Do we become new people on vacation?
Is there some sort of Renaissance of self where we become the people we’re too busy to be in ordinary time?
People of wonder. People of awe opened wide. Happy-ending believers and beauty receivers. Folks who’ve found their appetite for life again and eat their fill of hope and happy with a second-helping of possibility.
People who promise life back at home will be better than it’s been.
I spent some time wandering around the 45th parallel this week. New Hampshire’s largest and northernmost town, Pittsburg’s wilderness spreads out in 291.2 square miles of postcard picture perfect.
I want to describe it for you with words like serene, silent, and still. And I could just as easily write words like wild, isolated, and remote. Settled as Indian Stream Republic in 1832 and incorporated as the town of Pittsburg in 1840, this crown of New Hampshire’s Great North Woods blesses beauty upon wanderers, adventurers, hunters, fishermen, and solitude-seekers alike.
Four hours from home, Pittsburg is a far-flung distance from my day-to-day in more ways than I can number.
Perhaps I romanticize this place where Christmas trees are born and the air perpetually smells of balsam. This place where loons call back and forth across the glitter of a lake and I count more ducks than people. This place where moose and deer and bear walk the same trails I do.
I know I haven’t mentioned that I packed some anxiety along with my toothbrush and bathing suit, or that I felt fiercely afraid brushing my waist-high way through thick raspberry bushes for fear I’d startle a mama bear and her cubs. You need to know I washed dishes and folded laundry and made the bed, just like always. I worried about my children and loved my husband deeply — as though each day was like any other day in ordinary time.
But in Pittsburg, the sun rose and set just out my back door, measuring my hours in a purity of grace that’s sometimes hard to feel at home.
Common sense tells me every trail I walk, no matter where it is or how easy it looks, has roots and rocks I might trip over. I know Pittsburg’s wintered hardships, beauty-filled as they may be, are only a season away. And I understand life up there’s bound to clutter up and cloud over from time to time just like it does down south.
Truthfully, there is a mood shift between vacation’s arrival and departure. My ideals are polished and my dreams dusted off.
My resolve reaffirmed, I believe again in the extraordinary to be found in each and every ordinary day I’m granted, whether here — or there.
And I’ll be looking for it.