About this time last summer (August, 2016) I was hiking in Northern Spain with my youngest child - a stretch of the Way of Saint James that covers the terrain between Santiago de Compostela and Muxia, the easternmost point of the Camino, on Spain's rugged north Atlantic coast.
It was weeks before she would move thousands of miles from home to begin her freshman year of college. I walked behind her for the better part of six days, by necessity--she's 45 years younger and in great shape--and by choice; I enjoyed watching her strong even strides, the confident swing of her arms and the gentle sway of her pony tail. I suppose it's a mother thing.
The hike became an extended metaphor for her imminent departure, for the natural progression of the mother/child relationship. Metaphors - strained or otherwise - aside, it was an amazing, and fitting, journey to usher in yet another journey.
Here's an essay I wrote about it: The Road from Santiago, published last September at Literary Mama.
It's now a year later. I just returned from two weeks in Southern Utah, hiking in and around breathtaking Snow Canyon and Zion National Park. It was a rare opportunity to spend two weeks with that same daughter. The second week we were joined by my older daughter and one of my daughters-in-law. Four of us occupied one motel room, sharing two queen-sized beds.
It was wonderful. All of it. Except perhaps the accumulated smells of four women sweating more than we had in our lives. I have the requisite photos of my daughters and daughter-in-law walking in front of me (for the same reasons as last summer, though the two-week hiking trip was part of my plan to be in the best shape of my life by my next birthday) and many more of all of us posing for the camera, caught unawares, all of it. I'm sure there's a parenting or life phase metaphor or two or three that I could dredge from all of that.
Instead, here are a few photos.
Dorothy, author of GRAY IS THE NEW BLACK, blogs about the challenges and opportunities of being a woman and a writer of a certain age in a youth-centric universe.