I don’t know about you guys, but for me, November hasn’t proven, historically, to be the happiest month of the year.
The days get dark. That ‘look out the window at 4 pm and the day is basically over’ kind of dark.
The sun slips into its winter cocoon, peeking out only when it’s in the mood. (With little to no consideration for the moods of the rest of us.)
Time outside becomes limited to wet walks among bloom-less branches.
And the Western world decides it’s time to flip a switch that screams HOLIDAYS! MUST. CELEBRATE. HOLIDAYS!!!!!!! (That is the last time I will ever use all caps for multiple words and more than one exclamation mark at a time, I promise.)
To combat the somewhat SAD syndrome last year, Joe and I bought a sun lamp, which I think did actually help, and which I might dig out of the cupboard again in the coming weeks.
But this year, with November looming, I opted for a more aggressive approach: Book an escape to a cottage on an island with my best friend.
I am here to say to all of you, when in doubt (or when in November), if you can, escape to a cottage on an island with your best friend.
We had along with us our guys (Joe and Steve), Melissa and Steve’s over-the-top-cute daughter Lily…
and their pup Rufus, who is actually eight now, but still thinks he’s the baby of the family.
(You might remember this clan from their apartment tour, featured here on the blog last July.)
We stayed on Vashon Island, which is a 15-minute ferry ride from Tacoma, Washington (or a 20-minute ferry from Seattle). Since Melissa and Steve live in Vancouver, B.C., and Joe and I are in Portland, Vashon was an ideal in-between spot to meet for three days and nights of relaxing, eating too much cheese, drinking wine, playing games, reading books to Lily, and most of all, talking about life.
While researching options for where to go, I came across this article on Vashon Island in the New York Times:
Only 22 minutes from downtown Seattle and with a land mass the size of Manhattan, the hilly, woodsy island has a population of just 10,000. It’s home to over a dozen small family farms — the kind that in most places were swallowed up by big agribusiness decades ago — selling their kale and beets and free-range eggs through unmanned farm stands that accept payment on the honor system. In the island’s main town, shopkeepers greet their patrons by name, and the only traffic jams are found on the sidewalk where townsfolk stop to chat unhurriedly with their friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers.
I was sold.
Steve and Melissa were our witnesses during our wedding ceremony on the Oregon Coast two years ago, which (as I’ve mentioned on the blog a few times) took place on the deck of a cottage in the midst of a typhoon storm and power outage. So we had to laugh when Bruce, the owner of the cottage on Vashon, told Joe and I upon arrival that the weather report was calling for a possible storm. “If that happens,” he said, “the power will likely go out.”
I’m happy to report that while it rained non-stop until our final morning there, the storm stayed away and the power stayed on.
Our cottage was just up the road from the ferry terminal, so we could look out onto the Puget Sound and see the ferry sailing back and forth all day. There was something really peaceful about watching it coming in, then going back out, over and over while we were tucked inside.
After breakfast on our second day (complete with mimosas)…
we ventured into Vashon’s main town, also called Vashon.
First stop: The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie. This building is over 100 years old, and had a charming old- timey feel…
complete with a three-man band playing old-timey songs.
One of the things Melissa and I have in common is a love for antique/thrift shops. So we both spotted Treasure Island across the street, and popped in immediately after. I found three treasures: a beautiful geode, a throw pillow, and a blue glass bottle.
After lunch at a dive bar called Sporty’s, we headed back to the cottage, where we stayed until check out. It was so cozy, and we had everything we needed for cooking dinner (and snacking on cheese plates) every night.
Joe and I made salad pizza (mozzarella included) one night, and Steve and Melissa cooked a delicious risotto another night.
One of my favourite parts of the weekend was playing Pictionary. I was dying laughing at our drawing skills, particularly mine and Melissa’s, whose sketches looked alarmingly the same as the how we drew when we were kids. (Especially her tiny bird with triangle wings and my cat with weirdly spaced-out legs.) I’ve known this woman for 29 years, and laughing together gives me a deep joy that’s irreplaceable. One of the reasons these kind of trips are essential to my life!
On our last morning, the sun came out, so we had a chance to hang out on the cottage decks a little bit and check out the view.
When we hugged goodbye, Melissa and I decided a cottage trip should be an annual event. It’s so fun having a weekend like this to look forward to, and with the onset of winter, it really lifted my spirits knowing we’d be spending this time together.
What about you guys? Any winter getaways in the works? What do you do to stave off the blues?
I know taking a trip like this isn’t always possible, but I think having something special on the horizon, even just a venture to a different part of the city, or a game night at home with friends, really helps brighten up the darker days. This weekend Joe and I are planning to check out Portland’s Woodstock neighbourhood, which we’ve never been to, and even that feels like a fun mini adventure.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, I highly recommend a Vashon Island visit. It’s so peaceful and relaxing there. I definitely want to head back in the summer and spend more time exploring.
Happy Wednesday, everyone. :)