I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Vacation is behind me

Tuesday's sunset from the airplane
Last Tuesday evening I took a direct flight from Tampa to Seattle, flying from east to west, and just happened to look out the window when the sun was going down. We landed a full 45 minutes early, which made me very happy. It meant I would have no problem catching the 9:00pm shuttle bus to Bellingham. I arrived at 11:30pm to find my dear partner waiting to take me home. My adventure finished, my familiar pillow and bed never looked more inviting.

When my sister Norma Jean's husband Pete died in 2011, I began taking a trip down to Florida each winter to visit her. At first she lived alone, but for the past few years her son Peter lives there too. I slept in his bedroom while he stayed in the shed, where he keeps a small bunkbed along with his desktop. I was as comfortable as one can be sleeping in someone else's space. Peter prepared all our breakfasts and dinners every night. Norma Jean takes all this in stride, but I was once again able to experience Peter's culinary skills with great appreciation. It's not that I don't get wonderful food at home, but it's different.

When I first arrived in Florida, the weather could not have been more perfect. But by the time I left, it had gotten much warmer and more humid, and I had some difficulty adjusting. Of course, here at home the rain stopped while I was gone and the sun was shining, with cool temperatures while I sweltered. I was happy to return to my own weather. It's true that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, right? Now it's just a happy memory, and my days here in Bellingham are filled with rain, wind, and even some sunshine.

I missed my friends and family here, but I've already returned to the gym for my usual classes and even got in a yoga class on Friday. Yesterday I walked with the ladies, although I only went around Lake Padden once, as the wind howled through the trees and the rain was stinging pellets. There was a much smaller number of us than usual because of the weather, but then once I got home, the sun came out, the wind died down, and it was beautiful. I should have persevered.

Now that I am back home and settling into my old routine, I look back at the time in Florida as if it were another world. I can still feel the intense sunshine and incredible humidity when I think of it. I guess I've become a Pacific Northwesterner through and through, because this feels like home and that was an adventure, a place to visit but not to stay. How people like my sister live there year round is a mystery to me. Peter told me that you do get used to it, but it's hard to imagine that I might ever even want to. Summers in the Pacific Northwest are so perfect that I wouldn't want to miss a day.

Both Peter and Norma Jean did everything they could to accommodate me, making me as comfortable as I could have been, and I very much appreciate it all when I look back at the days we were together. Their lives were uprooted, Norma Jean didn't golf at all while I was there, and her golfing buddies kept calling to see if they could get her to change her mind. She's got a wonderful group of ladies who play golf together several times a week, and they have all become quite fond of Peter as well, who does construction and odd jobs for them. One of them, Rose, showed me her entire home in which Peter tore out all the carpeting and laid linoleum that looks like a hardwood floor. It's beautiful. He is a perfectionist in everything he does.

Today I am pensive, thinking of my own life and how much I appreciate the environment I have. A coffee shop filled with friends and acquaintances, a gym with classes I have been taking for a decade, and now yoga that helps me keep my body flexible and my mind serene. This spring I'd like to begin a home practice, so that is a goal I have ahead.

When I returned home, I was amazed at how much lighter the sky is in the morning than it was just a few days before. We've turned the corner toward spring, and every day now we have more and more daylight. Walking to the bus, I no longer need my headlamp, and the sun is setting at 5:36pm today, more than an hour later than it did at the winter solstice. Signs of spring are popping up everywhere, although we still have a fair amount of winter to get through before it's time to start planting in the garden. I love it here. Sometimes you have to visit another place just to see your own environment with new eyes.

Today I'll be heading off to the coffee shop and will enjoy the ritual I've created with my friends there. Then I'll come back home and spend some time with my partner before settling into my favorite chair with a good book. I might go back to Lake Padden and make that second loop around that I missed yesterday. My friend Judy and I might go to a movie. The whole world of Bellingham is open to me, and I can decide what most appeals to me. Isn't it great to have choices about what to spend one's day doing?

And once again I've written a Sunday post, feeling myself wrap up the vacation that now is a memory, looking forward to today and tomorrow with a new appreciation for all that I have in my life. Mark Twain gives us his take on life here:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Well, okay then. I'm off to see what this day has to offer. I hope that you will take a few moments to think about what you might appreciate in your own life. And I'll see you again next week. Be well until then, dear friends.


Marie Smith said...

Serenity. That’s what comes through in your post today. Your life in the Pacific northwest is perfect as it is! Not many people can say that, Jan. You are serene!

Rian said...

