Autumn Nest


I’m here in the quiet, the music of silence filling the room—a melody that only fresh fallen snow and silver dollar-sized snow flakes afford. Solitude is a gift that I’ve learned to receive and even desire. Cierra, whose company I so yearn for and grieve when she is gone, came home all at once after 14 months. Her agenda comes as a shock, pressing in and flowing over mine. I can’t say no and she expects that. She graciously accepts a postponed answer, but only for a little while.

Her to do list demands not only her attention, but mine too. She hears I love you in my availability, like her daddy. She is easy to laugh and dream and play with too. I worry about her future when life gets heavy and she is responsible for others.

After being home for what seems only a restless few days, she is off to see friends and to hang with her brother on the Pacific Coast: So Cal, Hawaii, and Seattle for three weeks. I take a deep breath. I’m a little envious of her life cadence; oh the freedom of youth.

I slide down into a deep hot bath, while the windows steam and I can no longer make out the fluffy bits swirling like miniature magic carpets from the low grey sky. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were working in the yard, trimming back lavender, late blooming daisies, and iris leaves? The strawberry leaves painted deep orange-red now.  The ivy too. I danced in the fluttering rain of golden apple leaves amongst burning bushes so bright red they carry a pink hue.

Is this a stolen paradise? Am I living in a fantasy until the prison guards come and lock me to the chain gang headed to the stone quarry? Am I wrong for accepting each new day’s mercies as a gift from God rather than another day in debtors’ prison? James seems to think so. Is it my romantic approach to living that keeps him tethered to his own frustration and lack of joy?

I’d like to say soap bubbles come up to my chin, but this morning I’m soaking in a salt bath: Dead Sea salt and minerals and lavender. My residual pain is complicated, but mostly manageable. The bath often helps, but does little to quell the chronic pain in my lower back, neck and shoulders today. My period finally started after being as postponed as my agenda with the arrival of our twenty-two year old back home. She changes even my cycle.

We were empty-nesters. Sad ones, destitute of fresh ideas and laughter, but now here we are. What do we call this? One of our little boomerang birds have returned just long enough to wring our hearts reminding us of how impossible we can be. We couldn’t have an easier adult child with whom to figure this out. Cierra is amazing, sweet, even if a bit forceful with the grocery budget, and upset with me for how disorganized the pantry cupboard still is.

The sun pushes through the heavy snow cloud. The snow flakes are smaller now and the sun offers a flirty smile. Seems too soon for this reverie to end. Am I selfish for taking a time outs such as this, tucked away in warmth and “ease” while James must wrestle children through mud and wet and cold? Fighting them, fighting the weather, fighting life.

I stand and release the stopper. Bath water swirls down the drain. The clear water, showers over my head, sluicing away residual salt and sullied thoughts, shampoo suds slide down my breasts, tummy, my leg, extended toe. Droplets of water from make tiny circles, rain on a miniature lake.

Because we don’t have kids or housemates at this very moment, I enjoy the luxury of wrapping my head in a towel and shrugging into my fluffy robe. Still dripping, I make my way to the desk to pour these thoughts onto the page before they go the way little birds in autumn and of snow flakes in October–the only evidence of their visit being wet asphalt and soggy leaves.