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Making the most of an autumn weekend



Sometimes my weekday life feels too busy by half. Between the commitments of work, family, friends and routine household and garden projects, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. By the time Friday afternoon rolls around, I sometimes wish I could just turn off my phone, turn off my brain, sit down quietly with an umbrella drink and watch the river flow.

But of course, weekends are busy, too, especially this time of year, when the temperatures are cooling down, the foliage is heating up and everyone’s mindful of the hunker-down season ahead. And, while I sometimes long for a little thumb-twiddling time, it’s delicious to know that I’ve made the most of the weekend, or at least that I’ve been receptive to the good fortune and serendipity that’s blown my way.

This has been that kind of weekend – filled to the brim with life and love, work and play, just a little too busy and worth every second of it.

Friday evening, Douglas’ older daughter arrived at our house, along with her husband and Hazel, our 15-month-old granddaughter. Although they live in southern Maine, we don’t see them nearly enough. I am always grateful that this solid old farmhouse has a first-floor guest room with an adjoining bathroom, making it easy to welcome friends and family for an overnight or longer. Hazel and her parents had many visits to make this weekend, but it was great to have them headquartered with us.

Saturday morning after breakfast, Douglas and I walked with Hazel to the beach. She’s been walking for three months now and grows in confidence and independence every time we see her. Our trek down the long driveway, into the woods across the road and down the steep steps to the sunny beach was slow but uneventful. We spent more than an hour exploring the water’s edge. Hazel enjoyed throwing acorns into the shallows. Douglas enjoyed helping her. I enjoyed watching the two of them. Time slowed to an elegant pace.

In the afternoon, I had time to work on an old chair I’m refinishing. It’s been kicking around the family summer cottage in Harpswell for years, and I finally decided to bring it home and give it some love. So far, I’ve stripped off the old finish, sanded it smooth and, with Douglas’ help, glued down some splintery bits on the bentwood arms. Saturday, I stained it a rich piney brown and prepared to apply a coat of polyurethane. I enjoyed working quietly, alone, out in the barn with the sun streaming in the door.

Saturday evening, we had dinner with friends in Belfast. We brought along a fresh green salad, and a jar of dilly beans to swap for one of theirs. We drank an end-of-summer gin and tonic on the deck with our coats on and the moon rising round and orange in the eastern sky. We watched the International Space Station go blasting silently overhead at 17,000 miles per hour, give or take. Dinner was excellent and the talk unfettered, as conversation with good friends should be.

Sunday morning, Douglas’ other daughter arrived with her sweetheart and we served everyone a big breakfast of waffles and homemade applesauce. As the conversation transitioned lazily into favorite family stories and old memories, I slipped out the back door with Hazel for a walk through the tall grass to the white-raspberry patch, where a few sweet, pale berries lingered among the dying canes. We explored the grape vine, too, and I learned that this intrepid granddaughter has a taste for the sour flesh and crunchy pits of our under-appreciated grapes. We gazed long at the bugs in the grass and the crows in the trees and I felt hopeful that Hazel and her Grandma Meg will forge a loving and enduring relationship.

Then everyone left. Douglas and I made thick tomato sandwiches for our lunch, loaded up a daypack with drinking water and sweaters and headed up the coast to climb Black Mountain in Hancock County. It proved to be a just-right challenge of a hike, with stunning views from open ledges over the public lands around Tunk Lake and Donnell Pond. It was a sweet spot from which to appreciate the blazing October foliage stretching off in every direction, and to contemplate the richness of our lives.

Could I have had a more restful weekend, with fewer moving parts? Probably. Could it have any more restorative, pleasurable and re-energizing? Not on your life.


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