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Dear reader, the next three blog posts are a compilation; a “what I did on my summer vacation” essay that I hope entertains and perhaps enlightens. Arriving, Being and Leaving. I will link them so you can read them at your leisure…

 

Alice and I are pleased to see a farm stand on the road in to the pond. Fresh veggies within walking distance!  We bumped along slowly as the dirt track took twists and turns, ending in the yard of our retreat for the next four days.

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I am disappointed. The photos didn’t depict the real view which as more “rustic” than I had imagined. Not a cute little “Welcome To The Lake” sort of place, it was workmanlike and built on the shallow end of the pond. I fumbled with the instructions and managed to get the door open. Alice chattered away in Chinese Shar Pei, sniffing out the former residents and complaining about the lack of familiarity.

Part of my disappointment was the rather swampy waterfront. I had known there was a beaver dam. The good news was it keeps the larger boats out from the other lake homes. The bad news is it made for a rather weedy lakefront. No help for it, look on the bright side, a chance to disconnect and be with my thoughts, my dog, and nature.

“Narrow your focus” I said. I sat as the sun set and just looked; no camera, no thoughts  demanding be captured. The “people” sounds were sharp and abrasive, the ducks winging overhead were subtler but with careful attention they drowned out the rest. I looked at the snippet of Mt. Monadnock, “The one who stands alone” and realized I have never had this view of her before. The rocky summit was clear but a shoulder had appeared.

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Instead of seeing the larger view of weeds and tall rushes, I walked to the edge and counted the water lilies closing their blooms for the night. A hawk circled and dove into the trees on the far shore. The sound of the crickets grew to a crescendo, drowning out the fireworks and rowdy parties beyond the dam. “Narrow your focus” I said…

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Inside the cottage I set about making dinner for Alice and I. Strange pots and pans, a stove that wasn’t intuitive, foreign plates and dishes; I grumbled and fussed against the unfamiliar. Music might help. My customary guitar solo filled the space as Alice and I sought a comfortable place to sit and eat. I felt her discomfort and tried to ease it with soothing words.

As the last the light faded from the sky, we set up the bedroom and settled into the alien bed. The window framed the dark sky, littered with bright stars. Narrow your focus…

Day One

I planned on disconnecting but find I have three devices  (if you count my phone) and am still hooked like the proverbial fish to the worm on the barb.

I’m waiting for the chemicals that create anxiety to leach from my body. New surroundings, a promise of four days disconnected. Yet Alice and I feel itchy, (not the scratchy kind) and cannot seem to settle into a routine. There is no familiar footpath from the kitchen to the bathroom to the outside. “Routes must be established,” I command as she harrumphs at my feet. We are on holiday with the intent and purpose of breaking the routine, slowing down, reading, writing and relaxing. The problem is the “intent and purpose” part of it. Thoughts rule my mind, creating expectations.

I take a break from my business of settling in. We’ve walked, lay in the hammock, sat on the patio and I went for a brief paddle. It’s only 10:00 in the morning. I need to narrow my focus…

I paddled twice today. Cautiously and wearing my PFD the first time. Alice berated me from the shore and tangled her rope around hammock-stand to the point where she was trapped. Limonata is narrower and a bit more touchy than the “banana-shaped”  kayaks I have had. Her seat, once I am settled, is divine and I zipped through the waterlilies’ in comfort.

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Limonata

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My second go was much more relaxed. Alice seemed less clingy and sat peacefully in the shade as I darted from shore to shore and down to the beaver dam. The best view of my mountain is from the dam though it will require portaging to get beyond it.

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Routines are becoming established and Alice seems more settled. Fish jump amid the water lilies, a pair of massive Dragonflies crash at my feet in a frenzy of late breeding and the smell of roasting chicken fills the air. Narrow your focus…

It’s funny how just leaving your shoes around can make a place more like home. We set out on our last walk of the day. Alice snuffles over everything making the most appalling noises. We are growing familiar with the road, the houses seem more like homes as I see the shifting of the cars in the driveways and am beginning to imagine the personalities of the occupants. You can tell a lot about people by what they surround themselves with, and what they leave behind. In the case of our rental, there is rye flour, whole wheat flour, tapioca flour and white sugar; no plain old flour and luckily I brought honey. I can tell by the dust on the glassware, who drank wine and who sipped tall glasses of water or juice all day. Magazines and paperbacks tell a different story; all the typical vacation specials from James Patterson’s complete works to those of Patricia Cromwell. Neither my favorites. Board games and cutesy “Lake Cottage Homes” decorating magazines fill the shelves.

The houses of our neighbors run the gamut from lovely refurbished cottages with green, well-kept lawns and sandy beach fronts to ancient trailers parked before the turn of the century, sprouting additions that were never quite finished. A garden of saucy zinnias brightens one such home, until I look closer and realize they are plastic. Doors are thrown open to the late summer heat yet stone fireplaces smoke in backyards. New firewood sits in various stages of stacking and seasoning. Those who are savoring the last fishing and boating days are also mindful of the season to come.

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Narrow your focus…

16 comments on “Arriving…

  1. love shots of open, empty roads. especially yours with the dog in the foreground. i can almost smell that sweet clean forest air. 🙂

    1. Thank you Shellie! We did a lot of walking and sniffing!!

      1. haha. lotta sniffing indeed.

  2. Touring NH says:

    Getting settled in a temporary home is always quite a task. Alice must have gotten her fill of new smells while you were there. The one up-side, she didn’t bring in any outside toys (at least none you’ve mentioned yet!)

    1. I’m giggling Laura because it was a lovely break from the constant barrage of outside toys inside. She didn’t bring in anything but pine needles!

  3. That looks like a relaxing spot and I hope you had a chance to do some!

  4. Just looking at these pictures is soothing. Ahhhh

    1. Thanks Phil, If I don’t channel my inner landscaper, I think it was a lovely respite!

  5. julieallyn says:

    Narrow your focus… A bit like the mantra to simplify, no? Either way, a commendable approach to less stress and clean living. Nice little yarn, Martha. I’m off to reach part two!!

    1. Thank you Julie. Your kind words mean a lot. It’s an interesting metaphor that struck me as I sat, not looking through the lens of my camera…

  6. Marie Keates says:

    The first days of holidays are often nervy, slightly fraught things in my experience. Rarely have I arrived somewhere and really felt at home. The only place I can think of is Marrakech, where from the first moment, I felt as if I was meant to be there looking out over the High Atlas Mountains, which seemed like a painted backdrop to the madness.

    1. Java was like that for me, Marie. I think in a former life I must have lived there as it always felt like home.

      1. Marie Keates says:

        That’s how I felt about Marrakech

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