Late fall is one of my favourite times of year. Especially after we turn the clocks back. I love the fact that it gets dark earlier. There’s something so cosy about late afternoon this time of year. Hubby sets the fire and, from the darkening sunroom where I’ve been reading, I can hear the crackle of cedar kindling and smell the odd whiff of wood smoke that escapes as Hubby closes the door of the stove. I don’t stir until the sunroom is quite dark and Hubby snaps on the kitchen light as he begins chopping something for dinner. We’re in no hurry. We’re on retirement time.
Hubby and I always eat dinner late, and this time of year we often head out for an afternoon walk just as the sun starts to set. Our eyes adjust as the trail where we walk gets darker and darker. I especially love the days when we make something for dinner that needs to be slow-cooked in the oven. Coming home in the dark, all flushed from the cold, to the smell of dinner in the oven, then slipping into a hot bath, while Hubby sets the fire… what could be better? This scene only needs the addition of a bottle of dry red breathing on the counter and an episode of Poirot cued up on the PVR. Am I right? Or am I right? No marking for me tonight. Or any night. Ha.
Living on retirement time means that sometimes I stay awake long after midnight to finish my book. But that’s okay because, now that I’m retired, sleeping late is allowed. Or if I wake up very early, like on the morning below, when at 6:15 even the geese on the river were subdued as they awaited the dawn. Well, on those mornings, I can snap a picture, and scuttle back to bed. Bliss. When one is living on retirement time, going back to bed is always an option.
There is, however, one flaw in running on retirement time. It seems that I am now utterly incapable of leaving the house on time. Just when I thought I had conquered my innate inability to be punctual, I retired. I seem no longer able to predict either how long I will need to get ready or how long it will take to get somewhere. And now I am always late.
I dawdle and dither when I’m getting ready. I sometimes listen to my audiobook when I’m putting on my makeup and forget to keep up a decent pace. Or I stop with half-wet hair, hairbrush in one hand and blow-dryer in the other, to consult with Hubby about dinner. That’s his fault. He always interrupts me. But then he’s running on retirement time too.
Take yesterday for example. See that lady on the right in the photo below. The one in the glasses, blue sweater, and paisley scarf? That’s my longtime friend Eunice. I wrote about Eunice in a post two years ago. She was my very first mentor when I started teaching. In fact she’s seated at the table with many of the “girls” with whom I worked back in the eighties when I was a newbie teacher. These women are like family to me. Like sisters and aunts and even mothers. The lady in stripes at the head of the table is actually the same age as my mum. But I digress. Back to my story.
Yesterday Eunice and I were going out for lunch. But first I was heading to her house to see the photos of her recent two week trip to Morocco. Which, by the way, were fantastic. Anyhow, after changing two or three times, I finally hit on an outfit I liked. The changeover to boots this time of year usually means several outfit swaps and modifications. I’m not talking about wearing boots because I choose to wear boots because they go with an outfit. I mean wearing boots because they are necessary because, as of a few days ago, there’s snow on the ground. So outfits where I’d normally wear sneakers or loafers are a no go, and have to be rethought.
Luckily, on Friday, I’d factored outfit changes into my time allotment. I was almost ready and I was bang on time.
Then I decided to add a scarf. But which one? And where had I packed away my winter gloves? And then I needed a necklace of some sort on my black sweater. My new-ish silver chain would be perfect. But when it plopped out of its storage bag it was in knots. Now I needed my glasses. I couldn’t see the knots to untangle them, nor manage the tiny clasp, without my glasses. But where the heck were my glasses? I finally unearthed them in my purse where I had stuck them earlier for fear I’d forget them at home and might not be able to read the menu at the restaurant. Height of irony right there, folks.
By this time I was only a few minutes late. But as I sped up our short street, I met Hubby coming back from his first ski of the year. So I had to stop to confer about the state of the snow. And the state of his new skis. And of course dinner. We do an inordinate amount of consulting about dinner in our house. Sometimes this begins at breakfast. I’m serious. We spend more time talking about eating then we do actually eating. Ha.
And then I was away. “Leaving now. ETA 25 minutes,” I texted Eunice before I put the car in gear.
I was almost fifteen minutes late by the time I arrived. I know. That’s horrible. This is when running on retirement time is problematic, my friends.
