This is the summer of our staycation. With the coronavirus still on the rise across the United States, we decided it was not wise to travel. It has been a difficult decision—letting go of our annual Granny Camp with the grandchildren and visiting my mother and a long-planned dream to visit family in Alaska and kayak Prince William Sound.
We know plenty of people who have decided to travel. This is not a commentary on whether this is right or wrong or a debate about flying vs. driving vs. camping. These are times of calculated risks for all of us and to the best of our abilities we weigh the risks vs. the rewards and act accordingly.
This is a blog about some wonderful, unexpected joys of remaining home this summer.
There has been a different pace to life. We don’t “bop” to the store to pick something up. We wait until we have quite a list, because it is a big deal to mask up and then bring everything home and sanitize it. We often travel via bike to do our errands like checking the post office box, because we have more time.
It is very exciting to have someone come over to visit because we have to plan ahead for a nice day so we can be out on the patio and remain socially distant. No one has actually come inside our house since the first lock down here in early March. As dog walkers in our neighborhoods, we take the time to stand socially distant and visit with someone who is weeding or just porch sitting. We have gotten to know several neighbors on the adjacent street that we did not know before. Speed and efficiency are definitely not very important this summer.
The garden is a special source of joy this year. I don’t think we have necessarily raised more beans or squash or blueberries or garlic, but I have experienced greater joy in the act of tending. For sure the carrot seedlings in the garden and the tomatoes on the porch are getting more regularly watered.
I was part of our Audubon pigeon guillemot study. These are wonderful, orange-footed seabirds that nest on the cliffs below our home. Once a week during nesting season I have gotten up at 6 a.m. and sat below the cliff nests on our beach and carefully counted how many fish deliveries/hour the adults make. There are dozens of Whidbey Island Audubon members doing this below bluffs all over the island. The organization has been doing this for 10 years and thanks to their scientific diligence, several other Audubon chapters in the region have begun their own studies. This has given scientists some important, previously unavailable data about these birds.
It has been a good summer to be a salmon fisherwoman. Well, the silvers(Coho salmon) are not exactly running yet but being a shore caster early in the morning has its own special joys like baby seals coming out of the water and taking a nap ten feet from my feet or watching the red, orange sunrises on the mountains of the Olympic peninsula. Actually, I have already caught one Coho. My father, the fisherman, trained me well. He would be proud.
We camped at a state park on our island. This was our 9-month old puppy’s first camping trip and she came through with flying colors—did not bark at neighboring campers too much and slept through the night! Sleeping outdoors gives one a different perspective of home. One night I had a hard time going to sleep. I slipped quietly out of the tent to look at a star-filled sky through towering old growth Douglas fir trees. There was not one sound in the entire 55-unit campground. Everyone from the ten-year-old boys that were racing around on their bicycles to the older couples in their RVs to the teenagers celebrating a birthday two sites over was quiet. Asleep, sheltered by the trees, trusting in the absolute safety around them. It was a holy moment that I will treasure for a very long time in this chaotic and often not-so-kind world.
Even though we have lived here for 26 years, we made some unusual nature discoveries. One day on a low tide walk we discovered a moon snail carefully laying its eggs in its industrial looking sand collars. Another day we came upon a garter snake trying to eat a slug! Within minutes the young snake let go of its unusual prey, realizing the numbing effect of the slime. The snake rubbed its head back and forth through the dirt to rid itself of that horrible sensation. Probably will not try that again!
It’s been a cool, wet summer here. Our little puppy had another first—kayaking. Mostly she was patient for her hour-long ride, but then she hopped out into the water and was ready to run and play on her very own four legs. Enough lap sitting!
Home improvement projects are generally not thought of as part of vacation, but it brings us joy to tend this little corner of the planet. Having a whole summer home has enabled us to get totally up to date on all outside staining projects—which frees us up to feel more energy for riding bikes, camping, kayaking, and hiking!
Conclusion—It is a very serious time on the planet. Many more people will die because of the pandemic. Economies are crashing. The racial and economic injustices in the world are made ever more visible during this time. This summer makes my white privilege ever more obvious to me. HOWEVER, ordinary people like myself are doing the best we can to find joy and bring kindness into the world. And, ultimately, this is the thread that holds everything together.
I appreciate hearing how you be, Annie! Were I to write a blog, my post would be much the same as yours. Feels good to be quiet and kind of contemplative while the hurricane of world affairs spins all around us. This feels like a “breathe in” moment, before the Fall and all it will bring surrounds us. I suspect that whatever serenity we will be able to muster will be called upon in upcoming days. Love to you and Christina! XO :oD
Yes, to storing our serenity for using most any day someone needs a bit more patience and love.
Thank you for sharing your own special experiences. I appreciated knowing that garter snakes don’t really eat slugs due to the numbing effect of the slime. Plus many more insights you’ve described.
