I am one-and-a-half days away from two weeks vacation. I am so close I can almost taste it.
It mostly tastes like a hot cup of Yorkshire Gold tea with a side of early morning birdwatching from the deck of our family cottage. I have an app for my phone that helps me identify the birds I see and hear and it is one of my favourite pieces of technology, and one of the only ones I’ll use consistently while on vacation.
It tastes like walks to the beach with the dog who, while she isn’t much of a water dog, does like to paddle a bit, provided there are no waves of any kind. For a wolf-type dog, she is surprisingly timid of tiny waves lapping at the shore. If we go early enough, the lake is often so still its mirror-like surface can trick you into thinking there is not water there at all. That is her favourite time. And mine.
It also tastes like pockets full of beach glass, the sand still sticking to their edges. After we rinse them, they find their home in one of several containers on a shelf in the cottage. Mason jars, vases, vintage milkshake glasses, all are bursting with the glass we find. Light blues and greens, milky whites and amber, the occasional cobalt blue and, even rarer, red. The collection has always seemed to be there, it has no discernible beginning.
Vacation tastes like the wild garlic that grows in the ditch along the road, too, a secret ingredient I can add to recipes. When I was little, it tasted like the wild strawberries that grew in the same ditch, but that have been missing for years now. Our neighbour would make wild strawberry jam and she’d send the kids up and down the road picking the tiny fruit, most no bigger than our small thumbnails. A good way to keep the kids occupied for a few hours, we’d return with bowls and baskets full and eventually we’d be rewarded with our own small jar of jam, usually in an old baby food jar with a disc of wax protecting the seal.
It also tastes like cold beer, directly from the place’s original refrigerator, a Westinghouse model from 1950. Apart from beverages right out of an ice-filled cooler, I haven’t yet met an appliance that works better at keeping beer colder. There are usually other drinks in this fridge of course, but it’s the beer than I can taste when I think of vacation, the beer that refreshes after yard work, the beer that we bring down to the beach and take in the water with us while we float and bounce around in the waves.
Vacation tastes like the memories of my fifty-five summers, plus the photographs that show fifteen summers prior to that. It tastes of pig roasts and corn roasts, of perch caught by my brother and I from the bow of our small aluminum boat then filleted (also by us) and fried (not by us) for dinner.
It tastes of starry nights, thunderstorms, and big winds and it tastes of beginnings and endings, of life and death, of celebration and of mourning.
And I am so, so ready.