1. Everyone was there when we arrived! Brothers, sisters-in-law, cousins and grandparents all gave us a hero's welcome, or perhaps I should say a new baby's welcome. The noisiness of family gatherings is a sweet noise.
2. My mom's tears when she held her great granddaughter for the first time, cheek to cheek.
3. Shopping! Oh happy day! The stores actually have choices of things to try on. I just knew I could find a little black dress in New York. And I didn't see any camouflage except on some camo-covered chocolates.
4. The bird song is different here. I swear these are the same birds, singing the same notes as when I was a child. Do bird's offspring return to their home place generation after generation? Maybe so, because these birds sound identical to the birds from thirty years ago.
5. My sister laughs at my stories. She "gets" me.
6. Mom's kitchen is exactly the same as when it was built in 1952. Same red Formica countertop, same cabinets, same basic cooking utensils, still looking good as new. She was an excellent cook in her day and she can still turn out the best sauce or stew in a minimalist kitchen. No fancy pots or knives, no Cuisinart or Le Creuset. Just good, Italian cooking with fresh ingredients in a plain pot.
5. She gave me her enameled roasting pan which she received from her uncle as a wedding gift in 1947. Yes, still good as new.
6. Mari "talks" constantly. She has inflections in her voice, punctuated with tiny laughter. She does this on her own, even if no one is talking with her.
7. Pizza. Need I say more?
8. It takes two minutes to run to the store for something.
9. It takes 11 1/2 hours with baby to make the usual 10 hour drive. But she has been the best little trooper, always a smile for us and bringing joy wherever she goes.
10. Virginia is so green and lush! The mountains are breathtakingly beautiful and they boost my spirits during the final two hours drive with an urgency to return home. Home to Virginia.
11. My first sight upon waking Saturday morning to a sound at 5 am. was my daughter, dressed in her camo, going turkey hunting. I'm home : )