Waiting

On a dark winter morning I’m sitting in the living room chair waiting for the sun to come up—or the earth to turn towards the fiery orb. Too tired to do anything, but kept awake by the incessant kicking in my belly. Not even born this kid is demanding, waiting to get into the light, as impatient as his mom.

The wind is rushing around the house—it’s winter in Livingston. I listen to the plastic tumbling of the trash can in the alley. The shed door is blown open, exposing our rakes and shovels to anyone who might blow by on this dark, windy almost-morning. Our Labrador paces in the bedroom, waiting to get out, but if let out, will pace in the living room, wanting to get back in.

This winter is all about waiting for me. Waiting to fall asleep at night. Waiting for the sun to rise. Waiting for the baby to be born. Waiting for the wind to calm so I can walk the dogs along the river without worrying about their 70 and 100 pound bodies being blown to Big Timber. I’m not a Buddhist; I like things to happen and for life to get going. Patience, meditation, acceptance or peaceful serenity has never been my strong suit. I want to make things happen—now.

To bide my time I work, of course, and take long walks up a narrow valley in the Absaroka Mountains where I can get out of the wind and into the snow. Despite pleas from an about-to-be grandpa to avoid solo trips to the woods, I walk alone, introducing the baby to the ice-edged creek and chickadee songs. I point out snow laden Douglas-fir boughs and the remnant of a late summer harebell beneath kinnikinnick leaves.

Out here I’m not waiting. I’m walking. I’m observing. I’m dipping my fingers into the cold creek. I’m taking careful mental note on what is different and what is the same as the last time I was here. I’m relishing the stillness of the air and the contrast between the wind-swept Paradise Valley and this little draw in the mountains.

Leaving the forest and stepping into the meadow near the trailhead, I’m hit again by the wind. I don’t really mind it when I think about its origins (in fact, I think the wind defines who we are as Livingstonites—tough, persevering and a little crazy). The rapidly moving air is a direct link between Yellowstone and Livingston. The same bouncing molecules that circulated through bison nostrils, nourishes me as I pant my way up the hills.

The baby book says our unborn can hear the outside world; can hear me calling the dogs or my husband singing funny songs. I imagine he can also hear the wind whooshing just beyond the watery sounds of amniotic fluid. The wind may be a comfort to him. It’s is something he’s known from the moment he was created; it might be stillness that seems strange.

In elementary school we learn that hot air rises and cold air sinks. Fifty miles down the valley in Yellowstone National Park cold air gathers and sinks in the Yellowstone caldera. That cold air eventually fills all the space there is and then pours over the sides like water, following the Yellowstone River into the Paradise Valley where it explodes and roils sweeping the valley clean.

Just before reaching town, the wind squeezes through Rock Canyon and bursts into Livingston whipping plastic grocery bags into cottonwood trees and knocking over semis on the highway before sliding around the side of my house, gathering leaves and Dairy Queen trash into an eddy by the front door.

The wind connects me to the Park in the same way the river does. The wind connects me to wilderness the same way these nine long months of pregnancy connect me to a baby that I don’t yet know but who will soon be the center of my world.

I keep sitting in the chair, gliding back and forth, staring into the darkness outside the house. Waiting for the sun to come up. Waiting for the day to start. Waiting for the wind to slow down and waiting for a baby to be born. Despite the waiting, the wanting to get on with it, I know these moments are important. Perhaps that is the lesson of this pregnancy. Life is about right now; it’s about the red willow branches and the undulating surface of the river as the wind blows from left to right. There’s always tomorrow—when things will be different—but there is also right now, pregnant, in the dark with the wind howling outside.

Montana Parent
March 05, 2007

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