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The start of something

Posted by johnnieraz on September 5, 2013 at 6:20 PM

By John Rezell

Just before dropping behind a ridge, the early evening sunlight slices through the trees, lighting up the golden bark of a huge Ponderosa pine at Whispering Creek Campground.

Aside from the buzz of an occasional yellow jacket, it's quiet as an empty church. There is not another soul for miles. Quiet enough to hear a trickle of water in the small creek down the ravine just behind my campsite.


On one level, this feels so right, nature somehow calling me out here this weekend with my Black Lab Ridgely, treating my senses one-by-one to the amazing wonders.


On another level, it feels wrong, being here alone.


While practically all my camping experiences include my wife, Debbie, and daughters Sierra and Taylor, this one does not.


They are off visiting colleges. In a blink of an eye, a few days, actually, Sierra will begin her senior year of high school. Her time to dream big has arrived.


In that respect, it makes sense that I'm called back to nature. This is my dream school, nature. It has been for the past 10 years or so.


After years of playing the me-first game, and focusing on career ascension in journalism, I came back to my roots.

I became a stay-at-home Dad, and helped raise two amazing young women. Together we've bonded with nature, and found inspiration outdoors, in a forest, in a lake, on a river, and on a mountaintop.


The move to be Mr. Mom was a calculated risk. We knew there would be financial consequences by relying on one income. The benefits of raising our children by ourselves, we believed, would outweigh the drawbacks. We firmly believed that.

Until now.


Now we wonder a bit. Because now my daughters have dreams. I want desperately to help make them come true. That might be harder than ever. It all begins with paying for college.


I sit at my campsite and wonder, how will we do that? Somewhere I find comfort. It will happen. It always does.


You see, my father always told me not to worry so much about money. You'll always make money, he told me, the ups and downs will always even out.


He grew up during The Depression, and saw vibrant economic growth for the rest of his life. How could he have envisioned the economic turmoil of the last five years? How could anyone have seen that coming?


Our plan was simple. I stay home until the girls reach Middle School. Then I crank it up and get back in the job force. Two incomes and we'll be set by high school graduation.


We didn't see me being unemployed for two years. And both Debbie and I unemployed for a stretch in there. So the challenges we face, although somewhat anticipated, are a little more, uh, challenging.


The sun dancing around on my favorite trees, the Ponderosa pines, enlightens me. Instead of sitting and worrying, I'm writing. That isn't so strange, since that's what I've done most of my life.


It is strange because I haven't done that much lately, for various reasons. Just then, it hit me.


That could be the solution. Writing. Nature. Family. Yeah, that's right. Back to my roots. Back to my dreams I created as I prepared to start my senior year of high school.

I don't know where this is heading. I just know, like all the adventures in my life, it should prove to be interesting.




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