Suddenly last summer

I’ve been on vacation the past couple of weeks, sloughing off the bug-eyed stress and mind-melting  irritations of workaday life. Ah, vacation. Such affection and appreciation I harbour in my heart for these hard-earned days of leisure. If only they were less fleeting and infrequent.

This year my sister and I spent a few days on Bowen Island, hunkered down in a lovely little waterfront cottage, watching seabirds and eagles cavort over Howe Sound and listening to all the noises the Pacific Northwest bestows when the chaos and cacophony of city life is stripped away.

Every morning and every evening (and a good chunk of the time in between) found us ensconced in our comfy red faux Adirondack chairs, sipping coffee, tea, wine or G&Ts, gobbling up the views or immersed in our books or happily pondering the possibilities of picking up sticks and abandoning life as we know it for the solitude and sanctuary of island life.20150615_193234
There was a rocky beach a short walk away from 20150616_131345the cottage which we visited every day when we walked Rory (our dog). You see the little point that juts out from the trees on the left in the photograph below? That’s where our cottage was, nestled right behind those trees. We had neighbours on either side, but they were farther back, and the most we heard from them was an occasional cough. It was like being in the middle of nowhere,

And, speaking of Rory, he’s blind, deaf, diabetic, and ordinarily as poky as an unmotivated slug on on his walks, but he loved being on Bowen. Maybe it was the sea air or the irresistible bouquet of rotting sea critters, but he was  champing at the bit for his morning and evening walks on that rocky beach.


When I’m in the city, I can barely stand to go a full hour without firing up my laptop. I go through internet withdrawal during power outages, even if they only last half an hour. The cottage had wi fi, and I’d brought my laptop because I knew I couldn’t stand that many days without being connected to the virtual world, but I didn’t open it once.

From the moment we walked into20150617_195729 the cottage, I morphed from madly stressed, wack-a-doo, neurotic computer addict to blissed out deck chair aficionado. And, honestly, with sunsets like this to watch, who could blame me? Hope you’ve all been having as fabulous a time as I have. Today was my first day back at work–quite a shock to the system. I’m still hanging on to my cottage-y bliss, but it’s already starting to fray around the edges. Ah, vacations. What was I saying about you being so fleeting?

29 thoughts on “Suddenly last summer

  1. What a beautiful place. There’s magic to be had in great bodies of water, and is the perfect place for a relaxing vacation. Glad you had a good time (and Rory too!).

    • The magic thing is so true. You don’t even have to dabble your toes in a lake, river or ocean–just being close enough to hear them whisper their watery spells to you is sufficient.

  2. Now *that* is a vacation and the weather was perfect for your getaway. There is nothing more calming than the lapping of great bodies of water, particularly when watching them with an icy G&T, a good book and a best friend :)) Missed you!

    • It was the perfect vacation for me this year–lapping waters and utter tranquility. My brain was ecstatic. I missed you too, Jo, and I thought of you a lot while I was there, and about how much you’d enjoy the writerly isolation.

  3. Ooooh I want to be there – NOW! How lovely Kern, glad it was such a special time for you and your sister and Rory! The photos are absolutely beautiful. You can always print them out and stick them right next to your computer or on your sticky board and be always reminded of the beauty and sacred there is in amongst the mundane?

    • I wish I could tele-port you there right now, Susan! I love your idea of printing the photos and sticking them up by my computer. Have you read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea? She talks about choosing a memento from her summer retreats–a rock, a shell, a piece of driftwood–and keeping it by her writing space to reach out and touch from time to time when she needed reminding of what you describe as “the beauty and sacred” of those precious days. I brought back two little rocks, one to keep at work and one for home–I think I’m going to feel the need to hold them often over the next few weeks.

      • Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea is a most beautiful book. I bought it years ago (actually I’m wondering if it was given to me as a gift now that I think about it?) and a few as gifts for extremely special people. It’s down in Plettenberg Bay in the ‘guest room’ right now. Thank you for reminding me. I’ll move it back from there to own bedroom when next down in P Bay. Holding those small rocks you brought back will surely tele-port you – as will a dip into AML’s book!

        • My copy was given to me by a former supervisor, who was/is also a cherished mentor and friend. She gave it to me when I was leaving my position and told me it was book that I’d need to re-read every few years. It was excellent advice!

          So, now I’ll have photos by my computer, my rocks, and AML’s book waiting for my attention–there’s no way I’ll be able to let the memories fade.

  4. Hi Kern – I’d love to visit Bowen Island one day .. a friend I’ve known for a while lives there … but your cottage sounds delightful and just being out in the fresh air, listening to the ripple of the gentle waves, the bird song and the wind through the trees must be gorgeous … and Rory obviously enjoyed himself too. Wonderful to have that time with your sister … happy days – cheers Hilary

    • I hope you make it over to visit Bowen Island one day, Hilary. It’s astonishingly beautiful. So hard to believe it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from Vancouver. Quite a few artists and writers live there, and it’s not hard to see why. You’d be hard pressed to find a more conducive setting for letting loose your creativity.

  5. What a delightful spot. Leaving your laptop alone is really the only way to have a decent vacation. Silly isn’t it? tt’s not that long ago when none of us had computers and now we mostly can’t live without them.

    • That’s so true! How did we become so addicted so quickly? It’s a bit scary, really. But it’s not an addiction I’m quite ready to do battle with at the moment–except when I’m on vacation. 🙂

  6. Sounds like the perfect vacation to me. And if we didn’t have to come back to the real world eventually, we probably wouldn’t appreciate our vacations quite so much. At least, that’s the (probably fictional) story I always tell myself when I return from a wonderful trip!

    • It really was perfect. I’m going to go with you on the theory that the value in coming back to the real world is how it helps us appreciate our vacations. That makes the sting of reality a little less sharp!

  7. Oh Kern, I’m ready to go on vacation with you too. What an idyllic setting! I live on the bay with woods behind my house, so I do have the serenity, but not the spectacular view! Being away from the city definitely has its advantages. I can see you daydreaming at work about being back at the cottage! Loved your pictures! Thanks for sharing your vacation!

    • I think I’m having house envy now. Woods and a bay? That sounds like a little slice of heaven, even without the view. Heh. You’re right. I have to keep have stern talks with myself about not spending too much time dwelling in my cottage memories. 🙂

      • I LOVED Susan’s suggestion of posting your pictures of the bay there at your desk. But, I’m laughing too as I would spend the day staring at the pictures wishing I was there! Oh, did I forget to add that my woods are also nettles and sticker bushes. Oh yeah, there is a bear wandering around not too far away! 😉

  8. Oh my, Kern, that sounds like heaven. That feeling of peace when you unplug and unwind and forget all about work and stress…There’s nothing like it. It sounds like you had the perfect holiday – sitting in the sun, reading a book and sipping a G&T (or a Pimms, also goes oh so well with sunshine) is the perfect way to while away an afternoon. Hope you can hold onto the cottage-y feeling for a while 🙂

    Made me smile that your dog is called Rory by the way – it’s actually the name of one of my characters 🙂 My character’s a girl though. Your Rory sounds like he had a great holiday too. We haven’t yet taken our dog on holiday with us, because living in Hong Kong means planes are required to get anywhere, but I can’t wait to take her with us when we’re back in the UK, for a weekend in the countryside. It’s lovely seeing dogs out in nature sniffing things and having a great time.

  9. Oh, my, that is beautiful. We just returned from the island, and I miss it already. Nothing like a relaxing vacation somewhere beautiful and completely heavenly like that.

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