By Courtney Naliboff
That portmanteau word might seem like a consolation prize—a vacation born of a lack of funds or time, but it actually speaks to a period of relaxation and an opportunity to get to know your community as a person of leisure.
My family and I took a staycation, our first in years, this February. We have travel plans for April and spent Christmas and Chanukah in San Diego, and so didn’t feel the need to make any real effort for February break, other than a weekend off at the end visiting friends. So, while many were jetting to Puerto Rico or Florida, or heading to Augusta to cheer on our North Haven Hawks basketball team in the tournament, we relaxed at home.
The conventional wisdom is that there’s nothing to do on North Haven in the winter. How would we occupy our time? It turns out that there are plenty of lovely, quiet ways to spend a week at home, even if home is an unbridged island in the off season. I will confess that we spent the first weekend largely binge-watching Next in Fashion while Bill worked late on Vinalhaven, made particularly enjoyable by my daughter Penrose’s interpretations of the fashion challenges through her five-year-old eyes. Highlights included her take on streetwear, transcribed here for your enjoyment:
“My streetwear look would be like cool, fashionable, cool, fashionable, cool kid. Maybe a skull necklace or something? Maybe black high heels or something, or like a black shiny smooth leather something. Feel this table! It should feel like the table! And black tights or something. And a pony tail. That’s what streetwear looks like to me!”
Once we finished that project, there was the stack of books I had on my bedside table and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which I finished reading all 735 pages of aloud to Pen during break. But after a few days of reading and binge watching, it was time to get out and see what North Haven had to offer.
On Monday we headed to the projects building at the school for a few hours to help Dylan Jackson carve the timber frame that will eventually house our school’s Minke whale skeleton. I learned how to use a sander and a chisel, Penrose learned how to use a hand planer (and that a hand planer blade is in fact very sharp; she’s fine), and Bill got to use a chainsaw mortiser.
Two hours passed quickly in the meditative practice of peeling thin shavings of wood away to reveal the desired perfectly smooth surface. As the sun set, we went down the street to see a friend’s sap boiling operation, sampling frozen sap and the delicious warm liquid caught halfway between sap and syrup.
On Tuesday morning we ate Kate’s donuts, accompanied by black tea and slices of cheddar cheese, at the church, followed by a long meeting while Penrose made origami with a friend. That evening, Bill went to a film screening hosted by North Haven Brewery as part of their Pub Theology programming.
Penrose and I both got haircuts on island on Wednesday and went for a short walk in the relative warmth. Thursday we made a trip to Turner Farm to buy vegetables from their self-serve fridge and visit the pigs, who obligingly came right up to the wire fence to snort hello. We headed up North Shore road to buy a dozen eggs from another farm and started packing for our brief off-island foray the next day.
During the work week, I don’t always have time to buy my vegetables from the farm and say hello to the pigs. A haircut might feel too luxurious to try to sneak in around meetings and rehearsals. We’re often too tired and busy with making dinner, homework and practicing to go out again after work. Until recently, the sun set too early for an afternoon walk. Our little staycation gave us the space to enjoy North Haven’s quiet joys.
Courtney Naliboff is a teacher and musician on North Haven.