There is something about the Bay area, south of Houston, that will always be with me. I rarely visit a place twice in my travels, but I’d come back to this one again and again.

It’s the heat — the first hint of fall down here is the warmth of full summer up north. It’s laid-back, bluesy tunes on the radio and a drawled greeting from our Good Sir Knight. The sight of fields of scrubland and pasture intermingling with urban sprawl, out the window of a truck whose incongruous snow tires hum on the roads. It’s the glimmer of the bay, bright blue and going on to forever and ever, amen.

It’s the warm, calm atmosphere created by our Good Sir Knight’s gracious lady. The feel of being at home. And the deafening sound of the Great Dane and her minions when we pull into the driveway. (The Dane, whose proper name is Rebecca of Schooleybrook Farm, is affectionately and colloquially known to me as The Horse, or lately, Coconuts.)

And it’s a little blue flower on a low-growing bush — something that can only be a houseplant in Canada — that’s reflected on my windowsill far away north.

We sit up late, talk theology, watch a movie, talk about perfect storytelling. I fit in here. I even have a number: Among the family of four, I’m assigned 3.5. There’s a hilarious running joke to it that doesn’t fit on this page.

I am spoiled in all manner of small but deep ways. An alternate route through the downtown just to see the skyscrapers at night. My choice of places to sleep and family to visit with. A morning swim in a warm pool with a waterfall and palm fronds hanging down from the huge tree overhead. And time. I am given so much time.

It’s the feel of everything good and gentle and honourable. I have to move on, now, but it hurts a little to leave. You never know if or when I’ll be back. You just never know. But it has made its way into my heart as only my northland ever has.

This is my southern realm, forever and ever, amen.