Last week, I planned to board a bus and head for the city center. The art museum was displaying a dozen, old upright pianos that had been ornamented with the work of local artists. After the viewing, musicians would treat the audience to a piano concert. Unfortunately, I had the wrong date and the only consolation I could find for my idiocy was that I hadn’t been rushing to catch a flight to Paris or Rome.
Frankly, I’m glad to have my traveling days behind me. When young, I saw much of the world, but as I approach 80, I admit I prefer to stay put. So much can go wrong when a person ventures out, like marking down a wrong date, for example. But there are other hazards, too. Decisions about what to pack; how much money to carry safely; or going through the tedium of updating my passport.
Some of my friends make life easy by taking a cruise. Getting lost on a ship is difficult, they assure me, but I’m not so sure.
Until technology advances to the point where I can say, “Beam me aboard to Paris, Scotty,” I’m inclined to leave traveling to others. There’s so much to be said for a Staycation. The price is right, for one. And it’s eye opening to view one’s home town as if you were a tourist. Take for example the piano concert I almost missed. When I finally arrived on the right day and time, I found myself sitting in the out-of-doors on a warm night and sheltered by a canopy of trees. Around me, dogs and children as well as music aficionados swayed to the strains of Chopin, Brahms and a little night music. Surely, the smile on my lips was as pleasurable as any I might have worn at a concert in London or Paris, and it cost me no more that the price of a bus ticket.
Hallie Levine offers tips on the art of the Staycations. (“Break for Summer,” by Hallie Levine, Better Homes and Gardens, July 2016, pgs 118.120) Most of her suggestions you can already guess, but here a few I especially like. Buy a large hammock, if you don’t already have one, big enough to accommodate a kid or two and a large dog so you can read aloud to them. Even a cat might trouble itself to listen. And by any and all means, stay away from the kitchen. Absent travel expenses, you can afford to treat yourself to takeout or home delivery, as well as a few fine dining experiences. Consider hiring a housecleaning service to vacuum and dust, while you cool yourself with the grandkids in a wading pool in the back yard. And don’t forget the art museum. How long has it been since you paid a visit? Or amble through the dusty shelves of a used bookstore. So many writers are waiting to whisk you away on an adventure. Of course, you mustn’t forget a nice bottle of wine. Empty as many as you can for any social occasion. That’s my recipe for a happy summer Staycation.
(Originally posted 7/11/16)