I stocked up on all my son’s favorite foods—pretzels and Canadian bacon. As it is the season, I cooked another favored meal: a corned beef and cabbage dinner. I made Irish soda bread and bought a tiramisu.

 Sam, a junior at Syracuse University, is on spring break. But he is not in Florida or the Caribbean where certainly spring has already sprung, but here, at home, on the muddy, rutted and winter-scarred roads of French Woods.

 This year, as the editor and chief of The Daily Orange—Syracuse University’s independent student newspaper—Sam would not be able to go on any lighthearted vacation, even if he wanted to.

As it is, Sam, who seems to be as relentless as the news itself, has set up camp on our living room couch to attend to the continuing day-to-day operations of the paper, fielding calls and reading through stories as he does multiple times before they are published.

Sometimes he has to drive to Hancock to check his text messages, as service is spotty here. We can get reception out in the middle of the hayfield in front of our house which, of course, is not always the most accessible area in winter. According to my daughter, Lily, the spot is right about where the wild thyme grows. In summer, we can smell the crushed thyme under our feet before we can distinguish it in the grasses.

 This is the kind of detail that makes a home a home. In my family’s nearly 180-year existence on this land, I wonder how long the thyme has been growing there and how many generations have noticed its fragrant scent on the wind.

 In his spare time, Sam has done all of the customary activities of homecoming—visiting the high school, driving his sister to lessons and home from play practice. He has helped with the daily operations of the house. And he has been working at organizing his internship at The Tampa Bay Times this summer. (I am sure he will get some beach time in down there.)

Few of his old school friends have been home this week, so he has spent much of his time alone, driving the back roads and riding along the reservoirs. Perhaps it is a bit boring, but he says it has been great to get a break from classes as well as the constant needs and questions of running the paper, even for a little while.

It has been wonderful to have Sam home and to have everyone present at dinnertime, a feat which is increasingly difficult to manage even when everyone is here. It has been a time of comfort and rest. These are the things it seems we are all most in need of in our hurtling, fast-paced world.


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