But I have a possible solution. When we put the clocks back an hour in November, maybe those of us who are running on retirement time should put them back a half hour. That way we’ll always be a half hour ahead of everyone else. And we can maybe then be fifteen minutes early for things. Instead of fifteen minutes late.
Being a half hour out of sync with everyone else should be easy. We can pretend we live in Newfoundland. Ha.
For the uninitiated, Newfoundland is Canada’s newest and most easterly province. Newfoundland did not join Confederation until 1949. And it’s situated off the east coast of Canada, so far east that it needs its own time zone. When it’s 4 pm in Ontario which runs on eastern time, and 5pm in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island which run on Atlantic time, it’s 5:30 in Newfoundland. Which runs on its own time. And in its own time. Newfoundland marches to the beat of a whole other drummer than the rest of Canada. Which is why we love it so much. It’s like Newfoundland has been on their own version of retirement time since forever.
I’m going to digress here for a bit to extol the virtues of Newfoundland. I have family in Newfoundland. A Sullivan uncle, aunt, and lots of cousins. And now, of course, the children and grandchildren of cousins. Hubby and I spent two lovely weeks in Newfoundland a few years ago.
We stayed several days in St. John’s with my Uncle Allie (my mum’s younger brother) and Aunt Dee Dee while Uncle Allie toured us around. At great speed. He’s exactly like my grandfather Sullivan is Uncle Allie. We saw all the sights, and even though Uncle Allie had just had eye surgery and was wearing a patch, he insisted on driving. I think Hubby was white-knuckling the dash of the truck most of the time as he watched the road nervously and chuckled at Uncle Allie’s stories. And there were lots of stories.
Newfoundland is a unique place. We followed caribou down the main highway after we disembarked from the ferry the evening we arrived. That was a bit surreal. We saw puffins at Bonavista. We ate fish and chips, and jiggs dinner, and moose burgers. And cod au gratin, a great favourite apparently, and pronounced cod-a-grattin by everyone except poncy people from Ontario. Ha. We attended the annual Fair in Elliston, the self-proclaimed root cellar capital of the world. And we saw stunning scenery. Although no icebergs, to my disappointment. And besides my family, who I must admit are pretty amazing, we met tons of the friendliest people we’ve ever met anywhere. Except Ireland.
And we hiked the Gros Morne Mountain Trail in Gros Morne National Park, up to what they call an “arctic-alpine plateau.” My first big hike ever: 17 km, 7-8 hours of hiking, lots of elevation, lots of sliding scree to stumble over and big rocks to scramble over. And a phenomenal view. We saw more caribou. And arctic ptarmigans.
And my new-ish hiking boots were killing me before we reached the top.
Bandaids, moleskin, folded kleenex under bandaids… nothing would help the burgeoning blisters. We tried stuffing moss down my socks to cushion my poor bony feet. And finally as a last resort, Hubby elected to wear the dastardly boots and give me his sneakers. His feet are almost the same size as mine. And with some moss wadded into the toes and a hard yank on the laces I was able to make his sneakers fit reasonably well. When I praise Hubby for making the sacrifice to wear the offending boots, he still says that it was better than carrying me. Ha.
Note the footwear in the photo below. Those hiking boots had been my Christmas gift from Hubby the year before and I was convinced that I had broken them in. Mistakenly, as I learned.
Anyway. I’d be quite happy to run on Newfoundland time any day. Hubby still laughs at the fact that I had to interpret for him the first few days we were in Newfoundland. Even my cousins speak with a strong Newfoundland accent. They have a dialect all their own in Newfoundland. Sounds almost Irish, but isn’t. And man, do they love to tell stories. No conversation is linear, no question answered without numerous misdirections. I felt right at home. Ha.
During my teaching career I was frequently grateful that I taught English and Creative Writing… and not Math or Science. English and Creative Writing allow for so many more non-sequiturs than a more lock-step curriculum. Teaching Macbeth allowed me to digress into a story about our trip to Scotland and visiting Cawdor Castle, for instance.
Digression being my favourite activity in teaching. As in life. Especially now that I’m retired and running on retirement time.
So how about you my friends? Do you run on retirement time? Are you a dawdler? Do things like choosing outfits and chatty husbands ever conspire to make you late?