Before walking, I work on my eggs poem; I am feeling optimistic. In the sense of being willing to keep at it. I am letting it surprise me. I am grateful for all the images I’ve taken that are finding a home in this process and helping me craft the deeper mystery of what this ritual for menopause – and the poem it is engendering – will be. Then, I go out with Charlie and Suzi in the cloudy. The air and ground are moist and messy. I head over the trestle into the meadow where the tiger lily blooms still. I smell the grapes ripening before I see them. Ripening. In 2013, when I wrote “Wild Grapes,” two of my children were adults, the third, a teenager, and I could see toward the day when I would no longer have my children living with me, such a primary concern and preoccupation of my energy and emotion and time. I never liked the phrase “empty nest” - as it implied that somehow a mother – or father – would experience a loss of vitality simply because her children were grown and out of her home. I knew I would always make a vital and meaningful home for myself. That having my children leave home would be gratifying, not tragic. Personally enriching, not depleting. My writing life, my teaching, my art, my friendships, my marriage, my hobbies – all this feeds me richly every day. Two of my adults have left and returned and live here as adults who come and go, come and go, and we take care of each other; not because we have to. Because we want to. I saw all three of my grown children today. The one grieving the loss of the dog and preparing to marry; the one preparing for a workshop presentation who needed help getting his materials prepped; the one who is home from orientation to graduate school who wanted to talk, enthusiastically, about how much she likes the people in her program. This nest, I think, will never be empty. My husband flew home tonight. We had dinner, the two of us, on the deck while Charlie troubled a bunny in the garden. Tomorrow I have my poetry and art presentation, and I am ready.