Today, our first day back after our vacation, was a hectic one. There were phone calls to be returned, emails to be answered, bills to be paid, appointments to be kept, milk to be bought, piles of laundry to be done...
While I knew that we would be busy when we got back (I was thinking mainly about that garden of ours - and it surely didn't stop while we were gone), I hadn't quite expected it to feel as...well, frantic...as this. So I'm glad my husband and I took some time to reflect before we came home, as we lazed on the porch at Milford House. What was awesome about our vacation? What would we change next time?
We concluded that our vacation was just the right length...we thoroughly enjoyed the places we visited and there were no inklings of homesickness. And we have testimonials from the children on that front, too. Nicholas, curled up on a wicker chair and holding a pillow with a pintail duck on it, gazed at me happily as I finished reading a chapter of Anne of Windy Poplars before bed. He grinned and said, "I love this place." Followed by, "I can't wait to get home and see our garden."
We also concluded that our children seemed happiest on the "free time" days, the day we went to the beach in PEI and the day we rented a canoe and played on the beach or in the lake at Milford House. The periods of peace were longer, the marvels they discovered on their own were more exciting, and I suspect the memories will be a little brighter. It wasn't that they didn't enjoy the other places we ventured to...it was just that they appeared to like those two days a little more.
With that in mind, and with the search for that elusive simplicity calling to me, I think that next year we'll stay closer to home. We'll still go to a place where there are woods to wander in and lakes to splash in, but we won't go through three time zones to get there. It won't feel so mission-critical that we make sure everything that will be needed is packed. Our children won't need to struggle through jet lag, and us with keeping our patience. We can perhaps spend less time travelling and more time just being in nature.
With that in mind, we would also be more...selective...about our meals. We've felt on other trips that we've spent half our time hunting down healthy, soulful food. This time, we really didn't put in the effort. We spent much time in sit-down restaurants, silently trying to quiet that internal wondering of whether this restaurant food really was healthier than fast food. Those meals did eat up time where we could have been doing other things, and it was pretty heavy on the pocketbook too. Still, we knew we wouldn't be cooking up the local delights of lobster, mussels, and haddock in our hotel rooms, so we felt peace that we tried to get as much of the local flavour as possible during our stay.
While we historically vacation in August (because ball season runs from May to the end of July), I'd also like to consider vacationing earlier in the summer, before the garden explodes with produce that needs to be put up for the winter. My parents looked after our gardens while we were gone, and besides watering it and picking things for themselves (which was all I was hoping for), they also put up 4 quarts of dills, 9 pints of sweet pickles, 3 quarts of refrigerator pickles and 4 pints of relish (their own recipe, which I'll have in my eager hands next year when the urge hits to make relish), plus whatever they kept for themselves. How sweet they are!
In the end, it was a special trip, and we are grateful we could enjoy it together.