Have you seen those vacation ads on TV and brochures where the vacationers are seen pictured on sun-filled, pristine beaches with cold frosty drinks in hand? The happy vacationers will be pictured walking on the white, sugar-like sand or lying in a hammock near the shore of a lake. The water is always clean and clear and the vacationers are always as relaxed as an overcooked linguine noodle.
These ads are created by fiction writers. I know because I just come back from a week at the lake and now I need a vacation.
Brunhilda and I had visions of the two of us being that carefree, happy couple in the brochure as we were about to embark on our own vacation However reality usually sets in early and signs of stress begin to show as early as the “planning” phase. Brunhilda and I, like most men and women, are different. Men would pack a toothbrush, beer, playing cards, beer, bait, beer, a clean pair of socks and underwear, and beer. They would also feel as if they are prepared for anything that may come up.
Women, on the other hand, do not merely pack – they move. Even every meal is planned and packed right down to the condiments and wine because you never know when you may end up in an area where you cannot purchase salt. Clothes for every occasion and variance in climate are packed and loaded. You could be on your way to vacation in a remote South American jungle and a woman would be able to go to her suitcase and bring out whatever would be needed to prepare crepes for the Queen’s masquerade ball in the middle of a blizzard. By the time we finished packing the car the night before we left, it looked like the same vehicle that the Clampetts drove into Beverly Hills. We were ready to head for the lake cabin.
Day One of the actual vacation started with Brunhilda up before five A.M. It was not eagerness to get started; however, that motivated her. She had awakened with a migraine headache. Now for those who have never experienced a migraine, think about the pain you feel when you eat your ice cream too fast and then multiply it by about ten and spread it over your entire head. Then throw in blurred vision and nausea for good measure. The morning was spent at the walk-in clinic. Brunhilde got an injection of something the doctor said would ease the pain and allow her to relax. It did the job. Twenty minutes later, I poured her into the car seat and set out for the lakes of Minnesota. Brunhilda was so relaxed that, by comparison, Rip Van Winkle bore a resemblance to Daffy Duck. The vacation had officially begun.
Day Two will be remembered as the day that the monsoons arrived. The thunder and lightning were memorable but did not make for an excellent brochure picture. It was a good day for reading and napping and Brunhilda was still a little groggy from the medication and was wondering how we got there and where we were.
Day Three also started early. Very early. Brunhilda, who could not sleep that night because she had slept too much in the preceding thirty-six hours was up at four in the morning reading a book while I was soundly and comfortably asleep. She then heard some rustling above her on one of the open wood beams and looked up to see two tiny beady eyes looking back down at her from above. I do not know what it is about the combination of a mouse and a woman, but women always seem to want to share the news and the experience with their spouse. Somewhere in the world, there has GOT to be a wife who, upon seeing a mouse, would wait until morning and then casually say: “I saw a mouse in the house last night.” Brunhilda is not that one. Brunhilda is one of those who opt for the more common way of notifying the sleeping husband: “AAAAAAUUUGH!!!! DOUG!!!! A MOUSE!!!!! AAAAAAAAUUUUUUGGGHHH!!”
As might be expected, this gently nuzzled me out of my sleeping reverie by lifting me six inches off the bed like a blast from a foghorn.
Day Four: Mouse hunt. Enough traps to turn the cabin into a mine field. Enough said.
Day Five: Rain.
Day Six: Sunny and warm. Things are looking up. Time to get out on the lake with the boat. The boat is out of gas. Make a trip to town to get gas for the boat. Brunhilda hands me a shopping list as she now feels that a gourmet meal is in order. Spend the afternoon in town shopping and looking for two-cycle engine oil to mix with the gas. Return with the needed items. The wind has come up and it is too windy to take the boat out. After supper, we go out together to the dock to watch the meteor shower that will take place in the sky. It is overcast. The mosquitos are in abundant supply. The meteors are not.
Day Seven: The week is over. Pack up to go home. It is a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the temperature is mild and the lake is calm.
Day Eight: Back at home. Unpack. Tomorrow is a workday. Start making plans for next year.