The strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung. Walt Whitman
I drive the same route on two-lane roads that wind through rolling wheat and hay fields and hillsides of prairie grass, then turn the car toward the mountain ridge of cedar and pine and fir. I have done this at least once every day for the past two weeks. I’m in Idaho’s Panhandle for an extended three week stay. And each time that I drive on these country roads, I revel in the beauty that is here for me — the wind blowing waves through fields of wheat, red sun at dusk shining on prairie grass, expansive views of rolling Tuscany-like hills dotted with pines. And there are always the surprises, the new delights that await me at every turn. Once I saw an owl light from a tree with great sailing wings, and, another time, a hawk rapid-wing fluttered in place above a farm field. A fat porcupine lumbered into the tall grass one evening at dusk and a mother Hungarian Partridge beckoned her fluff-ball chicks across the road at mid-day.
And as I approach the forest ridge of evergreens, as I turn into the last driveway before the trails, I find the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow drive. It is a baby who awaits me in this sweet cottage home, a new baby just over two weeks old, tiny, with sweet pink lips and blueberry eyes and a furrowed brow when she is hungry, and her parents, too, who are also new at this baby game. And aren’t we all — and always — birthing something new, discovering the new around the next corner?
For sure, the world is a new place for this baby, this sweet six-and-three-quarter pound girl who is my granddaughter, Adeline Zoe. When you walk with her outside, she startles at the brightness of day, and she looks up at those great western cedars with her fuzzy gaze and I wonder what she is thinking. And she is a hungry girl, this granddaughter of mine, hungry for the new. She latches onto her mother’s breast, tastes sweet milk, likes what she tastes, likes the feeling of skin against skin. Sure the world is new to Adeline, but it is also new to her parents, my son and daughter-in-law who are figuring it out, this rabbit hole that they find themselves in, figuring out how to survive, how to thrive in this world of sleep deprivation and constant feedings and emotions that run the gamut and unexpected Tsunami-strength waves of love that overpower everything. They are birthing a new way of being.
And what am I birthing out here in the hot dry northwest of August where I am constantly surprised by the new? I know I am birthing a new way to be present with my kids, the two families who live in the same small college town, each with a grandchild who pulls me in. I have figured out my own way to jump down the rabbit hole into the new, have found an apartment for myself in the walk-out basement of the kids’ realtor’s home. It is beautiful and a bargain and it offers me the space to be me as i navigate these new grandparent waters. I claim time each day for an adventure with my three-year-old buddy Viren, and it doesn’t take much to amuse the two of us — a walk in these tall-tree forests on trails that wind up and down, or a trip to the center-of-town play area and a fountain where we throw pennies into the splashing pool of wishes and a smoothie at the Co-op and we call it a good afternoon. And Adeline Zoe!!! I am intoxicated with her newborn presence and I treasure the times that I have held her close. And it is enough to just sit and gaze at her. And it is easy to find balance and to find pleasure in this Idaho world that has breathed itself new.
And as I drive back and forth on the country roads, as I delight in the newness of each trip, I wonder what else I might be birthing, for I feel the pangs of something new emerging. I know that there are the newborn cries of four books telling me that they are ready to be nursed into shape and introduced to the world. And I know that there are other things crying to be born as well and i know that I don’t need to hold myself tight against this birthing process, that it has a momentum of its own that is powerful and ancient and true And I know that if I really tune in, really allow that ancient wise birth song to have its way with me, I will be delighted again and again by what shows up around the next corner. For there is nothing more precious to behold than new life, new projects, new ways of being just waiting to nestle themselves into my arms.