Life outdoors: A sense of place

Life outdoors: A sense of place

by Ariana Rector

While I was living in Northern Ireland for a semester, people often asked what I missed the most about Tennessee, expecting biscuits, country music and beer. While I love biscuits, beer and some country music, I didn’t explicitly miss them or anything else for that matter. So for a while I gave them no answer; I had none. Gradually though, I felt a dull ache for my home develop, a desire for that sense of belonging. However I still couldn’t place it; I felt welcomed and at peace in my host city of Belfast.

“What do you miss the most?”

“I don’t know.”

Neighboring our on-campus residence halls in Jordanstown, a beautiful natural formation towered over us dubbed Cave Hill, though it looked more like a small mountain. I spent a month or so admiring it from afar until one of the locals informed me that you could climb it. Trails were scattered all over the surface of the young mountain, and one day my friend and I decided on a whim to brave it. It was September and the weather had already turned sour, so we bundled up and set out.

Upon entering the woods at the base of the Hill I felt an immediate sense of relief. Being surrounded by trees and earth was something I didn’t realize I missed so much until I returned to it.

It took us about an hour and a half to reach the peak, largely because we kept finding reasons to tromp off the trail and explore. We climbed everywhere we could,
and we couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful it was. There’s something about the landscape of Ireland that just makes you ache. I realized, while I was up there, that it was the same ache I felt for my home. The landscape envelopes you, pulls you in. From the peak of Cave Hill, we could see the city, the Irish Sea, the Mourne Mountains, Croagh Patrick (Where Saint

Patrick resided in his youth), and far off across the water you can sometimes see Scotland. I felt like I could see all of Ireland from up there.

That day, more than anything, returned me to my home; feeling the land and the air and the water eased the pain of missing Tennessee and gave me a place to feel like I really belonged.

That was my home away from home.

“What do you miss the most?”


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