I have a similar feeling about Illinois (where I grew up) in July. Everything is so green and alive and the smell of fresh cut grass is just everywhere. I immediately am taken back to my childhood and playing for hours outside. It's intoxicating and half the reason I love visiting home in the summer.
But there is something extra special about Alabama air to me.
I often consider with an intense level of seriousness how I can move down there because waking up to that every day could be enough for me. Everything else in life would just fall into place. Seems reasonable. It's only 4 hours south of where I am now. Why not? At my other Grandmother's home (down the road) the view is what draws me in. The view is simple really. Nothing fancy. No mountain tops or oceans. It's fields, long and lush green grass that is so green even the best Instagram filter couldn't compete. It's peaceful. Silent. Birds chirping. Grass blowing. We live in such a loud and noisy world I suspect I love it for the peacefulness. The long driveway is full of memories as a child. I look to my left and admire the empty piece of land where my Great Grandparents home used to be and dream of rebuilding it the same way for myself. I wonder if I can put a tiny home there and just come down on the weekends. To the right, fields that alternatley are filled with either gorgeous white cotton or peanuts. A fig tree that has been picked year after year. I feel immensely grounded and humble when I'm here.
Admiring all of my grandparents and my great-grandparents who are no longer there. Picturing my parents as children and what life was like for them in a different era. They had real responsibilities, even as young people. They understood and valued the work that went into providing for them. It was there in those homes and fields where they worked tirelessly to provide a life for the family. A type of hard work and hardship I'll likely never experience. I wish I could. For a day. A week. To know what it took to become the people they are or were.
While we visit I love flipping through old pictures and scrap books. I especially love old photos where no one is smiling. It was as if they just needed documentation or else it took a long time and smiles faded. I admire the time it took to carefully put these albums and memories together (always reminding myself to do the same). My Papaw can tell me with an acute accuracy where & when almost every photo was taken. Who is in the photo. How old they were. What was happening at the time. It's amazing. He has a cabinet of perfectly organized albums. Each grandchild has a dedicated album which always made me feel rather special. As I look through my Grandmother's pictures I find one of her and my Granddaddy dolled up before a Sunday drive and long for such a simple date and to where hats like that on the regular. She informs me with a gleam in her eye that what I can't see is that her hat, shoes, and gloves were red.
Perhaps it was a better time. Less complicated. Folks did things for the pure joy of creating their own happiness, not to show others how happy they were. They worked hard. Very hard. They made food that they mostly grew or raised themselves. They had faith. Attended church. Yes. I do think that must have been a good time to live. I believe it's why the concept of a simple life is so intriguing to me now. I see that these people who are important to me are the best I'll ever know.