They say variety is the spice of life... well, you experience this going from the west coast to the east each year... and get to visit with family at the same time. How great is that?
I live in the middle, but have visited the east coast (which I loved - esp Maine), but never the west. Well, that's not exactly true. We flew out of Vancouver to go to Alaska, so I saw a 'little' of the west... just not the coast. But maybe, one day. It might be on my bucket list (if I had a bucket list). And I do agree with you that Florida is a lovely place to visit, but I don't want to live there (and we did for 2 years). So glad you're back home and all is well!

Anonymous said...

Your life seems like a good one, spending a week in Florida and the rest of the year in Bellingham.

Linda Reeder said...

After spending time in Colorado, out on the plains, as we used to when Jill lived there, I was always so happy to get back to Seattle and the surrounding Puget Sound country. Even the cold, rainy days make you appreciate so much more the days when the sun comes out and everything glistens in freshness.
Sounds like you are well established back in your routine. I never takes you long. :-)

Arkansas Patti said...

You really do get use to the Florida heat. In fact, I have never been as house bound hot as I have been here in Arkansas. I have never seen so many 100+ days as I have here. I guess that just goes to prove there is no such thing as paradise.
So glad you are back in your element though and enjoying all your lovely area has to offer. Sometimes it does us good to see another climate to appreciate our own and face time keeps your sister just an arm length away.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Glad you are back home safe and sound. It sounds like you had a great trip. I will second what you said, "I love it here. Sometimes you have to visit another place just to see your own environment with new eyes." So true, that has been my experience, with every trip I've taken, ever since moving to the Pacific Northwest many years ago. Wishing you a great week ahead! John

Red said...

The Florida experience would be intense so it's left it's mark on you. We are all used to our own space. However, you did come back with your guilt and thought about missing the second lap of walking.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I love travelling and any pillow will do as for me home is where my head is and it has been so because of all the moves and trips to strange places especially my unfortunate Saudi one baco in 1985 December. Hubby was 78 today so after his treatment there and many more I still get to share time with him. Sadly his demands and Buddy’s needs have led me to leave my friends as they were unable to apprciate I was seldom free and tagging Buddy along seemed unfair. I do miss the fun of those days but have managed to fill the time with more family visits globally and when possible blogging. My days are no longer as active but often very enjoyable. Love how you shre with us. For me it means a great deal as it is a mini friendship of sorts that I treasure.

Sally Wessely said...

We, your readers, have become used to your routine also. I love the way you have found such rhythm for your life. You have inspired me to find a rhythm for my own life. I think of you on Thursdays as I know you will be hiking. I think of you on your Saturday walks. I think of you as you faithfully write your Sunday post. I envy how close you are to a coffee shop.

I have a bit of cabin fever. We haven’t gone anywhere all winter, so I am ready to get out of Dodge. We have a trip planned for later this month. I am looking forward to it, but like you, I am sure I will also be anxious to return home. It is where our heart lives.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I think you are a gal that like routine...and whatever upsets that routine you are lonely for it! And that is okay. You are comfortable where you are at...and that is a good thing:) I hope you have a good week full of all your favorite things:)

Mage said...

Welcome home. I'm spoiled by a much more even temperature here south of you. Glad tho she has Peter and her round of friends as do you.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thank you for this gratitude-filled posting. It seems to me that gratitude fills us with the peace of knowing just how right our life is in some ways or in all ways. Peace.

Galen Pearl said...

I loved the description of your daily life contrasted with your visit in Florida. I can picture your day and feel the comfort and pleasure you take in it. Lovely.

I am a Pacific Northwest transplant from the South. This has now been home for 27 years and I love it. I thought spring was here, but today it is snowing. Ha! Snow on the tulips!

Elizabeth P said...

What a lovely description of your vacation time in another clime! I am a new follower, having just popped over from "Crazy As a Loom's" blog to say Hi! Your writing is so vivid and enjoyable. I've always wanted to live in the great Northwest but alas to date have not been able to realize that dream. It sounds so lovely and to be away from humidity, New Hampshire oddly gets quite humid in the summers and oh the bugs!!! Get me out of here! Anyway, I shall look forward to reading your future blog posts...
Hugs for now from very confused weather in New Hampshire...

David Gascoigne said...

You sum it all up so well. There is truly no place like home. Like you, I could never imagine living in Florida year round. Friends of mine used to live in Boca Raton and in the summer they hardly ever left their air-conditioned home, and even then it was to ride in their air-conditioned car to an air-conditioned store. Suffice it to say, they no longer live there!