the fledging

The sky changes from putty to blue. I roll over, open my eyes  and what was an hour ago an eerily dismal view from my bedroom window is transformed into something invitingly clear and bright.

Two days ago 30 mph gusts – the same gusts that caused these lanky larches and pines, towering poplars and oaks to perform arrestingly graceful dances – stripped these same trees bare in one afternoon, That was the day we moved my youngest and last son out of the house and into his first post-college apartment, officially fledged.

Those first flights during college are practice flights for both of us after all. Fledglings return to the nest summers and semester breaks because it is still the place they call home, the place to which they return and rely for provision and nurture, not yet harvesting food for themselves.

In the springtime, I have watched young robins, newly feathered, practice with their wings close to the ground, beneath bushes near to the house. With false leaps and starts they remain close to the nest, within range of their parent’s voice. The adults in their lives still bring to them insects and worms. Later the male adult will take the adolescents to roosting sites with other adolescents, from other clutches, where there is plenty of food. There, the young can practice fending for themselves in the safety of numbers until it is time to migrate.

Of course, other offspring leave differently – some all at once, a few migrate with their family of origin for years, and sometimes it is the parents who depart for a warm climate long before the juveniles do. While her feathers grew large enough for flight, my daughter launched several times, only to come back for refueling again – Princeton, Philadelphia, Chicago, Philadelphia, Nashville- this last warm stop seeming to hold, though she still threatens from time to time- when her heart is breaking- to pick up its pieces and carry it home for repair.

I was surprised at the sudden gut-feeling of loss in me with this last one. I thought I’d been here, done this, before. Ha. These past 6 months since his graduation, as he has interned close to home while searching for full-time work, I’ve grown accustomed to his presence again. Though the nest has been cramped it has not been unpleasant. I’ve appreciated getting to know him as a young adult, hearing about his work day over dinner. That will be forever changed now. I will not be privy to his day-to-day life.  He will not be coming back to be here for any length of time, perhaps a night or two at Christmas when his sister is here, but never again will he call my home his.

Yesterday morning I rose to this awareness. My life as a mother of children at home, a 34 year journey, has ended.

Yesterday afternoon, my husband filled all the feeders for winter’s first kiss. The one within view of this upstairs window is busy this morning already. After months of emptiness, in one day the birds have come in droves back to feed, remembering.

The vultures have returned too. Each fall they come back to our village to roost. The townspeople here organize themselves to blasting airrockets to dissuade them from roosting in trees overtop houses and streets. I have seen cars parked here that are virtually painted white overnight due to having the misfortune of being parked beneath their evening roost.

Last evening, pulling into our parking pad, I noted their return, noticed them circling over our house and alighting in the trees perhaps 50 feet from our rooftop. Besides the poo, I welcomed the back open-heartedly. I have come to receive them as a blessing, as it seems that just when I need them, they show up. At a retreat center where I had been sifting through the charred remains of my life, they circled. Years later, they lined rooftop chimneys, warming themselves and drying morning-damp wings, as I also emerged  from the darkness, damp and tender.

Once they were worshipped as sacred, these great birds who consume what has died, use it for nourishment to fabricate eggs, provide warmth, and fill young bellies. New life incorporated from dead remains.

Sometimes I am like them. I do not go chasing my food down, pouncing upon the weak or the sick. While I have the utmost respect and reverence for predators such as these, it is not my way. Mostly I hunt and gather, drawing nourishment from trees and roots. I perhaps fish – yes, I definitely fish, pulling up in my nets these words that sustain. But occasionally, at times of great grief , at times of great growth, I require more meat. I need the vulture today, to help me consume what has died in my life, to clean up the remains. Otherwise, I might just rot in this place.

The sky changes from putty to blue. I roll over, open my eyes and what was an hour ago an eerily dismal view from my bedroom window is transformed into something invitingly clear and bright.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. oasisministries
    Nov 06, 2014 @ 09:35:18

    I like all of your writing… but I loved this one! Thanks for sharing it with the world.



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