Vacations are for dreaming

Going on vacation while you’re retired may sound like an oxymoron to those still driven by the nine-to-five workaday life. 

Not so much, though, I’ve found: Even in retirement one quickly gets entangled in schedules, routines, things that need attention, that eat away at the time every day that should be reserved for imagining and even dreaming. Isn’t that one of the reasons why people look forward to retirement in the first place? 

Every year, around January or February, when even in temperate San Miguel the wind gets nippy, days shorter and shades of brown sweep over the landscape, Stew and I decamp to the beach for two weeks. For the past several years we’ve gone to Playa Blanca, a very quiet area south of Zihuatanejo,  on Mexico’s Pacific coast, where we rent a beachfront bungalow. 
That arrangement didn’t pan out this year so we rented a condo down the road. The digs are much fancier but they accomplished the same purpose: a disconnect from routines back home.
First routine to go was checking news in the morning, especially these days when the Trump impeachment elbows out just about all other current events. In fact, I don’t know what’s happening with that imbroglio, and I don’t care, a surprising admission from someone who’s a news junkie. American politics has turned into a runaway train that reminds me of the adage about letting go of things one can’t control, particularly while on vacation. 
Gondola builders in Venice

The time freed up by the no-news diet has led me to spend time on photography and gardening internet sites, mostly daydreaming.  For sure, most of the images scrolling on the screen were creations that are beyond my skill level. But so what? Maybe I can pick up a tip or two. 

The photo above obviously has been modified in Photoshop, yielding this lush image that reminds me more of a Renaissance painting than a photo. I began investigating how it was done, though, alas, on our last vacation day there wasn’t much time. I’ll make time to figure it out when I get home. I promise. I love that picture. 
Gardenista, a gardening site that posts different stories every day, provided another flying carpet for my imagination. One posting was about Piet Oudolf, an international gardening star from the Netherlands, the “Mick Jagger of Gardening.” He designed the Lurie Garden in Chicago’s Grant Park and the High Line in New York. One piece of advice I learned from Oudolf is to learn how to appreciate the beauty of the wintertime garden, after the riotous colors of spring and summer are no more. 
Flowers fade,” the article said. “Oudolf chooses plants more for shape and texture than for their blooms. Stripped bare, stalks, stems, and seed pods become architectural elements in the garden. The secret: Embrace decay instead of rushing into the garden with your pruners at the first sign of wilting.”
Oudolf’s garden in the Netherlands in the winter. 

My sere garden at the ranch is looking better already. 

Most surprisingly, particularly after spending 40-odd winters in New York and Chicago, I also caught myself admiring a wintertime photo of New York. I felt nostalgic even as friends in Chicago emailed me about feeling jealous about our sojourn at the beach. 

New York’s High Line Park.

For ten years or so, Stew and I owned a small lakefront cottage north of Chicago. In the winter, when the ground was covered with several inches of snow, our dog Pooch, a Border Collie-plus-something mix, would look eagerly out the car window as we approached the place. Before we pulled up to the house, Pooch would jump out to run, full-speed, dozens of figure eights in the snow, kicking, digging and rolling in it, followed by a quick chase of any geese or ducks by the shore. After this half-hour drill, he would come and collapse in front of the wood stove which would still be barely warming up. By then, Pooch would be heaven-bound, a picture of unalloyed joy. 

I also read a novel—continuously!—which I seldom do at home. It was “Where the Crawdads Sing,” by Delia Owens a scientist by profession who, in her late 60’s, took up writing a novel. Crawdads has sold nearly four million copies since publication. Quite a blast-off for a late-in-life career changer. 

Tomorrow we go back to San Miguel, a seven-hour drive, and the dreaming is about to end. 

This morning a dental implant fell off: Gotta call the dentist. On Saturday and Sunday, Stew and I are working at an Amigos de Animales spay-and-neuter clinic. We work the weigh-in station at the registration desk and can expect to greet 250 to 300 perritos and gatitos, and their owners, during those two days. We also need to plan for a tamalada we’re hosting the following Sunday for Félix, his family and our Mexican neighbors. 

The dreaming will be over, but I’ll be glad to be home. 

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