Up north

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I don’t fish or water ski. I abhor the smell of wood smoke. I’m bugged by bugs. So why did I so enjoy our “up north” vacation?

My family of five shared a tiny, slightly-musty cabin. The weather was cool and rainy – we barely saw the sun. It was too cold to swim. My son sprained his foot. And we spent most of the week in damp, grubby clothes. On our return, the laundry (literally) brought tears to my eyes.

But there was a wonder to watching our oldest son catch his first “real” fish – a 16″ bass – and sharing it for dinner. To seeing our teenage daughter befriend a tiny, self-assured young man, aged four. To watching our youngest win a sandcastle-building contest. To hearing our children, within hours of arriving, ask, “Can we come back next year?”

And even though this is not the trip my family took when I was a kid, there was something familiar about the call of the loons, the crisp, clear water, and the activities at the lodge. It reminded me of childhood, of a simpler time where the last fleeting days of August were all the more sweet because school was right around the corner.

The rest of our year is a frenzied blur of homework, carpools, business trips, and deadlines. Music lessons. Airport noise. Telephone calls.

“Up north” we traded rushed meals for long dinners at the lodge. Housework for damp clothes draped over the deck railing. Sports practice for pick-up volleyball games. 24-hour connectivity for evenings by the fire.

And non-stop activity for peace. The peace that comes with having all the time in the world and nothing, really, to do. Time to watch an eagle soar, or wait for a bite on the line. To play cards with friends all afternoon. To listen to the owls calling all night, and then sleep in.

Which is all I really wish for in a vacation. See you next year, little cabin.