I love vacationing in cities where I used to live. It’s a special kind of homecoming, a potent reminder that home is like an ocean, far too wide and deep to be defined by a single shore.
Hello, Seattle. It has been too long.
Martha and Rich, two exceedingly generous friends of ours, invited us to stay at their house on Lake Wenatchee while they are away. Eli and I will be out here in the woods for a couple of weeks, and then round out our trip with four days in the city.
Our plane touched down, and we wasted no time in gathering provisions. Seattle welcomed us back as only she can, with a bag of Red Vines, a pound of cherries, and two of our favorite Beecher’s cheeses, Flagship and Honey Blank Slate. We filled a cooler with Copper River salmon, lamb, chicken breasts, and steaks for the grill, and sped east, into the Cascades.
This time away is a working vacation, for me. But out here, working hard feels like hardly working. I open my eyes each morning to the emerald stillness of the lake, and the blue, Pacific sky. We get up early. After a light breakfast, we hike halfway up a small mountain called Dirtyface. The higher we climb, the more stunning the view. We pause at the waterfall to take it all in.
Back at the house, I get down to business, studying for my remaining two exams. In design, as in life, Martha and Rich have their priorities straight. I love their understated style: the natural light, the exposed wooden beams and chattered wood floors, the smoky slate and muted earth tones. An open space like this opens me up. Studying feels luxurious and easy.
Eli spends his days climbing in the nearby Icicle Creek Canyon. In the six or seven o’clock hour, he returns home and fires up the grill for dinner. Eli is in charge of the protein and grilled vegetables, and I handle the bread, the salad, and dessert. Which brings us to the kitchen. And in particular, to a certain Viking range and oven that stopped me in my tracks when I first walked through the door. I never knew it was possible to have a crush – an actual weak-kneed, sweaty-palmed, woozy crush – on a kitchen appliance. It cooks with a gentle power, with the grace, precision, and economy of a gifted poet. It is also very handsome. Deep red. Martha, Rich, if you had lent us only your kitchen, I gladly would have camped out on the floor each night beside the Sub-Zero refrigerator. It still would have been a dream vacation.
After dinner, we enjoy a fire or a soak in the outdoor hot tub, and fall into bed a little earlier than we would at home.
Then, we wake up the next day, and do it all over again.
Thank you, Martha and Rich, for this tremendous gift.
The summer solstice is now behind us. Sweet Amandine enters her third season. I thank you, very dear reader, for traveling with me this far. Wherever you may be, I hope that your summer is off to a wonderful and restorative start.