Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jumping the Nest

Squam Lake, Chamberlain-Reynolds Memorial Forest, New Hampshire

“Are you pregnant?” 
My husband joked when he caught me organizing bookshelves and bagging crumbling craft projects.

“I’m not nest building, just clearing out old twigs.”

Double rainbow at Olde Orchard Inn, Moultonborough, NH

Our kids are at camp/wilderness experience and my agent is reading my work in progress. They left behind more than eggshells.

Our home gets especially bad at the end of a school year and when I’m finishing a manuscript. The house would echo with emptiness if there weren’t so much junk.

This will be our life in four-years’ time, when both kids are off to college. Sometimes my husband and I joke-bicker over whether the spare room will be an office for him or a painting studio for me. It would be bliss to write without interruption or to paint the evening light without arranging after school pick-ups. We could go out to dinner just the two of us on a whim, as we did last Saturday night.

There are advantages clearly, but life is fuller with the kids at home, and not just because of all their stuff.

Last weekend we visited our 14-year-old daughter in New Hampshire. She and her friend seemed older after two weeks away at an island camp. The girls had made rings of silver and bronze and had braided macramé bracelets. Their bond to each other was even stronger. As we let go, our children reach out and grasp new hands. They aren’t really children anymore but not quite women either.

Up another mountain last year in Acadia National Park, Maine

Meanwhile, our son turned seventeen on a snowy mountain peak in the company of caribou.

 He writes:
“Greetings once more from the woods. All is still well out here. At the moment it is most excellent, as I am writing while taking a break from cooking pancakes.”

What am I doing in this empty nest, 
knee-deep in dusty books? 

Time to pack my art bag and go. 
The rocky coast of Maine is the best studio. 
Next week I’ll share my paintings and hear of their adventures. 
Maybe I'll have feedback from my agent by then too. 
No use waiting at home!

Except it's raining yet again.

Guess I'll read a new book...
and check for more rainbows.

Innisfree Bookshop, Meredith, NH (603) 279-3905


Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

A lovely musing on anticipated changes. It is a big adjustment when the nest empties, and although difficult it holds its own sweet rewards. (I have to admit it was hard to convince me of that at the time!)

Sounds like you have all had a magnificent summer Sarah.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

What a perfect August you're having. And I simply love your son's letter! That's a keeper! But, I'm sure they all are, aren't they?

A Cuban In London said...

Beautiful and excellently written post, which, read against the grim backdrop of what's been happening in London in the last few days, brought a much needed smile to my face.

Thanks. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

☆sapphire said...


Sounds like you and your family have had a wonderful summer! I think change always comes bearing unexpected gifts.

I also read your trip posts and enjoyed them a lot. I've never been to Elba Island. I really want to visit the island in the future!

cynthia said...

I've missed so much being swamped with work--love the photo of your bookcase. State of Wonder is towering high in my to-be-read pileS. And I adore, adore, adore your photos of Elba. I had no idea it was so beautiful. Because of your post, it is my current desired destination!

SG said...

As always, your pictures leave me awestruck.
I must also thank you for sharing the picture of your bookshelf. I have been wanting to get a bookshelf made, and I think now I know exactly what to show my local carpenter :)

Les said...

Though we just have one to fledge, when he is away it is freaky quiet here. I am not sure what life will be like when his absence becomes the norm.

Cat said...

You speak to my heart! So many changes with teenagers. As my oldest leaves next week, I've been considering life with her away and I'm fairly certain I'm not ready. She is though and that is what matters. So wish I could be there to watch you paint on the sounds most magical!

Sarah Laurence said...

Bonnie, thanks, it’s helpful to get the view from the other side.

Pamela, my favorite of my son’s letters was the one he wrote on birch bark from the woods. We shall save them all. In this digital age, letters are so rare.

ACIL, the riots in London defy explanation. I feel for you.

Sapphire, it has been a wonderful and full summer. Elba was fabulous.

Cynthia, I’m looking forward to your impression of State of Wonder. You would love Elba. I’m swamped with work now too (and behind in blog comments), but I can’t complain after all the vacation time I took this summer.

SG, we love our bookcase. The adjustable shelves are key. It’s attached to the wall but open in back. That’s our wall color showing through. Our bookcase was part of our 1920’s house when we bought it. I adore built ins and would love to have a carpenter build more. Good luck with yours!

Les, our son came back 2 days ago after a month away, but his sister is still at camp until Saturday. It’s fun having some one on one time with each kid. Our lives will change when they are gone so I’m enjoying their presence now.

Cat, this must be such an emotional time for you. I have 2 years before my oldest child leaves for college and I doubt I’ll ever be ready. I wish I had more time to paint on the coast, but right now I’m busy with writing. Best of luck to your daughter.