Closing A Circle

After Bill and I married and I moved to Bellevue, I was still longing for Arizona’s wide-open spaces. In the Seattle suburbs of Bellevue and Kirkland there’s a park called Bridle Trails made up of second growth Douglas firs that provide a thick green canopy over streets and houses alike. The first time we drove through there I told Bill, “I could never live here. It’s too dark.”

When 2006 came along, we were living in a downtown Seattle condo within spitting distance of the Space Needle. At the time Colt was only a few months old, and his father, Jon, was in the last few months of his nine-year battle against melanoma. I spent hours each day commuting back and forth from downtown Seattle to the east side of Lake Washington where Jon and Jeanne T. lived.

One day Bill said to me, and this is a direct quote. “Our daughter is going to be a single mom. We need to live closer.” We went house hunting with only two real requirements. Bill’s knees were bad, so we needed a home with a ground floor master, and it needed to be on the Eastside. Guess where we ended up—the south end Bridle Trails. (Never say never, right?)

The thing is, whoever bought this lot to begin with must not have liked the canopy any more than I did. He ended up clear-cutting the whole property. Our house looks like a Mediterranean villa airdropped into a splash of sunlight in the middle of a dark green forest.

A month after we moved in, the first event we hosted here was the reception after Jon’s burial in the Coast Guard cemetery in Cle Elum. Colt was nine months old at the time. The intervening seventeen years have passed in a blink. He’s eighteen now and just graduated from Lake Washington High School.

This past Saturday we hosted a graduation reception for him here at the house. It was advertised as an outdoor open house complete with swimming pool and was scheduled to be from two to six PM.

Around here, we’re currently living through what the weather people are calling Juneuary—a time of whiplash weather where we’re freezing one moment and too hot the next. All last week the seven-day forecasts were brutal with torrential downpours expected over the coming weekend. We went ahead with our plans but with a good deal of foreboding.

Saturday morning, wanting to get some of my steps out of the way, I went outside to do some laps around the pool—190 steps per lap. Amazingly enough it was overcast but definitely not raining. Jeanne T. called on the phone informing me that the weather at their house, five miles away, was terrible. “It’s sunny here,” I told her. She wondered what I was drinking besides coffee.

By the time the caterer arrived at noon and began setting up out in the gazebo, it was all blue skies and sunshine. When Colt and JTJ arrived a few minutes later, they were astonished because they had driven through flooded streets and a hailstorm to get here. The first guests arrived at one. Kids went into the pool. Older folks hung out on the back porch or in the gazebo.

Everything went swimmingly until 4:45 when an amazing flash of lightning and crack of thunder sent the swimmers bailing from the pool. What followed was the promised torrential downpour. The remainder of the party was spent with people making use of the fireplace in the Gazebo and the overhead heaters on the back porch.

At the point in the party, Jeanne T. came into the family room where Bill and I were busy staying out of the way while binge-watching Downton Abbey on Netflix.

“Do you remember the first event we had in this house?” she asked.

Bill and I allowed as how we remembered that very well, and what followed was a few moments of quiet tears of which the other guests were totally unaware.

For ease of coming and going, we had left the sliders on the patio open most of the day. As guests were leaving, I noticed that there was one of our wild birds who was obviously taking serious exception to the proceedings. Then as Jeanne T. and the last two guests walked through the living room, they discovered why the bird was so distressed. He had flown in at some point during the party and was now trapped in our living room—a room with a fourteen-foot high ceiling.

This was not my first trapped bird rodeo. I went out to the pool and brought in the long-handled skimmer. We put a towel over the working end of that. Finally, once the terrified bird landed on the towel, JTJ was able to lower the skimmer out through the open slider immediately underneath where the bird had been perched, making it a happy ending for all concerned.

I’m sure there will be more celebrations in this house, but these two seemed especially meaningful—like closing a circle. The rain came eventually, but it wasn’t enough to spoil the fun.

But maybe that’s the whole point of circles. Good and bad. Bright and dark. Sun and rain. Winter and summer. Sorrow and happiness. Life and death.

All we have to do is keep on rolling along.

Oh, and never say never.

Judy & Colt

Judy & Colt

PS. Again, if the photo isn’t visible, please send me a note at

48 thoughts on “Closing A Circle

  1. Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing. Oddly enough I just finished putting a House Wren out of the house. Must be she took her name literally. She has a nest full of babies on the porch and must have darted inside when someone opened the door. Glad you got your visitor outside safely.

  2. Lovely picture. We had the pleasure of meeting your daughter and grandson many years ago in canon beach. Your grandson found out I was a fan of yours and called you so I could meet you. He was so sweet. I will never forget meeting them they were so nice.

  3. Thank you for sharing a beautiful time with you and your family. So glad it ended up being such a pleasant time for all! Even little bird. I wish I could see your pictures when you post….

  4. Thank you for a great story. Having read so many of your books, I can now travel in my mind as you describe Seattle and the surrounding landmarks and towns. I love the circles you describe. Wonderful photo too.

    • Where does the time go…I started reading your books before Jon’s passing! Wishing Colt the very best in college and his future. I love how even your blogs paint a picture…how many of us know your driveway, pool, the path to the koi
      pond and even those steps you take when you must walk indoors!? Thank you for including us in your walk though life. God bless your journey!
      P.S. Picture is delightful!

  5. Just experienced a similar closing of the circle as my Granddaughter Lola graduated from high school in San Francisco, and that brought so many memories of the last 18 years of our lives right into the present. The closing of a circle, the beginning of a new one.

