Monday, August 20, 2012

Closing Lines

I have come to feel that the act of going on a vacation, and the process of being on one, and then the finale, the closing, the end, and the return home is not unlike, and perhaps is very similar to that of going to the theatre to see a play. While being on vacation is a state of mind, it more often helps that a new venue or destination allows one the freedom to relax or do whatever it takes to feel away from the norm of daily life. The preparations for both going on vacation and going to a play are similar and require planning for the journey/experience. Baby sitters are hired, dog sitters are engaged, tickets are purchased, bags are packed, etc. all with expectations of being surprised, engaged, entertained, and to be mentally transported somewhere else for a while.

The traveling vacation begins with the first turn out of the driveway, the play begins with a lowering of the house lights to a darkened void. It is the separation from the place you were in just moments before. Upon arrival at your vacation spot there is still a period of time in which you are still in the unsettled state of doing normal things like unpacking, walking the grounds to see where to sit to perhaps read that magazine and drink that first glass of afternoon wine. In the theater after a while of sitting in total darkness, the first sound is heard or perhaps a character walks out into view, lit with a spotlight, and you are still very much aware that you are sitting in a chair watching an actor perform, very much separated from the events on stage, still clinging to a reality outside.

Then with both comes the moment where you buy in, you feel comfortable, and engage in the experience. The vacation begins in earnest when the shoulders drop and you feel that childlike giddiness of playing hooky. In the theater the moment you buy in is the moment they call the suspension of disbelief, when you suddenly believe that the story is real and the characters are you best friends or enemies and you are a part of the things unfolding on that stage.

The vacation becomes a play, the people you meet are new characters in your life if even for only a few days, the events that happen are an unscripted course, and flow along until the days wind down towards the end. There is the conclusion to both play and vacation. The curtain closes, the lights come up, the dirty clothes are packed for home, the souvenirs are bought, addresses exchanged, the actors are applauded, and the doors are opened for your bittersweet return to reality once more.

And thusly our vacation in the mountains ended. The last day was spent in that halfway mode of knowing the inevitable was upon us, trying to stay in that carefree state of deep relaxation but only failing to achieve it in totality. Mark and I went up to the lodge’s vegetable garden, not an insignificant little hike, and picked some of the heirloom tomatoes that we were told that we were welcome to. Some were not very pretty having some splits in the skin, but the small yellow ones were, and are, divine. 

We never made it back to the magic pool of cairns to kill the ground hornet nest, leaving that for another time, and we were chickens at the thought of not being successful. After another incredible meal at the lodge, we shared another night with Ellen and Tom playing dominoes. Ellen won this time and I have the incriminating video of her victory dance to prove it, which I have no doubt would bring her YouTube overnight fame, but have declined posting until she okay’s it. Although actually we have come to see a high correlation to the score keeper to being the winner ratio, so we really don’t know for certain on that. After her “victory” we retired to the deck to view the stars and to try make the last evening last a little bit longer.

When our eyes adjusted to the dark, the stars became bright in the inky darkness of the mountain air, the Milky Way glowed like a cloud and waved across the sky with Scorpio at its tail in the southern sky. We watched a non blinking object cruise the ecliptic, perhaps a satellite, or perhaps the space station, or a UFO, well technically it was a UFO to us since we don‘t know what the heck it was. Joining us on the deck in the clear cool night air were several of the couples who had been Mark’s students for the past few days, now all chatting like the best of long time friends. It was a savory moment that was felt by all, so much so that all have already made reservations to meet here same time next year for Mark’s class. Adieus were said, hugs made, and the vacation, just like that, was over.

We made it back to town in time for the memorial service for our friend who had died in the motorcycle accident on Sunday. Joe was such a nice fellow and he had touched many lives as was evident by the number of folks there and the emotional outpourings on his behalf. He was here, and now he is gone, and all of questioning of “Why” does something like this happen has no answer and no resolution. It simply, is, reality in its coldest form. From that though, perhaps it will give everyone who knew him a better way of everyday living. Joe apparently lived a finer line between the daily grind and vacation time, and seemed to make more out of each day than most. If that was his mission to share then perhaps that is what we should take from having known him.

It is now, unbelievably, the middle to almost the later part of August, and soon the season will change and bring some relief to the unbearable summer heat and humidity of the past months. My vacation time is over, its mission was successful in bringing my attitude and enthusiasm back to a lighter note. I look out now at the things that need to get done on the farm and am armed with a bit more ambition to conquer the weeds, to get the hedges trimmed, the fields bush hogged, the horses worked, the garden tidied and ready for fall planting, the house cleaned and the laundry washed and put away, the last of the canning done, etc, etc, etc.

 Perhaps though, one needs to be careful not to get to crazy and hasty about things like this. The list is infinite, my daylight isn’t. I think maybe I am not fully recovered from my vacation, and like the lingering last lines from the actor in the darkened theatre that haunt you after you leave, I don’t want to let that feeling go, just yet. Perhaps another cup of tea before tackling such ideas would be the thing to do. I see no Chore Nazi hiding in the shrubbery waiting to haul me in if nothing gets done that is the MOST productive thing I can do at every given moment today. So, the question that remains, is, green tea or herbal?

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