Vacation has a different rhythm. The almighty clock becomes less significant. (The same cannot be said for the calendar, since we try desperately to prevent whole days and weeks from passing. But at least we don’t have to look at it and consult it every day to make sure we’re where we’re supposed to be!)
Although I no longer work, my routine is busy and somewhat structured. But not during my favorite vacation – Camping at the beach. The classes, lessons and social events are suspended for fourteen lovely days and nights. We spend most (all) of our time outdoors – except for sleeping, and even then we are separated from the night air by only a screen canvas.
My clock and calendar are replaced by nature. We rise each day when the sun becomes too bright to remain sleeping. We make very few plans. Instead, we rise and decide what to do, often based on the weather conditions or, sometimes, the tides. It must be somewhat like our ancient ancestors lived, long before there were offices to drive to on congested highways.
Our entertainment is not television or video games. In lieu of sitcoms, we watch the fishing boats return to dock. We look to see what birds stop to enjoy breakfast on the berry bushes that surround our temporary home. At night, we gaze into a roaring campfire and anticipate the appearance of local wildlife, hoping for a dropped morsel of tonight’s dinner.
One of my favorite parts of this vacation is falling asleep to the haunting sound of a distant fog horn. I know it’s not Mother nature’s handiwork, but it certainly lends itself to whole experience of being close to the sea and all the dangers that come along with it.
We eat native seafood, caught down the road by local fishermen who rise before dawn and face whatever temperament the ocean presents. We visit a local farm and choose vegetables grown there, planted and picked by hand. We cook them over a fire (albeit charcoal) and dine outdoors.
As I enjoy my morning coffee, I listen to the cry of an osprey, circling above. I might glance up and see her carrying a fish in her claws, heading back to the high nest in the marsh that abuts this beautiful place.
Our days here have a nice cadence, determined by the sun and the sea. It used to take me a few days to adjust to the pace, but not anymore. I slip into it like an old, worn flannel shirt. The fit is perfect. It feels familiar and comforting. I breathe in the salty air and feel the sun’s warmth on my skin. It’s like I never left. Maybe, in my heart and soul, I never did.