Holiday or Vacation – Welcomed Retreat from Vacation Country
We live in one and now we visit another. Here’s our home that we have left for Manitoba.
The Stanford Inn at Dusk
We are in Matlock, Manitoba, Canada on vacation or as they say in Manitoba, “on holiday.” Manitobans have it right: a vacation is a holiday – or holy-days – and they are for us. These days are special. There are few interruptions. (When we first are on the road, there are lots of calls from the Inn. They taper as members of our staff get their footing – something we hope they remember when we return.)
Murphy retrieving a stick on Lake Winnipeg
At home, which is the Inn, we work seven days a week providing little time for reflection and meditation. When we are here, on the same short street on which Joan spent her summers as a child, we visit relatives and friends. The family cottage is rustic. Joan does art and I write and we sit on the veranda, listening to birds and our streams of thought. Television doesn’t work well and is not a diversion. We cook and do dishes here. We have time for neither at home. We ride bicycles, throw sticks into the lake for Murphy and Ellie to chase. Today, we are watching a thunderstorm moving in from the northwest.
Ellie dragging a stick onto the beach.
It is during these summer holidays that we write (I write, Joan consults) the Stanford Inn blog. Ironically, it is about lifestyle issues on the Mendocino Coast, yet the best time and usually about the only time to contribute to it is when we are not on the Mendocino Coast. Innkeeping is a fulltime, consuming job. We aren’t corporate. We oversee as much of the inn as we can. We have to: after 30 years, we have lost and are losing staff to retirement and relocation. Finding and training their replacements is not easy. The economy is not diversified and there are fewer qualified people to work.
Forest “liquidation” closed the mills; over fishing has substantially destroyed the once vibrant Fort Bragg fishing industry; manufacturing and distribution business were sold to larger companies and moved east. The service businesses that once serviced these industries are gone. And the economy is now singularly focused on visitor services. The area is shrinking: Mendocino school enrollment is just about ½ of that when our kids were in school.
The Mendocino Coast is languishing in the backwater of mainstream American economic life – pretty much just how we found it in the 1970′s. However, when we moved here in 1980 we were not alone: many others were moving here, too, to work in the woods, fish, make art, create fine furniture, build businesses. Most of our generation of émigrés are still here, but our children have left to make lives for themselves in other areas – ironically in the major cities – San Francisco, Los Angeles, and, surprisingly, New York City and Washington D.C. – many of us left.
Perhaps the Mendocino Coast will experience a resurgence newcomers who will invigorate the arts, create new businesses, and repopulate our schools and villages as in the 1970′s and 80′s.