Spring break all those years ago…

Every year about this time…

Iimages-1.jpegt’s officially spring, according to the calendar, even though it’s still not very warm yet. However, local forecasts say that we’re supposed to enjoy temperatures near 60° today, but they could have fooled me. I’ll believe it when I feel it!

Anyway, it’s that time of the year when the mass exodus to parts warm and sunny begins in earnest for folks in the northern climes. It’s called spring break. And though we just returned from our own wonderful sojourn to warm and sunny Florida and Texas, I can’t help but think about all of those other spring breaks to Florida we enjoyed for so many years during my teaching career.

And we definitely had the spring break ritual down pat as we prepared to get on down to Florida, year after year. It was always the same: Carolyn, our two kids, and dog(s), would be waiting in my school’s parking lot at 3:00 on the final Friday before spring break.

As soon as the last bell would sound, I would hurry out of school, hop in behind the wheel of our waiting van, and start out on our twenty-four hour drive—straight through—down to Stuart, and later Sarasota, Florida, where Carolyn’s mom and dad resided.

We were young then and were never daunted by the wear and tear that a straight-through drive like that inflicts on a person! That was always part of the adventure, I thought.

Furthermore, trying to leave Chicagoland at 3:00 on the Friday at the start of spring break was (and still is, I would imagine!) basically insane. It was always a slow crawl as we edged along, reaching the tollway to connect to I-65 and points south.

Of course, it seemed as though everyone else under the sun was doing the same thing. And if there were other factors, such as construction issues or ridiculous drivers, our pace was slowed even more.

Regardless, there was always a  sort of festive atmosphere amongst the passengers in our 2190748.jpgFord Econoline all those years ago, and we knew that every turn of the tires took us that much closer to our sunny southern destination and a week’s worth of fun and sun.

Writing this now from our small town in northern Illinois, I feel a million miles away from those exciting days when spring break rolled around. If nothing else, it was an annual family adventure, laden with laughter, nonsense, and togetherness.

Perhaps thinking such thoughts this morning is another little sign that I’m realizing my status as a senior citizen (how can that be, really?). And, I suppose, there’s that inevitable stream of nostalgia that tends to creep in to my daily life more and more frequently.

Both kids grew up, married, have lives of their own now. We see them—never as often as I’d like—but that’s how it goes in this wonderful pageant that is life. Carolyn’s mom and dad had to give up their Florida place several years ago due to failing health. They’re both gone now, and it never seems quite right being in Florida without their presence. And it can truly be said that they made spring breaks a wonderful thing for us—for so many years!

And maybe that’s why each year about this time, recalling those many spring break adventures, and the long, long drives involved, is so special. If it were possible, I would love to be eagerly anticipating 3:00 this coming Friday in my old school’s parking lot. Alas, I’ll have to settle for the rembrances of another time.

Happy spring break, lucky ones…daytonabeach.png


Another year older…wiser?

I type this from my quaint cottage in Michigan one day after my birthday. And though I’ve reached an age that always seemed to me to mean “old timer” status, to be honest,  I don’t feel much different having reached that state of decrepitude (is this a word?) than I did when I celebrated every June 11 in glorious summers past. I still have many of the same interests I did when I was young and lithe and full of vim and vigor (and a few other things as well). There have always been summers of White Sox baseball, books to read, and family. And this summer is certainly no different.

This past weekend was spent with the most important people in my life: My wife, my son and daughter, my son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and my two wonderful grandsons. Because my birthday fell on a Monday this year, they all came for the weekend to play in the lake, to enjoy a terrific summer cookout dinner on Saturday night, and to spend the time helping me turn over another chapter in my life. For that, I am most grateful and couldn’t have received any better present!

As always, the time flew by much too quickly before the kids and grandkids all had to scamper back to their respective homes and jobs to start another week, leaving me to maintain my status as caretaker here at the cottage. Even the good wife had to head back this afternoon, following a nice birthday lunch with good friends up the road in Coloma.

So now, I catch my breath, plan out my duties for the week, get back to reading those summer books, and appreciate my new age. I suppose I should be proud and honored to have reached this ripe, old age. I think of those who never had the opportunity—luck—to make it this far (my dad being a perfect example). I count my blessings on a daily basis and am thankful for all that I have been given in this life.

With age, they say, comes wisdom. I would hope that I have attained some semblance of being wiser as well, but that probably remains to be seen. The jury is probably still out on that one. Sure, I still carry around too much weight on this year-older body, and I am very guilty for not getting enough daily exercise. And I tend to get careless when it comes to eating right. Those areas still need attention, and I’m hoping that being a year older will boost my wisdom level enough for me to attend to those things. But one thing is certain: this past weekend was a true joy. It was fun turning another year older, and perhaps wiser, with all of the important and precious people with me. I hope it will be as good next year at this time…CortlandWriter