Yes, that’s Gary saying “Hi” from Flag City, where he’s settled in for a season or two. This picture goes to show a couple things. First, folks in Findlay, Ohio really do plant flag-colored flower beds in their front yards. Second, if you insist on jumping into the frame while a blogger is snapping a picture, you will get blogged, guaranteed.

And as for me, I’m safely returned to Keene after having weathered the 700-mile drive from Ohio to New Hampshire yesterday. Back in my cozy apartment, I feel as comfy as a nesting finch curled inside a basket-woven nest. (Click on the picture for an enlarged version.) As much as I enjoyed this weekend’s quick trip to see Gary in Findlay, including a day-trip to Toledo to visit the finches and other animals at the Toledo Zoo, it always feels great to come home. Although my frequent road-tripping seems to suggest otherwise, I really am a homebody at heart, always breathing an inner sigh of relief when I pull into my own driveway and wearily collapse into my own bed. Perhaps this is part of why I particularly like birds: no matter how far they might migrate, when nesting time comes, birds return to their home territory as predictable as clockwork.

Today’s task is to play catch-up from a weekend away. That means I have online discussion boards to check, email to read, and a pile of weekend mail to sort through. Later this morning, I’ll teach my classes at Keene State, and it will feel as though I never left, the stream of time closing around me as seamless as skin. No matter how often or how far you wander, home is always the same when you return, the usual chores and to-dos there to greet you. Today, I’ll teach and catch-up online; tomorrow, I’ll grade and do laundry. With so predictable a ritual, I might as well be a bird migrating and then nesting, nesting and then migrating. There’s no place like home, “home” being defined as much by the chores we do there as by anything else.