I wrote this while on vacation but haven't had a chance to post it since that time! More to come.
“You’re a really bad vacationer.”
This is what my husband said to me as I plopped down next to him on the plastic wicker loveseat on the balcony of our beach rental. This is what he said to me as he drank the delicious French press coffee that I made for him. This is what he said to me as he enjoyed the triple berry scones (from this book) that I got up early and made for him and Lucy.
And he’s right.
I’m horrible at it. I’m not really sure why. We never vacationed like this when I was a kid – that is we didn’t take vacations where we laid around near a lake or ocean or mountain. Our vacations were destinations, an opportunity for my parents to expose us to the world outside of Oklahoma City. We went to Santa Fe, Boston, and Washington DC. And we went to Dallas. A lot. Shopping was abysmal in OKC so we made the 4 hour journey at least 4 times a year. But that’s another blog entry.
When I was a bit older, we flew to Maine for a few weeks each summer, staying with family friends. These were true vacations but by that time I was a sour teenager and couldn’t appreciate it. I just wanted to go to Freehold and do some shopping.
So now, at the ripe of age of 37, I take vacations. Real ones. To the beach, to Florida, to Maine and I’m just not good at it. I get anxious. I can’t relax. What to do when there is nothing to do?
So this is what I do. I cook, mostly bake. For a week or two before our annual vacations to a rental (either NJ or Maine), I peruse all of my favorite cookbooks and decide which treats I’m going to make. There are the staples: vegetable frittatas, chocolate chip cookies, blueberry muffins. And then there are the treats like this morning with the berry scones. Last year we made ice cream.
One of the reasons that my husband says that I’m a terrible vacationer is that when I get to said rental, I immediately go through the kitchen and figure out what they have and what they don’t. Then I lament to my husband who dutifully tells me to go to the store and just buy the baking sheet/measuring spoons/whisk or whatever it is that is lacking.
I did just that last night and bought all those things. Oh and a hand mixer too (who doesn’t have a mixer in the kitchen?) I woke early due to the pitter patter of rain and decided to get to work on breakfast. First I made the coffee. Then I started the scones. No food processor – no worries. My hands dug right in, kneading the butter into small pieces. I forgot to buy the buttermilk – no worries. A little lemon juice in 2%milk should do the trick. No currants – no problem. Chopped cranberries made a delightful substitution.
With the buzz of the coffee coming on, I was feeling pretty good. I turned on the oven. Mitch and Lucy were up by this point. I offered them fresh berries while they waited for the scones. All was well. Until I realized that the oven wasn’t working. Then the panic set in. No oven? How am I ever to relax without an oven? Others may come to the shore to body surf, build sandcastles or sunbathe but I come to bake! Mitch could sense that I was on the verge of tears and tried to calm me down but he knew that his efforts were futile so he went back out to the deck and suggested that I call the landlady.
After a bit of tinkering, we got the oven working. I could feel myself relax. The oven heated up beautifully, baking the scones to crisp perfection. While they baked, I brewed tea for my ice tea/lemonade drink.
So when I sat down with Mitch, even though everything had worked out ok, he could still feel the lingering tension. Of course, his observation only made me annoyed and defensive but then something else happened: I took Lucy on a bike ride. After that, I packed the two of us up for the beach (Mitch had to go to the city for a family funeral.). At the beach, I read Michael Polan’s article on food shows (another blog entry) and then helped Lucy make chocolate stew – my job consisted of walking back and forth to the ocean carrying pails of water. When it stated raining, we came home, took showers and then ate our snacks while we watched the downpour. And now, Lucy is doing princess watercolors and I’m writing. For fun. It feels great.
So I may be a bad vacationer but today I’m making the commitment to becoming a better one.