  6. What a beautiful, uplifting, impactful story of life. Due to recent events in my life, it had more meaning personally. Thank you for sharing. There was no photo that I could see.

  7. Life is full of interesting twists and turns and I often find that I’ve had experiences that I never anticipated but am grateful for none the less. I’ve always felt a connection with you in that I’m from Arizona and ended up living most of my adult life in the Puget Sound region. I understand the January thing and we seem to be finally exiting the June gloom! I like some big trees but I understand about the need to have some open air as in winter the darkness of too many can be oppressive. But with the sudden unexpected heat we’re having, I appreciate my tree-conditioning which will help keep us cooler. Great photo.

  8. thanks I needed that positivity on all fronts. I am facing recomended Open heart surgery in the near future. your blog has once again been a ray of positivity for your Chuck in Tacoma. Maholo. I am looking forward to recovery time reading And or listening to your escapism books. HA.

    • You always share in such a way that your good humor comes through-
      The MDs and Nurses will appreciate that, and give you the best care-

      I always love your comments~ Good luck and God Speed,

      Robin Jeanne from NYC

  9. Sounds like a terrific graduation party, rain, sunshine and all! Congratulations to Colt!
    I love your philosophical and positive outlook on life. Cheers!

  10. What a lovely post!

    I love the full circle that occurred in your house. Even though it rained, someone was definitely making sure that the party was a success for most of the afternoon.

    Congratulations, Colt!

  11. I loved this blog because I am in a circle now. Widowed 2 years and 4 months ago, I was doing pretty well, even helping other widows and grievers. Then thunder hit. I have no idea what triggered it, but a month ago I slipped back into grief with a bang. Crying, praying, asking God why I am still here and why did I have to be a widow twice in my life? Did God create us to be paired? I am working to close that circle, trying to get back to where I was 6 months ago…starting to tolerate the single life. I don’t know what the future holds but I know Who holds it and I just cling to Proverbs 3:5-6. Your grandson is beautiful. Your writing continues to inspire and help people. Bless you.

    • There might have been something to trigger that return- A date of something that you may not remember- A reminder of something unconscious- There’s also no timeline for grief, no cut-off point at two years, or even five years-
      In any case, there’s nothing wrong with getting help as you go through this-
      People are not made to suffer alone- We are all social animals-
      There are grief support groups- There is grief counseling- Even online groups-
      You DO need comfort, and you deserve it- It sounds like you feel very lonely, and
      and the fact that you have lost two husbands makes it that much harder-
      I hope you reach out for comfort and support, to your church, to a therapist, to a seniors group… Good Bless-

  12. Congratulations, Colt!

    And, Ms Jance, thank you so much for all of the wonderful entertaining you’ve given ME over the last few decades.

  13. Sweet story illustrating the joys of memory, challenges and blessings that come along. Met you years ago at the Hillerman conference in Albuquerque. Love your books. Spent 45 years writing sermons. Now writing a family story about the Preacher Girl from Preble.

  14. Sweet story! And I found a bird trapped between my storm door and entry door this week, it had only been there a fee minutes, flew out when I opened it! Glad it didn’t get inside. That was a first for me. Nice picture of you and Colt

    • Ginger, I’ve read that a bird flying into a house is a sign that someone living there will soon die. In other words, it’s bad luck. I’ve had one bird fly in here. I opened the door and chased it out with a tennis racquet.

  15. Where does the time go…I started reading your books before Jon’s passing! Wishing Colt the very best in college and his future. I love how even your blogs paint a picture…how many of us know your driveway, pool, the path to the koi
    pond and even those steps you take when you must walk indoors!? Thank you for including us in your walk though life. God bless your journey!
    P.S. Picture is delightful!

  16. Living in an apartment with screens on all the windows, so far no birds flying in-
    However, when walking around the complex, I have been almost dive-bombed by
    a mother Blackbird who apparently had a nest of babies in the tree I was walking under-
    Many congratulations to Colt and to his mother and grandmother upon his graduation- HIs proposed major sounds ideal from what I’ve read of him-
    Clearly he has inherited a creative streak from someone in the family!

  17. Congratulations! We just celebrated two granddaughters graduating from high school. Such a special and very proud day for us as well. Outdoor party today and forecast is everything from sun, clouds, rain. Weather people cannot get it wrong!

  18. What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. You are so correct things truly do come full circle and I believe that’s how it’s supposed to be. Congratulations Colt!!

  19. I don’t see a photo. Just wanted to let you know I am loving all of your books. I’m binge reading and crossing them off my list as I go. Working through the Brady series right now. Please keep writing!!!!!

  20. Judy, thank you for this blog. It made me feel as if I were there! Congratulations to Colt and best wishes for success in his chosen field. My twin grandchildren also graduated this year. One is going to NAU to study chemistry. She’s currently in an internship at UA for science. Her brother will be going to UA to study music. He plays a mean saxophone!
    I can relate to your weather…we started monsoons yesterday. Glad that the party went well and that the bird safely flew away.
    Closing the circle with both parties is meaningful.
    Lots of love and good wishes to all!

  21. Congrats to Colt. I graduated from LWHS in 1960. Still have a large group of women alum that meet for lunch frequently at 3rd Place Books. I spent hours and hours on a horse in Bridle Trails during my teens and after marriage and the birth of my son, who rode in front of me in the saddle at 18 months. I sure would love to spend a day on a horse in that park just one more time, now at 82. I knew every trail in there. Your blog brought back fond memories.

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