I can get homesick for a memory, not a place.

Does that sound strange?

Homesickness is fairly rare for me anymore. It happens mostly in spring, when I know that North Carolina is turning green and blossoming while Colorado is still buried under a winter shroud.

But sometimes, it is triggered by a visual, like it was this morning. The bus stopped at one of its usual stops on Hwy. 287, and across the street, a Mo-Po-Po (translation: a police officer on a really cool Harley) was giving some poor guy a ticket, which was not a good way to start his day. At the edge of the small hill on that side of the street is a small pond (more of a giant puddle) and at the edge of the puddle are cattails.

My Mother loved cattails, so I loved cattails.  Their brown velvet casings are so soft, and the down that emerges from them is like a blessing, an indicator that it is time for this lovely thing to move on to its next phase of life (or death).

I remember at Topsail, towards the North end of the island at the curve just before the big bridge, stopping at the side of the road for my Mother to burrow into the marsh and cut cattails to take home. They would live for a long time, dried in an old bronze-toned vase with dragons etched and curling up its sides.

I think I have that vase somewhere.

And at Buxton, where a walk on the Maritime Forest Nature Trail in the chill of a beachside March dusk would yield cold fingers and runny noses, she would see cattails, but never disturb them, as the Nature Trail was a protected area.  (Though she would snitch a few leaves from the Bay Laurel tree to ensure she had enough to carry her through the year.)

The sight of cattails this morning made me homesick.

We are going home very soon, to a different beach house for this one year, which will be good but strange, and we will start some new traditions, and welcome MKL into some old ones.  And I will drive by the curve in the road where the cattails live, and remember.

Image aptly entitled “Fuzzy Corn Dog on a Stick” by Vagabond Shutterbug from www.flickr.com