by Jean Loxley-Barnard
How do most of us spend time off? I often think of a holiday as a time to get some work done. Unless I am scheduled to leave town. That is the only time I am truly work free.
Some great times include a two week drive into Vermont with my husband Terry. We love the Maple Leaf Inn in Barnard, Vermont, just outside Woodstock in ski country. That great time continues when we visit family near the historic Longfellow's Wayside Inn, west of Boston, on our way home.
But my happy list includes weekends at my sister's river house and short visits to nieces and nephews in Raleigh. For me, it is more than somewhere to go. It is someone to see.
I think I know now why so many of us want a weekend cottage or condo or campground to flee to. It is the only way we will get downtime. It works, by the way. My sister's river house began as that weekend cottage, a few hours from the large family home in a lovely village northwest of D.C.
After several years of getting away to a river cottage on the Northern Neck, they saw the advantage of the way of life in the Kilmarnock area. The cottage on the Rappahannock River became their smaller but very happy homestead. They never looked back.
I think I know
I grieved anticipating the big beautiful house leaving the family. It had been my refuge for many years. My sister, in her direct, cut-to-the-chase wisdom, said simply, "It's not the house, Jean, it is us. You will always have us." She was right. Now Terry and I drive two hours instead of four, without facing D.C. traffic, and visit with my sister and brother-in-law, sitting on the veranda, watching the river, just talking together.
What do people without close family or friends do? I would never be as happy sitting alone in a castle as I am sitting on a cottage veranda with those I love. It is always who we travel with and to that makes the time wonderful.
Could I downsize as much as my family members did? I'm beginning to hope so. I've seen how free they have become. We all become attached to "stuff," but the time comes to detach. One doesn't have to be eligible for Medicare to downsize. Picture living in an RV. Traveling to people and places far and wide in a house on wheels.
My brother-in-law's brain, always working wherever his computer is, may actually be, incredibly, more focused on the future than ever before. He is so thrilled with the Northern Neck's environment and possibilities that he is literally creating a whole new technology center there.
If I moved there, would I be likely to start another Shopper? Probably. So I'll do business here and consider a cottage somewhere I won't be tempted to work. Or just visit my sister. Nothing substitutes for great company.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.