“There is nothing half as pleasant as coming home again.” – Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Too true. As much as I loved my three-week jaunt in Portugal, it’s wonderful to be home. We didn’t even miss early spring—a gorgeous time of year here in Virginia when the redbuds bloom and the deciduous trees push out their new leaves in the most hopeful shade of green. As soon as we got home, I headed out to the garden. I was pleased to see that all the seeds I had planted (radishes, peas, turnips, green onions, beets, potatoes) had emerged and we had a few spears of asparagus as a welcome home treat.

So, it’s lovely to be home, to see the first wild violets and wood anemones and to smell the ground warming, but I wouldn’t appreciate it as much had I not left. (Plus, we missed some very cold weather, but I’ll try not to bring that up again.) We travel to experience something new, of course, but we also travel to remind ourselves of how much is the same the world over. One of my favorite memories from a trip to Morocco, for instance, was seeing little girls on their way to school. They reminded me so much of my own daughters, my heart ached.

In Portugal, much of the 250 miles we hiked was along the coast—spectacular!—but one of my favorite sights wherever we go is always other people’s gardens. I’m so curious to see what they plant and how the garden is designed.

Every single garden we saw contained fava beans. I had no idea the Portuguese were such fans! I don’t how they prepare them since they weren’t yet in season but favas are definitely a spring staple. Aren’t they pretty?

We also saw a lot of peas and potatoes, just like at home. It’s such a simple, mundane connection—common homegrown vegetables—but it made me miss my garden less and I felt more connected to the land I was walking through. Plus, the wildflowers were incredible!

What surprised you on a recent trip? And do you love fava beans like the Portuguese or did Silence of the Lambs wreck that for you?

Until next time then. Oh, and here’s that beautiful coast I mentioned. Put Portugal on your list!

About Sonja

Sonja Yoerg grew up in Stowe, Vermont where she financed her college education by waitressing at the Trapp Family Lodge. She earned a Ph.D. in biological psychology from the University of California, Berkeley and wrote a nonfiction book about animal intelligence, Clever as a Fox. Sonja is the author of four novels: House Broken, Middle of Somewhere, All the Best People, and the upcoming True Places. When she’s not traipsing around the world with her husband, Sonja can be found in her garden overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.