Birds of Snow and Empty Nests

February 5, 2011

A beautiful sunset this evening, casting golden sunshine across the snow, forming sparkling shadows on the snow sculptures all over the yard. The amber light catches the Damn Rabbit tracks and throws them into purple shadow. They form a symmetrical bow around the privet and a swoosh in front of the veggie garden. In the front beds, tracks cascade down the snow drifts, a pattern of paws and tails.

Mice tracks in the Neither Here Nor There bed. Perhaps the spaces made by the bricks which lift the rain barrels is another winter home for Francine and Clarence. Boy, they really have it good here, don’t they?

The wall formed when the shovel sliced through the snow on the front walk is patterned with layers, carved with swirls. This escarpment is lit from the sunset, crystals picked out and glittering gold. The snow on the porch is craggy and iceberg-like; we have a miniature Siberia happening right here.

It is a beautiful evening, cold and crisp and white, the end of a warm, fuzzy day.

I woke to Barbra Streisand belting “Don’t Rain On My Parade” and smiled. Eliza was getting ready – physically and mentally – for her audition for ISU’s theater department. We started out early and she was one of the first actors to audition while we listened to the department chair tell us more about the program. While I’ve never second-guessed her decision, it was a comfort to hear it discussed in very straightforward terms, almost like it is a business or accounting degree. They prepare them for a career, with ongoing assessments of their progress so she will know if she can truly be successful professionally. I walk out feeling very assured; Tony and Eliza ask me if I’m getting a room next to her.

We visit Dominic for lunch and (naturally) a trip to the grocery store. He is relaxed and comfortable, completely at ease. It is nearly unreal – so wonderful that it’s too good and true too. He tells us about the buildings where he has classes, the field house where he plays basketball and where they will practice lacrosse. He points out the Gentile Center. Tony and Eliza look at each other and snicker “genital center.” They laugh and giggle and generally crack each other – and themselves – up. Dominic looks at me and says “What are they -12?”

Eliza is spending the night at Northwestern, so we leave Dominic with his bags of lemons, tortilla chips and gallon of milk. He does not look pinched, he does not look anxious. He is okay. Really and truly okay.

Eliza bolts from the car with her friends, sherping her bags into the dorms, laughing and excited.

Tony and I start home and marvel about how strange – and beautiful – it is not to worry about Dominic and how the ISU program seems to be such a good fit for Eliza.

Home. On the porch, there is a wind-whipped formation of snow. It is sculpted into a bird in flight, delicate and free and soaring.

There really should be two of them.

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