Approaching Empty Nests

Hiking With Children by Heidi Robertson 6/24/2013



Our teenage daughter doesn’t hate hiking, it’s just in the summer she’d rather not move. She loves being home. Just being. She makes a great rock, or paper weight. She’d prefer to stay home in her room under a pink poly cotton sheet- floor fort watching anime, or playing Nancy Drew games. But we coax, and she goes with us. Maybe this will change with wind direction.

 At an athletic one hundred twenty pounds, she’s like the sculpture cornering Coalville’s off ramp and Main. Not Ivy, the other one by the vacant motel. I like to call this new piece “Balancing Granite on Rust.”  Actually before we take our art and selves too seriously, I heard one of my fourth graders call it “Flicking Boogers.” Seriously, don’t be so….irreverent! 

The artwork reminds me of a couple of scriptures that counsel…”Trust not in the arm of man; and lay not up treasures upon earth that moth and rust doth corrupt or eat away, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. (Matt. 6:19- ).

 Building a foundation on Christ is a lot like building on granite. While we should be building on rock, we dilly dally in carving sandcastles. Then being our clumsy selves, we have no muscle memory and fall. We curse at God and are surprised when the castles we build in splendor are dashed by tides. We are the rusty part of the sculpture affected by human elements. Judgement and self deprecation oxidize our once shiny selves (if we let them). Then we put this on display as if to call it art. Not smart.

 I have decided this is another “dangerous” piece of art donning my home town. At least Ivy has clothes on today. Last week she was pioneering. This week she is flagging construction. This new piece is a traffic stopper as well, but on a mental, not physical level. Actually the artist got it all wrong. The thing should be inverted, granite on the bottom and rust on top. Logical thinking calls for bedrock on the bottom. As it is… is rust on the bottom, precariously balancing stone on top, like so many fools juggling their gods and idols. Actually it’s monotheistic.

 It is the precariousness that stops us and holds us in wonder. It works as a delicate rock, but not as a religious relic. Thinking is dangerous and that piece makes one think. Also dangerous is that the stone is balanced on such a tiny contact. It defies natural law creating a major point of interest and causing distracted driving. The city should have considered this risk before placing it, because drivers making the monumental turn toward the economical viability of Coalville, run the risk of getting caught up in an Art moment. I wasn’t even texting and did a dangerous double take. All I can say is put the ambulance on standby. Wow…….when nineteen year old, Drae Burgenner, becomes mayor I will have to speak to him about this. He may reply, “Citizens of River City……Four score and seven……watch your phraseology young woman!” Actually, he would probably just say, “Cool. Don’t you love art?”

 I am brought back to the reality of footfall and rhythm when I notice a pebble in my boot. I step so as to move the irritant across my foot to the edge like some students. The edge is where my daughter is, hiking in flip flops and an equally inadequately dressed attitude. I choose to compliment her, only she walks faster, merging into the HOV lane. I think we are too much alike today dry walling tire tread waffles into dusty pancakes on backroads. Sadly, we are out of syrup.

 I make the mistake of mentioning cacti and blisters. She prickles. “Ughh.” “That’s fine. You hike your way, and I’ll hike mine,” I say with a smile…. adding, “Then in twenty TREK miles, or twenty years (I think), we’ll meet in the middle and compare blisters.” I am encouraged by the thought that someday we will have more things in common than merely name parts and gender. That youth and knowledge will have ripened to soulful beauty and wisdom, like grapes into exquisite Italian wine. Someday she will have her own children to hike with.

I want to have an exquisite heart and a delicious mouth, but I have been told I am a chore to talk to. This breaks me like sagebrush under foot. I search in hopes of finding consolation in sharing a cut rate hike….something. I wish she could appreciate what I so often glory in. Too bad last weeks reunion hug has worn off. Mark just smiles. I fear I tease and talk too much at my girls. Mark’s silent smile reaffirms the status quo, and says he knows his place as foster mom is secure in “stay-up-late” talks with teens.” He is a great listener, has impeccable timing and carries an EMT (Emergency Medicine for Teens) pager. I love my sleep and my timing belt is broken.


We trespass our favorite place to the spillway. Because it’s Sunday night, it’s still and wake-less. All the boaters have gone back to the work week, and this singular postcard is all ours, but for a few fisherman on a distant shore. The dogs wag happy tails, and swimming merrily, merrily, merrily….life is but a dream for them. Devon is still prickly pearing, and is blind to agave blooms, sego lilies, and crimson paintbrush that dot the hillside. I dance carefully around daises and thistles in my speckled sage hen hiking boots, absentmindedly wondering how my daughter’s keeping up. I’m mistaken. She’s ahead of us even after we take the shortcut. She is like a horse who knows her way back home to sweet oats. My wild oats run deep here, all around, in every direction. Across the stream in green, green pastures. I am wild colt words and I am home in never going home today.  


About hrobertson2013

“Each man ( and mermaid) will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land”. Isa 32:2 NIV Warning: The author of this blog is not an ordinary individual. Even Mermaids need a rest from all that's real and grown up. Welcome to the wonder of blog. Come be audience to all that's wet and wild in her stories, poems and thoughts. Instructor by day, super hero by night, and mystical mermaid by summer. Whenever she has the fortune of diving into a pond, reservoir, or mountain waterfall, you'll find her there swimming, and singing songs of life.
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