Tag Archives: relaxation

Soaking in a Sunday afternoon’s sunshine

eastersunrisebybrucestambaugh

The day dawned bright and hopeful.

By Bruce Stambaugh

The day was an answer to prayer.

After the long, miserable, snowy winter, and the damp, cloudy and windy days of early spring, soaking in the warmth and calm of a sunny afternoon was just what was needed. And that’s just what I did.

After a light Sunday lunch, I poured a glass of mint tea and headed to the back porch. I wasn’t alone.

Because of the unfriendly weather, we had delayed rescuing all of the porch furniture from storage. I simply sat on the steps that face our little garden pond, and absorbed the soothing sun and so much more.

Since it was a Sunday, the usual hustle and bustle of work traffic on our busy county road was nil. Sounds of horse clops and

horseandbuggybybrucestambaugh

A horse and buggy wheel it up the road.

rolling wooden buggy wheels coursing along the unyielding macadam predominated, occasionally interspersed with vehicles motoring north and south.

That was the background noise. Around me the action took a more natural flow. Newly arrived Chipping Sparrows flitted from tree to greening grass, searching for seeds and nesting material, their sharp, delicate chipping joining the chorus of other birdcalls.

Downy Woodpeckers announced their arrival with an assured flutter of wings and their usual, perky chirp. Their herky-jerky head gyrations showed their cautiousness. Hunger quickly overcame their suspicions of me, and they clung wearily to the peanut butter suet feeder.

The much more brash male Red-bellied Woodpecker loudly barked out its presence as a warning to any other species that might have thoughts of feasting there. He clearly trumpeted that it was his turn, and he took it with me as an audience.

I didn’t realize I was doing such a good job of behaving myself until a female American Robin jumped out from beneath our porch deck. She bounced within inches of my feet and into the shade beneath the feeder that hangs in front of the kitchen window.

I sat as still as possible while she poked and pecked at the seed residue dropped by the perching birds onto the soft soil below. Then she hit the lottery. She snagged an earthworm, which she downed posthaste.

With that the robin bounded away, and then harshly scolded me as she winged it to a far limb on the old sugar maple 20 feet off. When she finished her lecture, she promptly flew away.

It was at that point that I noticed the dozen or so goldfish in the pond basking in the sun at water’s surface. All faced me, their mouths opening and closing as if to say, “Feed me. Feed me.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I went to the little garden shed, grabbed a handful of fish food and plopped it into the water. The school scurried and splashed to get to the nutritious floating pebbles, then sank to the bottom to finish the meal.

The sun also brought out the resident green frog nestled into a cozy spot among the sprouting pond reeds. It picked off several insects while I sipped my tea. Bathed in abundant sunshine, the neighbor’s road horses grazed lazily on the new sprouts in the hillside pasture.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The first butterfly of the spring fluttered by and landed in the sun at the back of the porch. The Mourning Cloak was well-worn from its long flight north.

A male Cardinal called sweetly from a perch in front of the house. I eased around the corner and soon spotted it. He sat at the summit of one of the crimson maple trees in the front yard, singing his entire repertoire. Behind the house, the sun coaxed a small herd of deer into the alfalfa field.

The glorious sunshine had warmed my skin. The immerging springtime sights and sounds heartened me to the core.

eastersunsetbybrucestambaugh

The day ended as glorious as it had begun.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014

8 Comments

Filed under Amish, birding, column, Ohio, photography, weather, writing

A much needed respite at Lakeside, Ohio

Perry Park by Bruce Stambaugh

Perry Park, located at the east gate of Lakeside, Ohio, is a beautiful place to rest, relax, read a book, jog, play tennis or just enjoy the peace and quiet.

By Bruce Stambaugh

After the week we had had, my wife and I needed a respite. The most logical place for that was Lakeside, Ohio, our favorite place to relax.

We had begun our annual weeklong stint at the Chautauqua on Lake Erie. Early the second morning we received a call to return home. Neva’s mother was gravely ill.

The call wasn’t unexpected. We quickly packed up and returned home. Neva joined her sister in watching over their elderly mother, Esther Miller. Esther died the next evening at age 90.
Hollyhocks by Bruce Stambaugh
Expected or not, a death is still a death. All of the grieving emotions overwhelm family members in different ways and at different times. Time seems to stand still. All the while, the necessary preparations need to be completed. They tend to take their toll on already frayed feelings.

My wife and her sister met with the funeral home director about the services. They met with the pastor to plan the funeral. Next day, they cleaned out their mother’s room at the retirement home.

The family arrived at the church well ahead of the visitation time to set up pictures and meaningful memorabilia, followed by the greeting of mourners and the funeral itself. Afterwards, we hosted the immediate family for an evening meal at our home.

As you can imagine, it was all very draining mentally and physically. We needed a break.

Neva and I held a one-sentence discussion. There could be no doubt that the best place to renew and recharge was to return to our beloved Lakeside. The next morning we were on our way.

