Back from the mountain, off to another shore.

Monday morning, I woke up to a mountain view (though this one is not it; this is from Sunday night). By midday, I was seeing a different stream of life.

And then there were airports, and then there were storm delays on the LaGuardia tarmac, and then I made it into the air and returned to central Ohio (to which my photograph of the approach to Columbus is, I'll be the first to admit, not entirely fair).

And now, the business of packing for the next adventure--another departure to international shores, again for a year, just under a week from today--has officially begun. One box is packed and ready to be the guinea pig as far as shipping costs go. I have changed some addresses; I have made some necessary train tickets; I have acquired the toiletries I cannot get in the United Kingdom. I will get my hair trimmed and shaped tomorrow, when my beloved parents will also arrive for a short visit.

A cardinal has hatched three babies in a nest just outside my excellent friends' TV room. Getting their picture through the window screen, without a particularly good zoom on any of my cameras or lenses, was no small feat. But it felt necessary to catch at these vulnerable little ones, not just because they are utterly fascinating but also because my own skin has thinned in so many essential ways, of late. (Which is one way of saying, the silent retreat was exactly what it needed to be, and what I needed it to be, and the process of bringing myself down off the mountain was not an entirely happy one. "Then just don't go away," says my teacher. He doesn't mean stay there. He means don't leave there. What does it mean to say "there"? We asked that question a lot last month. These babies might know.)