious goats, leading me on a familiar tour of their pasture. Continuing down the line, I run into our two horses, Lady Rebecca and Nobel. Their cinnamon and raven-colored coats blend perfectly with the myriad of other earth tones saturating the trees and fields around me.
Fences and foliage line my peripheral vision in a familiar and calming precession. I am fascinated every time I walk through these paths that they still manage to inspire wonder and awe in the surrounding beauty after all these years. Some days the reasons are more obvious than others, and today, I am rewarded with a spectacular rainbow arcing above the trees.
Perhaps nothing highlights the contrast of changing locations greater than our sense of smell. It acts as an environmental measure, and its effects can be invisible, lying in wait until pushing immediately to the forefront of our senses. Places we’ve never been sting in the nose with unique aromas, but the longer they linger the less we notice them, and this effect compounds in our homes and common haunts.
This makes our noses powerful vehicles with the ability to transport us across time and space in an instant. The scent of a childhood food, a certain wood burning, or flowers on a breeze can unlock the brain’s inner doors, opening our memories and flinging us back into lost worlds. I can be on the other side of the planet, and the earthy, almost sweet smell of horses and livestock will immediately place me back here in this barn.
Every culture has a special feast day, and they are a symbol of our extended families, generosity, and togetherness. As similar as the dishes on all family tables can be, each is still completely unique through our specific traditions and triumphs. No sweet potato pie smells quite the same. Each potluck plate may contain a family recipe perfected over generations, or something entirely new being ventured into the fold. This creates an aroma that is familiar, but always slightly altered by another year’s refinement and whims.
On Thanksgiving Day, I become entranced by the warm comfort of family and the shared routine of the holidays. Going out into town that day one will find closed shops and quiet streets, the population shifted together and gathered into homes buzzing loud and lively. I find myself greatly anticipating this year’s holiday season, no longer stunted by the remnants of the pandemic. The cozy magic of my beautiful home and the open space that surrounds are a perfect reflection of the spirit of Hopewell and the unsung wild places in New Jersey.
Thanks for reading,