Cassie begins culinary school next Monday. She is excited.
To watch a dream unfold causes reflection. This child of mine has been interested in food preparation all her life. Cassie has been curious and competent from her first moments standing on a chair watching dinner come together from my practiced hands, to helping me flip pancakes or roll cookies, to where she is following her own cookbook recipes and creating lavish meals for us, her willing family.
Late March of this year found Tom, the girls, and me exploring wine country for the first time. Exciting to discover what is essentially grape farming. Row upon row, acre upon acre, valley upon valley deliciously and decidedly planted and pruned. We vowed we'd return when the leafless grape vines hung heavy with grapes in the fall.
Yesterday we returned at Cassie's prompting. The same vineyards, transformed, welcomed us with aromas sweet and varied, sights magnificent.
But more met my attention, more than I anticipated. I'd hopped out of the car to snap a few photos. It wasn't but moments when a strolling figure entered my camera's viewfinder. It was college-bound daughter heading for the vines. Still curious. Still unstoppable. Still independent and competent. Staying in the background I watched, curious myself. Silently she inspected, breathed the aroma, tasted the fruit. She sighed. Pensive. This world of grapes and wine-making beckons her. She has to know.
Stirrings in my heart let me know this was the beginning of something great for Cassie. For all of us.
Culinary Arts. Blessed she is to know what she wants, to have a dream she is free to follow.
She's in the kitchen right now - making big, soft pretzels for the first time - patiently waiting for me to accompany her in buying required college books. There's a strange lump in my throat. I don't quite understand why. I am happy for this child, eager for what is ahead, not at all sad or afraid. She'll be living here at home all year, going to school just as she did high school last year. Is it joy? Is it change?
I don't know. But it's good, whatever it is, and I embrace it.
The fullness of life.
(If you click on the last vineyard picture you can better see Cassie on the left, inspecting the grapes.)