Mick and I spent a few days on the North Shore of Lake Superior last week. It was a quiet time to be there, with the ski areas mostly done for the season and many galleries, resorts, and restaurants not yet open for warm-weather visitors. Snow still covered some ground, although not much. Ice laced over rocks along the shore, sparkled in morning sun. Eagles were everywhere, some carting nest materials through the air in front of our car as we drove up and down Highway 61. Deer strolled near the highway at dusk and early morning, looked up at us with little fear as we slowed to look at them.
We reserved a room at Surfside on Lake Superior, in Tofte, Minnesota. The room had large windows facing the lake, a gas fireplace, patio doors that opened to the lakeside. Mick laughed at me the morning I woke early, pulled on my socks and boots, threw my coat over my pajamas, grabbed my camera and tromped out that patio door to photograph the sunrise. It was maybe 15 degrees outside, but flannel pajama pants are warm. The only other one out there was the dog from the next-door townhouse, who peeked around the corner to see who else got put outside so early in the morning. But I wouldn’t have missed that sunrise, seeing the light finger out over the water and between the trees, listening to the quiet lapping of the lake. No rush hour, no morning news, no sense of urgency.
The whole four days up north felt like that – no sense of urgency. Nowhere we had to be but there. Home doesn’t feel like that very often; there’s always something that needs our attention. But we knew we wanted somewhere to truly relax as we continued to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary (see last week’s post about that) with this time for just the two of us.
This was a different sort of vacation for us with our deliberate choice to do nothing or nearly nothing for part of each day. We brought books, magazines, wine. We hung out in our room and read, looked out the window, used the spa tub. There was no rushing to the latest attraction or museum or concert or movie. We meandered out the door after we drank all the coffee we made, after we lounged in front of the fireplace, after we took a leisurely shower. Dinner happened when we realized we were hungry; no reservations needed. We stumbled on a music duo in the pub at Lutsen and spent two hours listening to some old blues and roots music while we ate dinner, finished with a glass of whiskey.
The opportunity to renew with this kind of time is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. I’ve been trying to figure out how to put this sort of renewal in place at home on occasion, but the proximity of our own work always throws off those efforts. Getting out of town, away from the reach of daily responsibilities, makes a huge difference. Knowing this makes me wish there were ways to extend that break to everyone, especially people who work more than one job, who have no time to themselves. What would that look like? What kind of society would we have if everyone had the chance to just stop every so often?
I suspect it would make for a far kinder world.
We did feel renewed when we returned home, grateful for reconnecting with each other in the quiet season up north. I’ll try and keep that calm, quiet place in my heart as long as I can.