Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cashing in return tickets?

Probably not, but I can definitely see why so many cruisers got this far and never left.

On a secluded beach on the East side of Vava'u, Tonga

We've explored the Vava'u island by kart, then swam with the whales the next day. Yesterday was the opening day of the Vava'u Regatta, followed by a Pub Crawl through the town, Mardi Gras style.

Michael, far left, swimming with a Momma whale and her calf
Today is a traditional Tongan feast, complete with the poor little suckling pig that was probably just running across the lawn at the Port of Refuge Villas where we're staying.  Sundays are a mandatory day of family, church and rest in Tonga. Apparently no shops are allowed to be open, other than the bakery (which is the day they bake, I guess).

Tomorrow I teach my first Zumba class here as the Regatta goes into full bore race/party.

What's really bizarre is that today is the Spring Solstice here, which is tomorrow for y'all on the other side of the planet, and it's Fall for you. Love it!

Very lightweight internet signal so this is just a quick post to say that Tonga is fantastic, and yes, we're still coming back to the States in another week with lots of photos, videos and stories to tell.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A change of season, a change of plans

This is the first time we've been at our cottage at Seneca Lake in Upstate New York after Labor Day in about, oh, 40 years or more.

The end of the fresh veggies and the beginning of the grapes
We could feel the season changing --- shorter days, the bright colors of the early leaves changing, the last of the best sweet corn ever, treasuring the freshness of every last slicing tomato.

It was probably the hottest summer on record (again) in Upstate New York and it made for an endless summer of boating and swimming and generally finding ways to cool down. For all of you who poo-poo the difference between 90 degrees of dry heat and 90 degrees of humid heat, just try it out for yourselves. Ninety-five degrees and 80 percent humidity just sits on your chest and diaphragm and makes you seek shade near the coolness of the lake with a cold drink in your hand. Productivity diminishes as the temperature rises. Most of the houses in our area don't have air conditioning --- nor have they ever needed it.

Until now.

But the demarcation of Labor Day is still like a 'before and after' of summer. It was hot, hot, hot. Then the switch flipped and it was cold, cold, cold. Low of 42. High of 62. And now I get how the locals love the change of seasons. Pull out the fleece, make a cup of tea, and ho ho! Our energy is back and frisky, just like all the dogs that have gone from panting in the shade of the park to leaps and frolics.


As we started to shut down the lake cottage, getting all the linens cleaned and dried and into plastic storage bags, scrubbing down a summer of dirt and fun so the critters will have less motivation to move in while we're gone for the winter, I time traveled back to every summer when we would go into mourning as we closed up and returned to the city the day after Labor Day.

School in New York started the Wednesday after Labor Day (and probably still does) so after months of running free, not having a schedule, swimming, skiing, playing games, hanging out, it was back to the 'real world' for us. No wonder we weren't eager to leave.
We had planned on being in New York for our first fall since our college years and have had so many of our snowbird friends tell us that fall is their favorite season there. That you can have warm weather, sun and swimming anywhere if you go south enough, but fall, ahhhhhhhh. It's special.

Mourning the last of the sweet corn
But in our normal subject to change lifestyle, we're in Sacramento today to see our kids and grandkids for a few days before we hop on a plane to go explore the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific for a few weeks and write some stories, do some sailing as part of a regatta, dance some Zumba with the Tongans.

We'll have plenty of photos and stories to tell when we return, along with a plan, for sure, to spend next fall on the shores of Seneca Lake.