Monday, August 01, 2011

Perfect Weekend

(An homage to “Perfect Weekend,” my favorite column in How To Spend It, the weekend magazine in The Financial Times)

Whenever we have the chance, we escape the city for Andrew’s ancestral homestead far in the country. The weekend really doesn’t start for us until we are finally on the road, Lucia asleep in the backseat; we always drive straight through and get to Holdenfield round midnight. We unload the baby and unpack the bags and then read for a bit before the crickets and frogs lull us to sleep.

We’re up early Saturday and breakfast on some coffee, English muffins, and fruit. There are no papers to read, so we sit at the farmhouse table and look out at the early-morning mist settling over the barn. When the sun starts warming up the fields we head outside for a walkabout round the land. The back field, which has been freshly mown for hay, is walkable at this time of year, and we wander about behind the treeline where the meadow grows wild. Perhaps we’ll stroll through the meadow and come round the pond the back way; perhaps we’ll attempt to do so and find our way blocked by fallen trees and muddy expanses of woods. Regardless, we’ll emerge eventually onto the road and check each other for ticks, the baby screaming bloody murder the whole time.

Afternoons are for lunch in town. Our favourite spot is a pizza restaurant where the baby can stand up in a booth and watch local boys play pool in the gameroom, allowing us to have civilised conversation as we eat. After lunch we’ll stroll down the main street to an ice cream parlor and sit outside with our cones.

While the baby naps we read outside, looking out at the pond—or we would, if we’d be able to hear the baby; instead, we read inside and sometimes fall asleep, each on our own couch. (Sharing a couch is impossible since I am so enormous.) When the baby wakes after an hour, we take her for a swing under the apple tree and then go along with her hysterical shrieks of “POND!” The baby and I sit on the floating dock and put our toes in the water while Andrew goes fully in and pulls out armfuls of slimy, hideous, flat algae lined underneath with a clear, gelatinous film.

Saturday night is the best time of the weekend. Once the baby is asleep we round up some cheese, crackers, and fruit and sit outside looking out over the fields, warming ourselves by the roaring fire in the fire pit and then making s’mores. We talk of property and plans. When the fire burns out we spread a blanket on the grass and look up at the Milky Way until strange coyote-like cries send us (me) fearfully inside.

On Sunday we visit a local farmer’s market and then once again stop for ice cream before heading back to round up our things and prepare to return home. The drive to the city is always very, very long and late and exhausting. But it is always a perfect weekend nonetheless.

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