Down Time

Gayle_signing photoThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Rain pattered on the metal roof. A parched landscape drank the wetness, grasses and ground dry from several months without moisture. Thunder roared and lightning crashed, more intensely at 8,000 feet elevation than at 5,200. From the cabin’s livingroom, I watched the display and listened to the cascading water, exciting, frightening, and relaxing simultaneously. Labor Day weekend at our mountain property was cool and soggy, the weather change needed and appreciated, soothing my mind as well as the forest nearby.

cabin_Labor Day weekend

August was personally intense, with articles due to three different entities plus additional work at my “day job” due to the absence of staff members for family emergencies. September will be stressful as well, with additional stories for two other publications plus the winding down of my Vietnam veterans’ project. The final weekend of August and the first weekend of September provided me with necessary down time, space between projects and deadlines. I took advantage of this lull, traveling to Montana in late August to visit family and friends, and then driving to the mountain property for quiet time at the cabin, reading, reflecting, and writing more of my works in progress.

Office_Reading areaI also spent part of Labor Day weekend sprucing up my home office. I have a tendency to be a pack rat, and my filing system consists of boxes filled to the brim. I “get around” to organizing a few times a year, and when I was gifted with a futon from friends who were tired of the item, I looked upon that as an opportunity – create a special reading nook in my home office and get to organizing again for the year. My home office is a sunroom, boasting banks of old windows (the house was built in 1924) that, though aged, bring in wonderful natural light. But, to create this reading sanctuary, complete with new lamp, nature-themed pillows, and wall hangings from national parks, I had to clean and re-organize the office … which also meant clearing out those boxes and actually filing paperwork in my two file cabinets. That all takes time; in fact, I’m still working on the latter, but the area is coming together. I look forward to spending a lot of time there this winter as I have a cute woodstove-looking electric fireplace, helping to make the room even cozier during periods of snow and cold. And with the nature-oriented items around me, including fleece blankets and a crotchet quilt I made more than 25 years ago, I know the room will be warm and comfy this winter.

IMG_7405More “down time” comes soon. Although I have several articles due by month-end, I was able to interview some of my sources on the Friday before Labor Day and then others on the Wednesday after. So, I’ve been able to work on those stories already. Other interviews will come in a few days. This weekend I’ll take a bit more time to de-stress as my husband, parents, I travel to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. My dad’s favorite wild animal is the elk, and in September the bulls (males) bugle and gather harems of cows (females) together. Yellowstone National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park are two of the most spectacular places to enjoy this autumn ritual. Dad turned 80 in July, so this trip to see his favorite wildlife species is part of his birthday and Christmas gifts. We’ll stay two nights in Colorado and take a good part of two days to travel in and around this majestic national park, listening to and observing the elk as well as enjoying the magnificent mountain scenery and any other critters that cross our path. Time with family, time in nature, time to unwind – all necessary and enjoyed!

bull elk_meadow

Then it’s back to the article writing life once we return – after all, editors need to be kept happy so they will keep me employed! (Especially necessary as I look to become a fulltime freelance writer in the coming year.)

How about you? What do you enjoy doing during your “down time?” And, are you due for some of that down time soon?

Enjoy your week, my friends!


Gayle and Mary_river walkGayle M. Irwin is a Wyoming-based writer, author and speaker. She freelances for magazines and newspapers, is a contributing writer to six editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, and is part of the Sundown Press summer release Pawprints on My Heart. She’s authored seven inspirational dog books for children and adults. She is working on two more books, a humorous cat story for children titled BobCat Goes to School, and a reflective devotional piece called Seasons of Life, Seasons of Nature. Gayle enjoys helping pet rescue organizations and spending time in nature, especially at her mountain cabin as well as visiting America’s national parks. Learn more at

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12 thoughts on “Down Time

  1. Those first couple of paragraphs were captivating. I was right there with you watching the rain storm. Glad you are getting some balance. We alwsys have a ton of reciepts for the truck. Del and I scanned them into hos laptop. That got rid of a bunch of papers.


  2. Sounds like fun Gayle, and some spectacular and awesome scenery to help the mood. Glad you are getting all that in with your folks and hubby. And know you’ll get all your projects done too. Life is full! I too enjoyed your description of the rain storm.


    1. Thanks, Neva — I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and comment. I am looking forward to the trip to Rocky Park; it’s such a beautiful place! Hope you and your sister are doing well. When you get back, perhaps you, Elizabeth, and I can arrange a get-together.


    1. Thanks, Abbie — yep, busy, busy, busy, like a bee in a flower garden! LOL I’m enjoying my time at the cabin and looking forward to some special time with my parents this weekend! I appreciate your comments.


  3. Enjoy Rocky Mtn National. It is a splendid time to visit. As for down time, even though people think I’m very busy, most of what I do, I love. Therefore it ins’t work. (Go figure)

    I wish you the best and hope you get to the freelance part faster than you expect. Doris


  4. I’m so glad you took the time to relax and regroup. I think down time is so important and too often we skip it which can lead to stress and anxiety. I love to read and travel during my down time and I make sure to set aside at least an hour every night to read. Hope you enjoy your time with your parents this weekend. Great post, Gayle!


  5. Gayle – Someday I might get to Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone since you make them so appealing. Best wishes for a great autumn/ winter season in your cosy neuk, it looks just perfect.


  6. Sounds like you’re busy, but organized. The time at the cabin must have been fantastic, giving you a break before you jump into your projects again. We are winding up summer at the lake and in four weeks or so will be home again. While I welcome the idea of having my internet hooked up so I can research and write, I’ll miss the beautiful sunsets over the lake, and the quiet that it brings to me. I’ve had a really bad case of bronchitis and am just recovering, but I intend to enjoy every minute I have left! Your reading nook sounds great – wish I had room in my office to do that.


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