QUAIL MUTTERINGS #35. New Beginnings (May 2015)
Once again I find myself both proud and concerned. Four years ago our son, Chance, graduated from high school and began his university career. And now, this week, he is graduating from CSU Chico with an engineering degree. Kent and I have experienced the empty nest syndrome while at the same time have gone through the emotional yo-yo of his comings and goings during university breaks. I’ve spoken to other mothers who concur about this phenomenon. Just when you get used to them being gone, they’re back again. And when they leave it can’t help but tug at the heart strings again. It’s not easy. I suppose it’s a process in degrees of letting go. Of course, it’s never complete. We will always be their mom or dad.
This spring, in our canyon, the cacophony of avian fledging is everywhere. House finches are nesting all over the cabin under eaves or on top of protruding logs. Red-Shouldered Hawks call incessantly from above the tree tops as the Cooper’s Hawks careen through the canopy uttering their staccato warnings. Sometimes I hear a juvenile Red-Tail Hawk with its unmistakable pleadings. From pre-dawn to after dusk I love being privy to the symphony that this community of ours provides. California Towhees hop around as Canyon Wrens call their descending trills and quail mutter as they scuttle through the underbrush. After night falls, the Poorwills and owls make up the music of the canyon. Abundant plant and animal life celebrate this time of year.
Chance’s fledging now assumes the role of trying to find employment in this uncertain job market. Yes I’m concerned, but hopeful, for his own spreading of the wings. Just as the young birds take flight for the first time and begin to find their own food, Chance will be attempting his version of this. A mother can wish all she wants for her child to find his path and launch, but ultimately it’s up to the fledgling to take those first flights alone. New beginnings can be both scary and exciting.
As for my new start, I’ve launched a home business. One of the upstairs bedrooms in our log cabin is now available for guests through www.airbnb.com. Our rural lifestyle in this beautiful canyon can provide respite for those seeking a natural sanctuary. I’m beginning to feel like my new purpose in life is to share the natural world and a different pace of life with others who want to experience a more organic lifestyle. They could hike the mountain; lay in a hammock in the creekbed; read, write or bird watch from a rocking chair on the front porch; bicycle down Mussey Grade or simply breathe fresh, clean country air. This new endeavor feels right as if this is my true calling.
In two days, Kent and I will take leave of our paradise and head for Northern California to see Chance graduate with a BS in mechanical engineering. We’re towing our itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny 1970 camping trailer so we can take our own food and save on motel bills. We’ll be gone ten days in order for our son to take an engineering certificate exam in Redding, six days after graduation, and then move him back home. There may not be much rest in store for him as he continues his job search. As the buzzards in the eucalyptus grove display their wings to the morning sun with the luxury of time, he’ll be hunting, networking and channeling his energy toward a productive goal. As his mom, I want him to launch successfully even though I know his comings and goings will put me back on that emotional roller coaster. I’ll remind myself to take a deep breath and continue to breathe. So, here’s to graduations, fledgings and successful launchings. Just remember: smile and breathe.
Chi Varnado is a contributing writer for The San Diego Reader. Her memoir, A CANYON TRILOGY: Life Before, During and After the Cedar Fire and her children’s book, The Tale of Broken Tail are available on www.amazon.com. Chi directs the Ramona Dance Centre. Her collection of essays, Quail Mutterings, can be found on www.chivarnado.com.