You are most welcome, Prescott. Truly, finding that moon snail laying its egg case in the water under our feet was a big thrill.
Lovely and inspiring, Ann. Thank you for the bright side. Also, I did not know that about slug slime! And, speaking of slugs, I have observed unbefore observed slug behavior this summer: eating and mating/egg laying! Because I have been in my backyard woods more. 💜
Here is to moving at the pace of slugs (-:
I’ve called this “the summer of deepening,” meaning that I now do everything with more forethought and more attention/intention. My ability to give my full attention to my life and to others has deepened considerably because my circle has grown smaller and my quality of attention is spread less thin, therefore, what others get from me (and I get from myself) is deeper and richer. I’m grateful for this. There are losses attached to this practice of deepening. I miss friends, and above all I miss the simple act of hugging my grandchildren (and my adult children) close to my heart. And, while I dearly hope the time will come when we can resume hugging the ones we love, I’m quite content to observe my quality of attention to life grow deeper and hold more meaning. Thank you, Ann, for this beautiful, thoughtful piece.
And, thank you, Meredith for adding your own wisdom about the “summer of deepening”.
always an inspiration, dear Ann. What a rich life and as always you’re educating us…
Warmest earth regards back to you!
Thank-you for a friendly window into your Staycation summer, Ann. Simple pleasures nourishing deeply. Green blessings, EagleSong
And I know you know the simple pleasure of green blessings!
Thank you for sharing the beautiful, small moments of island wonder. Glimmering stars through old growth forest, napping baby seals, snake vs. slug… I appreciate your keen eye and warm heart. Miss seeing you!
Also miss seeing you and trust you are well. Greetings across the big waters.
Great photos I especially liked the color coded rocks did you sdo that?
I wish I could take credit for the rock art. Whoever did it was very clever. It is on a beach log near the bottom of our stairs. And that is part of the fun—they left it as a mysterious gift for everyone.
” doing the best we can to find joy and bring kindness into the world. And, ultimately, this is the thread that holds everything together” – so true, Ann and Christina. Thank you for a glimpse into your staycation. We, too, have been taking in local sites, exploring the beauty that is our own backyard.
And that brings ME great reassurance. Thank you for writing.
The most wonderful and unexpected joy for me this year has been the lesson of patience I’ve learned from the birds. I could spend an hour just watching the herons in their awkward grace. I have spent full mornings listening to the birds call and learning to follow their songs into the marsh or thickets or trees. When the world shut down and my hiking trails closed, it was the birds that reached out. Such generosity ! “A small, good thing” as Ray Carver might say. Thanks for sharing your good stuff.
Such a beautiful sharing to let us know how the bird reached out and opened the world at a time when all seemed closed. Thank you.
Lovely summer adventures, Ann. Ours have been similar. It’s been a summer much more like my childhood-slow, simple, connected to beauty and mystery, gardens, woods and sea. Love to you both!
Yes, it has been more like my childhood. However, I know when I was a kid I certainly was not thinking about the state of the world and our country. And when I get too bogged down by that, I spend time watching our corgi puppy play with her best friend—another corgi puppy. And great joy, laughter, and happiness return.
How lovely to see the richness and varied activities of your life during this time. Love the one of you with the fish, Anne! And you in the kayak, Christina, with the dog! We mention you often here at SoulWinds. remembering your visit and our hike through the stones of Northern Ontario…Thanks indeed for sharing such beautiful scenes from your daily life…Brenda and Joan
Wonderful remembrance of that time hiking together! Here is to the incredible healing power of nature— then, now, and always.
A lovely post. You are so fortunate to live where kayaking and beach walks are right outside your door. I know the sorrow of not seeing family during this time, but your lives are so rich and full and I’m sure you are finding ways to share that with your mother and grandkids from afar. Hugs to you and Christina.
Thank you, Laura. Thinking of you so far away and trusting you are managing things as Europe begins again to flare up with the virus. Like you, we do deeply appreciate our home and the holding of Nature around us.
Coming to this sharing late but wanted to say – I just loved this story of staycation! Robert and I spent a week doing the same, and was it ever fun! Part of the staycation was keeping our computers turned off – what nature you can hear and see when you walk away for a time. The great outdoors, even in the city was a gift that nourished, just as you beautifully shared with words and photos. And so true – what joy and refreshment of soul we can find not going too far. Thank you, Ann for sharing this story of making the best of it. We will need this practice for a while more, I am afraid. xxx. p.s. Frances is very jealous of Vivi for being able to go kayaking. She so wants to as well!!! Lovely seeing Vivi growing up so.
Yes, I believe the practice of Staycations will be with us for awhile. Dogs of all sizes love it and it deepens our presence in our own communities.