August 27, 2015, 12:00 AM

I really, really like vacations.  There are just two problems with them – finding time to take them, and then digging through the work that built up while you were gone, once you get back.

I had a lovely time touring in Alsace, Breisach, Freiburg, Stuttgart, and the Black Forest.  My friend-hostess fed me well.  I got to swim in beautiful pools and admire many stunning churches that escaped the iconoclastic sensibilities of Protestant Reformers.  I survived ten days with a fifteen-year-old.  I read all the way through Harry Potter und der Stein des Weises (in German, obviously).  And I slept a lot!

All in all, I have to put this vacation in the win column. Not that I’ve ever really had a bad vacation.  I just wish they lasted longer!

However, coming back was very nice, too, even though we had a funeral last week.  The weather has cooled down, and we are enjoying a foretaste of what I hope will prove to be a lovely fall season.  The cats are happy to see me (although Dudley continues to complain about everything, from the water in the fountain to the food in the bowl, and how long I sit still for him).  Yup, I’m home!

It’s also great to see folks from work and town. 

In short, I recommend vacations and I recommend coming home again.  It is good to have some balance in life, and it is good to have some routines as well. Most of all, it is good to have friends.

Recharging our batteries, giving ourselves time to do the things we love outside of work (even if we love our work!) is good for the body, the spirit, and the soul.

The lack of specific deadlines leaves space for minds to wander, feet to explore, ears to listen, and eyes to see things we might not otherwise allow ourselves to even notice. We can find parallels (I found a church that is rebuilding its steeple, and a whole town that looks like a Shakespearian Tudor stage set), or brand new things we never knew even existed (thousands of little green men in fedora statues marching about in a park).

Laughter, awe, tranquility, exhaustion (from walking on cobblestone streets for six hours straight) – sets our day-to-day life in juxtaposition with the unusual or unexpected, and adds a certain poignancy to our choices and options.

Don’t take your life for granted!  Explore!