By James M. Jackson
Rain on the metal roof and the ticking of the antique Seth Thomas clock are the only sounds at our house other than the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard. I am alone. Jan is off visiting family for the weekend, and our string of guests has ended. Of the last fifty days, we have had company visiting for 30 of them.
"Bob" nearly suffers a hernia moving a bit of gravel
That’s not a complaint. My son, my daughter, and her husband accounted for most of those visitor-days. We are delighted whenever they choose to spend time with us. In addition to family, we invited friends, timing their stay to fall between my daughter’s and son’s visits.
All our visitors are easy guests. They help with cooking and cleaning chores. Everyone is respectful of our approach to keeping personal noise at a minimum in order to enjoy the natural sounds of the northwoods. Our friends, a couple, were first-time visitors. Neither had ridden ATVs, so I helped them safely check that off their bucket lists. The wife wanted to drive my bobcat skidsteer (named “Bob”) because each of her brothers had skidsteer experience. I videoed her as she practiced moving buckets-full of gravel from one pile to another. She loved it (new experience) and feared it (did not feel under control—even though I had her in a location where nothing could happen).
My daughter loves exploring the woods and lakes. This year one of our adventures lasted a couple hours longer than expected when I missed an overgrown path that would have taken us to our river crossing. By the time I confirmed my error, we were a half-mile away from the crossing. Rather than bushwhack our way back (and possibly miss the overgrown path again), I left my daughter sitting on a rock enjoying the sun’s warmth (she is cold-blooded, despite being human) while I walked down the river to collect our canoe and picked her up.
My son enjoys building things and working with Bob on maintaining the road. This year we installed driveway gates to replace the chain we had been using. He and I constructed a berm that we hope will keep a vernal pond in its banks and off the road come springtime. (Time will tell. We think it will take a couple of years for the dirt to settle into the rock base before we lick the problem.) We worked with a neighbor and his new Kubota tractor (named “The Other Bob”) on two projects: a morning of pulling a gazillion rocks from a section of the road we both have to travel, and before that, expanding my parking area by taking down a hill (and creating fill for the road to replace the extracted rocks).
I enjoyed every minute with our company.
Berm designed to keep vernal pond from flooding the road
Problem is, both Jan and I are introverts. That much company, even though it’s splendid company, wears us down. All that conversation. And for me, not spending as much time as I preferred making progress on two writing projects. Plus, my pleasure reading suffered. Over those fifty days, I read just six books—half of the dozen or more I’d normally read.
To be honest, I feel similarly drained when we go on vacation. Most of our recent trips have been small-group nature tours with great guides and fellow guests. As much as I have loved them (and signed up for more), when they’re done, I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation.
Next year, we hope to have family and friends visit again. I’m sure I will fill with delight at each visitor’s arrival and be happy to see them go when their stay concludes. Is this just a Jim Jackson thing, or do you have similar conflicted feelings about visitors (or visiting)?
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James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree series. Full of mystery and suspense, these thrillers explore financial crimes, family relationships, and what happens when they mix. To learn more information about Jim and his books, check out his website, https://jamesmjackson.com. You can sign up for his newsletter (and get to read a free Seamus McCree short story).