“No nest built, eggs laid in simple scrape.”

I’m in Big Bend National Park, hoping to soak up the isolation of the Chihuahuan desert and the rugged beauty of the Chisos Mountains.  This time of year a portion of the southeast Rim trail is closed for Peregrine Falcon nesting. That portion is not on our group’s week-long, day-hike itinerary.

I learn on Day 2 that you never know what the weather is going to do.  There is incessant speculation and talk on our morning ascent of the Lost Mine Trail.  Some pine for the sun to break through and “burn off” the clouds and cold that were nonexistent at our sunny campground 2 miles back.  Few applaud the frost and snow.  Many complain and whine about poor sleep, high winds, subfreezing temps, and last night’s tenting challenges.

photo by Michael West. Chisos Basin camp

photo by Michael West. Chisos Basin camp

Parenting can be like that.  When the kids were breastfeeding and my thin wrists and back were caving from the weight and tension and sleep deprivation, I sought a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.  Only, I didn’t know that there was more than one tunnel.

I mined elaborate labyrinths of tunnels–more than BamBam could ever imagine building in his Minecraft games:  worries about ear infections, birth weight, palm creases, butt dimples, endless allergy clinic visits, fights for acceptance to the school’s gifted program. Monkey mind runs wild—for years.

The clouds do burn off.  I start to peel off layers faster than the melting snow can drip down from the tree branches.  Amazing.  Something else to complain about—water, the heat, fatigue, sunscreen…

photo by Michael West. Lost Mine summit

photo by Michael West. Lost Mine summit

photo by Kevin Hartley. Lost Mine siesta

photo by Michael West, Lost Mine overlook

photo by Michael West. Lost Mine overlook

While I am being mesmerized by panoramic skies and drenched in color created by zillion-year-old alluvial changes in the topography,

photo by Michael West, Historic Hot Springs and Rio Grande

photo by Michael West. Historic Hot Springs and Rio Grande

photo by Kevin Hartley. Santa Elena Canyon

photo by Kevin Hartley. Santa Elena Canyon

Loveheart visits colleges for a few days in Denver.  She is sprouting bright green leaves of independence as she navigates her way in a new city.  She has no Mom to rely upon when the inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures of public transit arise.

When the only WiFi break of the week occurs fleetingly at the Panther Junction Visitor Center in the late afternoon of Day 4, I see no message from her.  Yet, BamBam who continues to live a separate life in Spain with his dad, has left me a “lengthy” Skype message, “Mommomomomom.”  When I see it, it is midnight, Spain time. The wonders of social media.  Connection—Not.

My kids will soon be completely grown and gone.  The drama hasn’t played out as fast as the typical Peregrine 8-week parenting period. Nor do falcons seem to have a monkey mind.  They just live.  They dive for food at 200 miles-per-hour. With a lot of luck, they have a full-life of maybe 15 years. What a wonder!

My scrape nest’s work is done. I’m preparing to dive toward the next bend.

photo by Michael West, South Rim

photo by Michael West. South Rim