August is draining away into September. In future years, the flurry of back-to-school will engulf our lives, and summer will feel more like that three-month stretch rather than an endless stream of warm and warmer days.
But not yet. We took advantage of our final “free summer” and extremely flexible work schedules to disappear into the woods of Wisconsin for a week. No computer, no endless email answering, no Twitter. Sure, sleeping in was nonexistent thanks to my son’s early bird tendencies, but sitting out on the river’s edge with a cup of coffee as the sun warms up? A no-brainer tradeoff.
It was almost remarkable how easy it was to unplug. Only on our drive home did I realize that I didn’t do any of the writing I had intended, nor did I remember to pull out the video camera and do the vlog episode I had wanted. We settled into a rhythm of eating, exploring, relaxing, fishing, and reading. I hadn’t been making time for reading. The first night in our cabin, I opened the new biography of Julia Child and fell into it. Every night after we put Reese to sleep, we sat on the sofa, reading our respective books for hours in the quiet of the night. Most nights I was asleep by 10, ready to get up again at 7 and see to a new adventure.
Fishing, as it turns out, is something I love. Grand plans were laid for the boys to catch our suppers, but the river fish didn’t respond to trick lures, and even once nightcrawlers were speared, no luck was had on the water. That is, until I grabbed one of the poles.
Despite my husband fishing for an hour and getting nothing, five minutes into my attempt resulted in a bite, and I reeled in our first catch of the trip. Reese was beside himself with glee, while my husband grumped. Cliché as it is, I was hooked, and while my short-attention-spanned child wandered back into the house, I set another worm into the water, soon after pulling out a small striped bass.
Hours later, after a trip to a nearby beach, I decided to fish again – after all, we had the worms. Shock and adrenaline took hold when, about 10 minutes into it and a split second after a new casting, a 15-pound catfish took hold. We engaged in the standard epic battle of (wo)man versus fish, with him trying to twist the line around and under the dock, and me reeling and holding strong enough to make sure nothing broke (or that I ended up in the murky water). He was netted, photographed, and tossed back, just like the other fish I caught that day, though my heart continued to pound long after.
Moments like that might not seem special if you’re not unplugged. If I had dedicated myself to typing away during vacation, I probably wouldn’t even have put a hook in the water. Sleeping in wouldn’t have let us watch a beaver breakfast on freshly fallen acorns mere paces from our little house. Rigidly structuring our time wouldn’t have allowed my son to connect with his grandfather and great-grandfather, the latter of whom I’m unwilling to admit is finally older than the 2 he always told me.
I hadn’t spent a real chunk of time in Wisconsin since I lived there 14 years ago, and returning solidified my suspicions. No matter how long I live in Texas, I’ll always be a Northern girl, conversing with chipmunks, plucking raspberries from the bush, and gazing out over the lake.