Being Prepared Can Allow for Spontaneity
September was (you might have missed it) National Preparedness Month. While the focus was on emergencies, being prepared in more pleasant facets of your life can, believe it or not, allow room for spontaneity.
Last week I headed north to visit my sister Meredith and her boyfriend Mike (a.k.a. M&M) in Portland, Maine. As an event planner, former chief of staff and older sister, it has always fallen on me to prepare the agenda. But last week, my baby sister (she may be 31, but I changed her diapers for goodness sake) held the clipboard. And you know what? Someone’s been paying attention.
Thursday, no sooner out of the car, Meredith had us taking a walk along the coast, lunch overlooking the harbor, and a tour of downtown. Back home, I took the reigns briefly to reorganize the basement and some closets. Dusk approached and Mike lit the fire pit in the backyard where we sat, wrapped in heavy sweatshirts and ate homemade chili under a beautiful night sky.
Friday began with a 30-mile bike ride by rolling hills, farms and a country fair complete with a Ferris wheel, plus a stop at an apple orchard for cider donuts. The evening plan was another night by the fire, but on a whim it was back to the fair to catch the traveling rodeo with real cowboys and cowgirls and saddle bronc riding, the sun setting in the distance. Dinner was last minute at Gather, a restaurant located in a former Masonic hall serving locally grown foods. Delicious.
Saturday we hit the farmer’s market before heading north to hike Mount Battie, the name derived from early explorers who had to have been just that. Scaling the steep boulders, I tried not to panic as Meredith, having sprinted to the top, yelled down, “I took you up the wrong way. Sorry!” But the breathtaking view from the peak was worth every lost fingernail; mountains on one side and tiny islands dotting the coast on the other. Heading down a safer (saner!) trail, we passed other smiling faces on that glorious day.
Dinner was at Long Grain, the best Thai food ever; each bite made sweeter by the memory of that godforsaken mountain. After dinner we took a quiet stroll by the harbor, before it was time to hug M&M goodbye. Sleep came quickly at The Country Inn; the cool, night air the perfect tonic.
Sunday morning, a long drive ahead, we left early, making time to stop at Walden Pond to visit the spot Henry David Thoreau once called home. Stepping inside the replica of his tiny hut, I thought of my 90 square foot apartment, and understood right away the draw of that sanctuary. Like Thoreau, even when your days are as programmed as his were preparing food, gathering wood, and writing; when you’re living with less stuff, your days can be filled with so much more.