Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Past Deadline: Cue Vacation

Vacation was a long time coming.

I know some of you could tell.

A lady who lives around the corner from us dropped by one afternoon with a photocopy of a cartoon she loves. It features a haggard-looking woman and says, “When I woke up this morning I had one nerve left, and now you’re getting on it.” She thought I might appreciate it.

I believe I referred to that last nerve in a column in early August. That was many days, hours and minutes ago.

I’m pretty sure the fact I was hanging on by my fingernails in the days and weeks leading up to our holidays was becoming quite obvious.

“Hope you have a really restful vacation,” friends and colleagues would say, gently patting my arm as they backed away slowly with a slight look of fear in their eyes.

It has only been a little more than a year since we’ve had a week’s holidays, but it feels like about 50. We had a weekend away in a hotel earlier in August that served as a dandy bandage to get us to this lovely week.

Due to a variety of work-related circumstances beyond our control, we had to schedule the week at the very end of August.

It’s a scary week, that one, with school starting right after we return. There is much to get organized for the kids, and since I teach part time at the wonderful brand-spanking new Perth campus of Algonquin College, there are last-minute preparations to be made there, too. Courses need to be organized and boxes need to be unpacked.

Still, a holiday is a holiday, and a few unavoidable work commitments (school and other) can be navigated.

Fortunately, we sagely chose to vacation very close to our own backyard.

At the beginning of the summer we reserved a cottage near Perth thinking at the time there was a chance Groom-boy would not be able to book a whole week off. Being close to home would put us within commuting distance, so the rest of the family could hang out at the lake and he could commute to Ottawa by day and enjoy the cottage in the evenings on the days he had to work.

Meanwhile, Miss Work-From-Home (with occasional meetings away from the house) would also be within close proximity of a few commitments.

Even though it would be nice to completely shut everything off and spend the whole week floating on a lake and staring up at the sky, this has been a darned good compromise. We have enjoyed a quaint cottage with lots of fish to catch (probably over and over and over again), good swimming and nice neighbours – one with a friendly dog that likes playing with the kids.

Despite the occasional work-related interruption, there was enough downtime to be able to feel some of the work weariness drift away.

It’s amazing how powerful being outside – in a quiet setting, communing with nature – can be. It’s an excellent way to recharge the batteries.

I also love how much the kids get out of it. The same short people who spend way too much time bartering and bargaining for additional screen time, find hours of enjoyment in looking for frogs and snakes, catching and releasing innumerable sunfish (and their various cousins), paddling around in a dingy, swimming and sliding down a slide on a raft.

Oh, yeah, and all that fresh air and activity tends to make them tired. That kind of tired is sooo goooood!

It makes me sleepy, too, and having that many tired people all in one place tends to bode well for snoozing through the night.

You can’t beat that.

As much as I adore my faithful assistant, Mr. George BlackBerry, I do look forward to having a holiday sometime when I can unplug him completely. I’m sure he would appreciate a break, too.

For now, though, it was grand having him along to keep things on track and – of course – to check weather forecasts up to the minute so we could decide whether to go fishing or swimming or retreat into the cosy cottage to read good books. (Or we could just look out the window, but don’t tell George.)

Published in The Perth Courier, Sept. 8/11

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