I think this quote from T.S. Eliot fits perfectly when I think about ‚home‘, or more precisely, ‚Heimat‘. Because ‚home‘ can be everywhere I have lived for some time, home is my flat, the town I am living in right now. Home is the place I come back to after work. But ‚Heimat‘ is the place I was born, the town or village I grew up in. It is the place where my family is rooted, where I learned how to live my life. It was where I saw my first tree, heard my first bird, learned how to walk, how to swim, how to ride a bicycle. And since my family has been living in this village since forever, I have a very deep emotional connection with the place I call ‚Heimat‘. Which of course does not mean that I don’t feel at home in Berlin. But the connection can never be that strong.
From time to time I take the train back home and spend a weekend with my family. And every visit is like a small holiday because there is no noise at night, it is absolutely quiet. The air is fresh and there are fields, forests and a big lake surrounding us. I always meet people on the street I have known for ages. You cannot take a single short walk without bumping into someone you know. Some might find that overwhelming, I enjoy it (most of the time). For a few days it’s nice not to be an anonymous person in a crowd of 3.5 million people.
Another positive thing about returning home occasionally is that you see familiar places from a different, fresh perspective. What had been boring and stifling when growing up (‚why am I stuck in the middle of nowhere‘ – teenager logic) is now liberating. Places are familiar, bring back long forgotten or cherished memories.
Needless to say I had to get on a train when the weather report promised a week of very low, below zero, temperatures. Because every other year, the freezes up and you can go ice skating. Sadly that wasn’t the case two weeks ago but in the end it didn’t really matter. Instead I spent the entire weekend being outside taking pictures, recharging my batteries so to say.
Should you ever feel the need to escape busy city life, I recommend visiting the Steinhuder Meer. In summer it offers you a beach, sailing boats, kite surfing and wind surfing. In winter the total quiet and maybe ice skating. The area is not hilly and is perfect for cycling.