Tuesday, July 27

Leaving the Nest by Janie DeVos


     A couple of weeks ago, we had our Rotary club’s yearly banquet, which is a time for much back slapping as we thank our out-going president and much well-wishing as we usher in the new leader of the pack.  This year’s banquet took place at the usual spot, which is the beautiful Altapass Apple Orchard.  There, the air is like Heaven’s perfume, with views that are just as spectacular, and because we didn’t have our banquet last year thanks to Covid, this year’s was particularly well attended and thoroughly enjoyed.

As we waited for dinner to be served, I stood around catching up with a group of women that I had not seen for a year and a half.  During Covid, we had Zoom meetings, and because the women I was talking to are the wives of some of the members, it had been a long time since we’d seen each other. 

“Gee,” one of the ladies said to me, “the Covid lockdown must have agreed with you.  You look great!”  

“I was just about to say the same thing to you,” I laughingly replied.  “You look wonderful.  As a matter of fact,” I added, looking around at the half dozen or so women in our little group, “all of you look really good!”  

We all enthusiastically agreed that the year and a half had been kind to each other, at least when it came to looks, until one of the women laughed and said, “Maybe we look so good to each other because we’re just so glad to finally see each other again.” 

We couldn’t argue that fact.  After all, we were eighteen months older, with additional wrinkles and sagging, not to mention a few extra Covid pounds, yet no one saw that in each other.  Instead, we saw the beautiful (un-masked) smiles, the light-filled eyes, and, most wonderful of all, we got to feel each other’s warm embrace. 

Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, I thought, and when our eyes haven’t beheld those we know and care about for a long time, they look beautiful when we finally do see them, regardless of the ten extra pounds or the deepening crows’ feet.   But, as much as we’re enjoying venturing out and being together again, there’s also some trepidation and uncertainty in our post-lockdown footing. 

I was having a sandwich at a little coffee shop in town last week, and I ran into a friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time.  “It’s been a difficult year, that’s for sure,” she said, “and I’m wondering what I’ll be as I grow up in this new world. We’re all going to be different, you know,” she softly added. 

A moment of shared silence followed as my friend contemplated “The New Me” possibilities, and I let what she said sink it.  Her statement really struck me and I told her that.  Though I’ve often wondered about the changes we’ll see in this country and around the world as we step out into it again, I never really thought about how this last year might have changed me, and not simply the world around me. 

While our Rotary dinner was being set up on the buffet table, I walked out onto the deck to take one last look at the setting sun over the apple orchard.  A group of people were out there, too, and at first I thought they were watching the spectacular sunset, but then I realized that their eyes were glued on one of the beams crisscrossing the underside of the deck’s roof.  

“Look,” one of the ladies said to me, looking upward.  “It’s the swallows’ little babies!  They’re getting fed.” 

There, tucked back on the rafter, and seemingly unbothered by the crowd that had gathered below, was a nest full of baby swallows waiting impatiently with their little beaks open for the next food drop to be made by their hardworking parents.  Every couple of minutes or so, mom or dad would swoop in and drop some morsel of deliciousness into the chirping mouth of one of their chicks.  As soon as dinner was delivered, the chick quickly gulped it down and then opened its greedy little mouth again.  

Standing there watching, I marveled at the mother and father birds' lack of fear of the crowd below them.  Instead, they stayed focused on feeding their babies.  The chicks weren’t far from leaving the nest and instinct was telling their parents to make them as strong as they could before their little ones tested their wings.  I tore my eyes away from them and looked off into the valley, knowing that very soon the chicks would be soaring above it, riding the sweetly perfumed air currents over the orchard below. Without a doubt, they’d be scared venturing out into the new world beyond the comfort and safety of their nest and their parents, but also exhilarated and excited at the same time.  After all, there was a whole new world out there waiting to be explored and understood, and all they had to do was take a leap of faith, spread their wings and soar out into it.  

Just like the swallows, we, too, are leaving the comfort and safety of our own nests and taking flight into a new and different post-pandemic world.  As we do, we just have to have enough faith and courage to realize that we’re resilient enough to have changed enough to have made it through a year that beat us all down, but a year, nonetheless, that made us more than ready to venture out into a reshaped world that has many new and unexpected gifts waiting for us.

6 comments:

  1. A lovely post, as usual! And it's made me think and wonder how the Covid year and a half has changed me. Duane & I have talked about how fortunate we are in that we've been relatively unscathed and that even the family members who did have Covid prior to the vaccine recovered well, but surely we are changed, too.

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  2. It would be interesting to do a thesis based on this theory.

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  3. Janie, you write the most beautiful, poignant and truth-telling posts! You have a keen eye and open heart when it comes to assessing the "human condition," and I enjoyed how you integrated so many aspects of it in this post full of wisdom and hope.

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  4. Thanks, Rebecca! Your kind words always mean so much.

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  5. A writer friend of mine posed the same question. She wondered how our relationships with each other would change post Covid. I hadn't thought of it until she posed the question, but I can see how being apart for 18 months might end some relationships that weren't strong to begin with. As we come out of the pandemic the world will look a little different.

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  6. Hopefully, it'll look better in some ways. I know, I know; I'm the quintessential Pollyanna.

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