My wife, Dee, and I recently returned from a trip to Bellingham, Wash., and Vancouver, British Columbia. This trip was wonderful for many reasons, and it reminded me of how much I enjoy living in Merion Village.

My wife, Dee, and I recently returned from a trip to Bellingham, Wash., and Vancouver, British Columbia. This trip was wonderful for many reasons, and it reminded me of how much I enjoy living in Merion Village.

The Pacific Northwest is beautiful. I had never been there before. It has stunning mountains and water, nature at her best.

Bellingham is a charming small city with many thriving local businesses and cool repurposed buildings. It is bursting with creativity. Vancouver is a visually stunning large city that celebrates its diversity and has many wonderful parks and gardens and locally owned restaurants. The quality of life in these two cities is tremendous.

Back home, as I drove around running some errands, I was reminded about the beauty, character and diversity of my own neighborhood. Driving from my house, down Hanford and Jaeger streets, past independently owned, thriving restaurants on Thurman Avenue and past Schiller Park's great trees to Giant Eagle, even at night, is a visual treat. Getting reacquainted with home, looking at our own houses, historic schools, parks and gardens, I found myself saying, "Home is good, too." No, we don't have the water and mountains of Vancouver, but we do have a lot of our own unique charm.

Merion Village has special places, including Moeller Park and neighboring Schiller Park, and a bigger park neighbor, a former brownfield that now celebrates nature and recreation: the young and growing Scioto Audubon Metro Park.

Merion Village has special people, too. Catching up recently with Sunday's Dispatch, I saw the wonderful and much-deserved recognition of Merion Village residents Elton Wilson and Carl Eckart, who are celebrating an amazing 50 years together. Congratulations, Elton and Carl!

As I write this, I am looking at a proof of our new poster for our 12th annual Merion Village Garden Tour on July 10 and a video of 2010 garden tour highlights on our website, and I am reminded about how lucky I am to live here.

I love our garden tour. I always get new gardening ideas and enjoy gabbing with our neighbors and visitors. Our garden tour, as always, is free and open to all. We have many beautiful gardens this year and we will have local food from Merion Village's Coyote Jane's and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, as well as Carla Saunders' Three Babes and a Baker cupcake truck. We're not Vancouver, but we're not bad, either.

Merion Village is a cool place. We have our own history, diversity, character and beautiful gardens. It is a good thing to take a fresh look at why we live here. I loved our trip, but I'm glad we are home.

Bob Leighty is a south Columbus community activist, president of the Merion Village Association and president of the board of directors for the South Side Learning and Development Center. He also is in charge of training offered by the Economic and Community Development Institute.