Lakeside homes by Bruce Stambaugh

Despite the sweltering heat, it was good to be back at Lakeside with its lovely cottages, inviting dock, marvelous entertainment and multiple activity options.

With its shaded parks and marvelous vistas, Lakeside’s location on Lake Erie makes it idyllic. Really, though, Lakeside is more about people than anything else. From staff to strangers to long-time acquaintances, everyone is family at Lakeside.

A television reporter once did an expose on this special town. He wasn’t unfamiliar with the resort. He had vacationed there as a youngster.

The reporter knew how friendly Lakesiders could be. To prove his point, the reporter casually walked into a cottage without knocking and asked for lemonade. He wasn’t quizzed as to who he was or why he had barged in. Nor was he told to get out. No. Without a second thought, the homemaker poured him his icy drink.

Lakeside cottage by Bruce Stambaugh

On our recent extended weekend retreat, my wife and I had a similar experience. After finishing a very informative walking tour of Lakeside, one of the other participants invited us and another couple to tour her newly remodeled cottage. She didn’t even know us, and yet showed us every corner of her beautiful place. That’s just the way people are at Lakeside.

Lakeside flowers by Bruce StambaughAt the end of our visit of this lovely summer home, I realized that the kind lady didn’t even know our names. We made our introductions as we profusely thanked her.

What nicer place than Lakeside is there to sit back and forget your worries? You can read a book, play dominoes, go for a lovely morning walk, or just enjoy the view while eating a refreshing ice cream cone. If you’re at the right place at the right time, you just might get an unexpected tour, too.

That’s just how Lakeside and its gracious summer citizenry are. They invigorate you just when you need it the most.

The column appeared in the Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

2 Comments

Filed under column, family, Lakeside, Ohio, photography, writing

Revitalization weekend at the cottage

By Bruce Stambaugh

It had been an unusually stressful week for me. You would think that in semi-retirement, stress wouldn’t even be in my vocabulary. But it is.

Without going into the sordid details, here is a sampling of the week’s chain of events that had sent me over the top by Friday’s end. My six-year old grandson got whacked in the face with a metal baseball bat. The next evening, his daddy severely injured his right knee rounding first base in a softball game.

Maren by Bruce Stambaugh

Our 10-month old granddaughter, Maren.

The following day our daughter reported that our 10-month old granddaughter’s first tooth finally had broken through. In and of itself, that was a good thing. However, Miss Maren was still pretty cranky, with other teeth ready to make their appearance.

Other nerve-racking events oozed into our normally quiet lives in Ohio’s Amish country, too. For confidential reasons, I won’t reveal the nasty details, other than to say one of the logjams required a plunger.

Clearly you can see that the weekend getaway to our cottage was just what the plumber needed. It was the necessary salve to my pent up emotional sores.

First of all, my wife and I feel fortunate to have the cottage my parents built in 1975. We purchased it from them a couple of years ago and finished it the way my mother had always envisioned it would be.

The cottage’s location alone has several advantages. Its rural hillside setting on the natural shoreline lake is the most obvious. Having good neighbors who own other nearby cabins is another.

The cottage by Bruce Stambaugh

Our cottage retreat in southeast Ohio.

But the cottage makes for an ideal sanctuary for other reasons. We have no landline. Cell phone reception is marginal at best. There is no television, no email, no Internet. Other than electricity, the cottage is the epitome of electronic reclusiveness.

Right after we arrived Saturday morning, we went to work cleaning up inside and out. Though the cottage was locked up tight and unused for a couple of weeks, insects not surprisingly managed to make themselves at home. My wife soon took care of that.

Meanwhile, I donned gloves and pruners and attacked the weeds with a mission. That’s no easy task on a steep slope that falls away quickly to the graveled lane below. But just being out in the fresh air was invigorating, and the exercise personally beneficial.

The real blessings came at the marvelous supper my wife prepared. We ate the tasty meal on the open-air deck.

For dessert, we simply sat on the porch and watched and listened. Cicadas intermittently sang their monotonous song. Colorful butterflies enjoyed the sweet fragrance of various wildflower blossoms.

Butterfly by Bruce Stambaugh

A tiger swallowtail butterfly enjoyed a variety of wildflowers.

A Carolina wren serenaded us with its luscious calls. Chickadees and tufted titmice played and fed in the surrounding mixed hardwoods. Cardinals sounded their evening songs. A great blue heron grunted from water’s edge, hidden by the forest curtain.

A gentle breeze rustled the nervous leaves of a quaking aspen. Human induced sounds intruded, too. We have accepted the fact that lawnmowers, weed eaters, shouting children, dogs barking in the distance are all part of the cottage life at times.

Altogether this harmonic mishmash of sights and sounds must have worked its magic. I slept 11 hours that night.

With those revitalizing results, we should embrace the cottage’s graciousness more often.

4 Comments

Filed under column