Wandering star

"I was born under a wandering star."

That's the opening line to a song sung by actor Lee Marvin in the movie Paint Your Wagon (1969). My father and I loved that movie, and Lee Marvin in particular. I watched the movie again recently, and now that line and its accompanying tune is stuck in my head. I find myself singing it as I run through the forest with Finn.

It seems to apply to me, and my life.

I'm planning on moving soon. I've moved frequently over the course of my adult life. Often for the usual reasons - school, job. Sometimes for a new life, a new view of the world, a challenge. Change is good.

I'm thankful that my dogs have always considered moving to be an adventure. They don't like the packing part of the process, but once we're in the new location, adventures and exploration begin. That's the fun part.

Gorgeous sunsets are a regular feature of life in Idaho.

Finn and I will be returning to the mountains of Idaho, where I lived from May 2005 through December 2008 when I returned to the Seattle area. I never did sell my house in Idaho. My father urged me not to. As usual, his advice was spot on and I'm glad I listened, despite the financial struggle of keeping it all these years.

By 2008, as the economy completely ground to a halt (especially in rural Idaho) and I decided to return to western Washington where I could more easily find work, Dad was quite ill and frail. But in 2005 when I bought some acreage in Idaho and moved there to supervise the building of my house - talk about a challenge - I shared the whole process with Dad through weekly phone conversations. We celebrated when the well driller hit water and told me I had an artesian well that pushed water at 28 gallons per minute. I consulted Dad when making decisions regarding the house - what sort of siding and roofing; whether to install a backup generator; how best to fence a yard for the dogs. He enjoyed hearing about my new neighbors and how I was adjusting to country life. Dad suggested I get some goats to keep the grass mowed. (Dad grew up on a farm in rural Kansas and always yearned for that simply way of life.) He was too ill to travel so he never did see my home in Idaho. But he applauded me for making it happen. When I said I was returning to Washington, Dad pointed out I'd put too much blood and sweat into creating that house to sell it if I could avoid it. Those words have stayed with me.

I was grateful I'd listened when, last summer, I spent three months at the Idaho house with Maia, Meadow and Finn. I went to write - and I did, finishing at long last a book I'd started working on with my father in over a decade ago.

An Idaho evening.

I also went to Idaho to help ease Maia out of this life, knowing that at age fourteen with her lymphoma in remission, her time was limited. I wanted her final weeks to be spent where she could watch deer roam across the lot, follow red tailed hawks hunting voles in the field, and visit her favorite neighbors for treats every evening. She enjoyed all of that and more for six weeks before passing away from old age in June.

Little did I know that Meadow would soon join her, diagnosed with bone cancer just three weeks after Maia's passing. I'm so grateful that Meadow, too, was able to spend her final months in peaceful Idaho, enjoying all those same things.

Along with running through the nearby Payette Forest with Finn, writing the book was my therapy as I said goodbye first to Maia, then to Meadow. Somehow, channeling happy childhood memories of my father and writing allowed me to weather the horrible storm of losing both my girls, just six weeks apart.

Now, that wandering star I was born under is pulling me again, toward Idaho. I'm excited. I tell people, "I'm going back to Idaho for the near future." Who knows how long I'll stay, or when I answer the call of my wandering star again?

All I know is that, for now, for me and Finn it feels right to go. There are new adventures to embrace there. New books to write. Maybe one about dogs.

Rebecca WallickComment