Vacation is a treasured luxury. The sights of the scenery, the tastes of the food, and the step back in time are awe-inspiring.

I pack lightly. Sturdy walking shoes. A wrap for chilly evenings. A simple black dress for dinner that rolls up but doesn’t wrinkle. Ready for the wonder that awaits.

Our first day we had a car. We meandered along rolling hills covered in morning light. Though midsummer, many of the fields were already turning golden. The lush blankets of color reached to the horizon where they met the sky that went from cloudy to perfect blue as we drove.

Around noon we stopped at a town not found on our map and ordered the plat du jour. As we waited for our food, I noticed my mental clock running. It seemed to be taking a long while for the daily special of ham and vegetables to arrive. I reminded myself of where I was and that we had all day. I started to relax.

When we arrived at the inn the owners welcomed us with a sparkling drink made with fresh lime before showing us to our room. Plenty of pillows on the bed. Charming little chandelier like lamps on the nightstands. Towels with blue and green piping stacked neatly. This is our home for now, and I relax a little more.

We had a dinner with our hosts and the grandmother of the family at a long wooden table with benches on either side. Our plates included small summer sweet tomatoes covered in olive oil infused with the freshly picked basil and oregano from their garden. They told of the history of the nearby town. I was sure the perfect red wine was local. I slept well.

After breakfast at a small café, we went for a bike ride in the countryside. A light breeze traveled with us as we came upon fields of yellow and purple flowers, crossed small bridges over rolling streams, and spotted the occasional napping cow.

That afternoon we were invited to join another couple for a boat ride. We slowly moved across the lake that shimmered like a field of tiny diamonds. We paused for a while to watch a small duck family make its way to the shore.

As we stepped off the boat I began to contemplate a nap but had no idea of the time of day. I had not looked at a clock, a watch, or a phone since I’d awoken.

It was insisted that we not leave town without a stop in the shop that sold a chocolate specialty found only in that region. Needing no persuasion, I savored the sweetness on my tongue and the happiness in my heart.

After sunset the temperature cooled to one where you don’t know the number but you know it’s perfect. Story sharing carried on past midnight until the moon had risen through the trees that surrounded the terrace and we surrendered to our time coming to a close.

Returning home, I saw that one need not cross the Atlantic to be restored by simple pleasures. I had crossed the Missouri River to Iowa and celebrated the simple.

Coach Koenig

Are there simple pleasures awaiting you nearby?

Is it time to allow yourself a break?

What can you be present to today?

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