Oswegatchie River (August, 2008)Sometimes, we need to get away for a bit. That’s just what I did. Today’s excursion was extra special because both my daughter and daughter-in-law came along. Henry’s mama is in that bellied-out, about-to-burst state. She is feeling it: two weeks and counting! Ollie’s mama is four months into mommy-hood, immersed in all of the joy and challenges that brings. It was less than a month ago that her wee boy was in the hospital with RSV. A spa day would do them both good. Me, too. This GiGi loves a spa!

I remember the very first time I went to the spa, with K. I was nervous, feeling out of my element, so thankful for someone to show me the ropes. Who better than a well traveled, highly cultured, trusted colleague and friend?

It was a cold and blustery March day. “Spring break” doesn’t feel much like spring or break unless you vacate the North Country for much warmer climes. But the next best thing — trust me in this — is a posh Adk resort. We stayed over to make the most of our illusion of getting away. In truth, we’d hardly relocated. Yet it was enough.

Entering the spa an hour or so in advance of our appointments, we received keys to storage in the women’s locker room. Darkly paneled wood cabinetry, plush fabrics and privacy curtains, richly tiled showers in earthy tones, an upscale product line of personal supplies and associated gadgets accounted for every need. I hadn’t done a thing but step through the door and already, I was beginning to relax.

Well, this is the life! How had I managed to miss it?

K. had advised me, somewhat, what to expect. My sense of wonder at my surroundings was briefly interrupted by a naked, gray-haired, wrinkled raisin of a woman leaving the whirlpool. I ducked into the steam room to avert the awkward moment. An infusion of steam replaced the cool air I brought in with me. Balsam? Eucalyptus? I am not sure but it was delightful. I placed a towel on the bench and stretched out, another towel rolled behind my neck. Heavenly. Deep breaths, in, out.

I might have stayed there all day, if not for my appointment. But I couldn’t leave without trying the whirlpool. I was safely swimsuit clad this first visit but thankfully, I had the bubbling bath to myself. A fire blazed on the ledge above, offering a peek through to the sanctuary. Another aaaahh. More deep breaths. For a few moments, there was not a worry in the world. Yet somehow, what seemed a luxurious amount of pre-appointment time had evaporated like so much balsam-scented steam. I took a quick shower, found a fresh robe, and made my way to the sanctuary to meet my therapist.

I’ve been to a few spas since then, coast to coast, across the border, in the mountains, the desert, on the high seas. I’ve enjoyed them all! Hot stones and fancy schmancy wraps or rubs have their place, for sure. Most spas develop signature offerings with a regional flair. But my favorite treatment is an age-defying facial with neck and shoulder, hand, feet, and scalp massage worked in. It is a luxury I readily admit I do not deserve.

As I discovered on my very first visit, the spa can be a bonding experience in the company of another. Even so, I have taken to heart K’s admonition that silence is a gift at the spa. I appreciate the quiet time myself and try not to intrude on others’ solitude. A well-trained therapist understands the gift of silence, too.

My favorite spa is still the first I visited, located in the sweetest Adirondack town. I don’t go all that often so it’s always a treat. Afterward, we enjoy a late lunch, a glass of wine, a leisurely stroll, some window shopping, perhaps a few purchases, before we begin our trek home through the mountains. Yesterday the misty rain seemed to induce a lingering state of bliss. What a lovely way to spend a day.

20130610-070625.jpgNot everyone is interested in a spa experience. Nor do we all have the flexibility in our budgets. (I remember that long season in our family life, too.) Still, we all need to take time and create space to breathe, deeply. We need time to unplug, to disconnect from the pressure and distraction of too much information at our fingertips. A quiet paddle on the river, walk in the woods, or wander in the garden will do just as nicely. ‘Tis the season for clean scents and deep breaths, eh?

In the Garden

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Words and music by C. Austin Miles, 1913

~ René Morley

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