Sunday, April 19, 2009

Unplugging the stress machine

Last week I decided to slip out of New York, suitcase full of books and heart full of hope that I could unplug from my everyday life for a few days.

It was the first real vacation I’d had in almost three years. Yes, I’ve had time off, but it was devoted to weddings or playing Hostess with the Mostest to a variety of visitors. All were wonderful, fun experiences, but none of them provided the opportunity to just “be,” without demands or expectations.

So I boarded the train for Schenectady, watched the Hudson River pass by my window, and started to breathe in a different way. By the time I’d made my way to Wyndbourne (thanks for picking me up, Nancy), a bed and breakfast in Galway, I knew I’d chosen the right way to unwind.

I was the only guest at the 1790’s farmhouse. Two libraries, the fireplace reading areas, front porch, bathrooms, wooded acreage – all to myself! Wyndbourne doesn’t have wifi, and I never went near the one television downstairs, so I really did “unplug” the whole time I was there. Nancy and Ralph kept me well-fed and gave me access to the kettle, stove, and a huge collection of tea, so I never went hungry (or un-tea’d). A comfortable bed with flannel sheets, feather pillows, and a down comforter ensured solid sleep. In short, all things came together, including the weather, which was beautiful the whole time.

And how did I spend my days? Reading, reading, reading. I ambitiously packed five books and finished three. I moved around from front porch to kitchen fireplace area to upstairs library – always with a cup of tea steaming next to me – to enjoy all the comfort zones the Wyndbourne offered. I never missed TV or the internet. I just disappeared into the books.

But once in a while I needed to get out and stretch my legs. Nancy had gotten permission for me to have access to the neighbors’ woods, so I had a lovely place to tramp around and explore. The air was fresh and the walks invigorating, which cleared my mind for more reading!

The only time I left the B&B was for a trip into Saratoga Springs, where we explored Lyrical Ballad Bookstore for over an hour, had a great pub burger, and toured the town. (Yes, I saw the racetrack.) A lovely town, plus two more books (thanks, Lyrical) – not a bad morning’s work!

Saw a yellow-bellied sapsucker (true!), geese, ducks, chipmunks, and lots of stars at night. Read three books. Drank lots of tea and some excellent wine. Lots of good food. No TV. No internet. No phone calls. Slowly the gray matter started regenerating and the heart rate slowing down.

My advice: Unplug. Read. Walk in the woods. Watch a yellow-bellied sapsucker through binoculars. Get back to yourself.


jomoore said...

Oh my goodness, what a wonderful place - how did you find it?

I can't think of anything better than a few days of no commitments, when gazing into space is a perfectly acceptable way to spend an hour or so.

Good for you, Mary. Don't leave it three years until the next time...

Liz Hinds said...

That sounds just wonderful! Perfect. So glad you were able to unwind.