Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Home, Sweet Home

I woke up in my own bed this morning, with the cool spring air redolent with the sweet odor of black locust blossoms, which are just now popping open here in northeast Missouri. It's one of only two local flowering trees that I unabashedly enjoy the scent of (the other is wild plum), and I'm glad I didn't miss it. (For more on my love affair with black locusts, see my May 21, 2008 blog, Bloomin' & Perfumin'.)

Yesterday morning I was inbound from Louisiana, chugging north on Amtrak's City of New Orleans, and the last stop before Chicago was in suburban Homewood. I laughed when I saw that the city's water tower had been intentionally emblazoned with the slogan, "Home, Sweet Homewood."
I've always had a weak spot for wordplay, and here was a whole town that was willing to pay homage to whimsy in the municipal budget! In addition to playing off of a timeless cross-stitch catch phrase, it's evocative of Robert Johnson's famous blues tune, Sweet Home Chicago (it was first made popular by Eric Clapton, and then featured as one of the songs in the 1980 Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi cult hit musical, The Blues Brothers), which is all the more potent for me as the lyrics are about coming back home, and suburban Chicago is my home—or used to be, before I settled at Sandhill Farm in 1974.

Of course, as an inveterate train traveler, I'm always going home to Chicago (whether Thomas Wolfe thinks that's possible or not), as this country only operates a skeleton intercity train system these days and there's only a single way (three times a week on the Sunset Limited) to cross the Mississippi River that doesn't go through Chicago. Luckily for me, I cherish layovers in the Windy City, with its showcase 20th Century architecture, major league music and museums, and as an exemplar of the unpretentious salt-of-the-earth Midwestern ethos. This melting pot city brags of having a Polish population second only to that of Warsaw. This is at once the city that Carl Sandburg celebrated as "hog butcher for the world" and currently boasts one of the finest collection of French Impressionist paintings in the world at The Art Institute on Michigan Ave. All together, Chicago is where I come from.

Saturday night, after a Cajun grilled dinner in Natchitoches LA (think andouille sausage and the lesser known but no less prized boudin) my Green Eggs group (see my blog of May 2, An Ill Wind for Louisiana) settled into our host's living room to watch a movie. What was on TV? Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, and Candice Bergen in Sweet Home Alabama.

Apparently, sweet homes, like a number of things, tend to come in threes.

I have a week to enjoy my Sandhill home—sandwiched around our 36th anniversary party this Saturday—before I embark on my longest road trip of the year. I'll be gone 41 days, working at least two gigs in every time zone except the one I live in. Ufda. Mindful of what's to come, I'm happy to anticipate how much fonder my heart is about to grow by savoring my sweet home now.

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