Coming up with a plan for a summer vacation this year has been a challenge. Often, it is enough for me to stay home for a few weeks, enjoying the flowers and vegetables in our beautiful gardens, spending time with friends and family, catching up on things I enjoy doing but don’t have enough time for because I am on the road so much with work.
But, this year, like so many other people, I have been home all the time. While there are still tasks I should put my hand to, I just don’t seem to be able to muster up the motivation to do so. After all, those photos have been sitting, completely unorganized, in boxes in the basement for a lot of years already – what’s the rush? I have seen more of my friends and family – albeit in the awkward physically-distanced way we now socialize – than ever (not that I am complaining about that). And, there is only so much enjoying of the backyard that I can do before I long to be on the move.
Most summers, my partner and I also take some kind of a trip – last year, it was a leisurely drive through Gaspe, where we enjoyed the scenery, the food and the people we encountered along the way. This year, we thought we might go to Yukon, combining pleasure with a work trip I was scheduled to make.
Obviously, that plan got scrubbed, too.
Breaking up the routine
How, then, to alleviate the inevitable restlessness? We decided to find adventures close to home.
A few weeks ago, on a day when the heat and humidity felt suffocating by 8 o’clock in the morning, we packed up a quickly assembled picnic, lots of cold drinks, lawn chairs and books and headed to Amherst Island, which is just a 20-minute drive and short ferry ride from Kingston. After a little driving around the island, we found the perfect spot for our outing: Sand Beach Wetlands Conservation Area on the south shore, which offers a lovely sandy beach, with trees right up to the water’s edge. We sat in the shade only a few steps from the water and looked out at Nut Island while reading and enjoying our picnic, taking the occasional break for a wander along the water’s edge. There were quite a few people, many with young children who were delighted to be on the sand and in the water, strung out along the beach, but far enough away that we felt like we had our own private space.
The thunderstorm which had been forecast struck just as we got in line for the ferry ride home, bringing a perfect close to our spontaneous adventure.
This week, we are spending a few days at the cottage of a friend of a friend. No complicated commercial cottage booking; just a few emails and the deal was done. The owners greeted us when we arrived, showed us around and then went home so we could have the space to ourselves.
We haven’t made it into the lake, yet, but have spent plenty of time enjoying the view of it from the sunroom, the dock and the deck on the landing halfway down to the water. We have a serious cribbage tournament underway, which will continue until I have won more games than my partner (right now, he is up three games to one), and are each working our way through the ambitious piles of books we brought. Still to come: some Yahtzee and a game or two of Mexican train dominoes.
Of course, we are also enjoying pre-dinner cocktails, usually on the dock, as we watch the two loons that call this stretch of the lake home. Our meals are tasty but simple, taking advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables: we are just far enough north of home to be able to pick up wild blueberries from a roadside stand.
Finding the time
It’s funny how, even though we are doing many of the same things we would be doing at home – preparing meals, washing dishes, checking email and, in my case, doing some work – it all feels so much more relaxed when we are doing them somewhere other than at home.
There’s also time for those conversations that we just never seem to get to at home; high on our list right now is what we might do this winter if (as seems likely) our two months in San Miguel de Allende can’t happen. Suggestions are welcome, especially if you know somewhere in Canada where I can enjoy warm, non-humid temperatures, sun every day and local mangoes, avocado and limes in February and March.
We made the trip up here an adventure, too, leaving ourselves an extra couple of hours so we could meander and explore. While the route itself is one we have travelled many times, this time we wandered down any side road that caught our fancy. We didn’t discover any hidden treasures in terms of potential tourist destinations, but we saw pretty spots that we had never before noticed.
I don’t want to claim too much of a silver lining in the pandemic cloud, but I am grateful to have this opportunity to find adventure close to home and am looking forward to further such adventures as the summer continues to unfold.