Every summer for the last 10 years, my wife and her sisters gather and reunite for a month in a place called Sequim, Wash.
The youngest sister, Jayne, lives there on several acres that she and her husband have transformed into a haven of sorts.
There are flower and vegetable gardens, a shop that can fix and build just about anything, a main house, a refurbished Airstream, a rustic cabin and a working outhouse
There’s lots of varieties of plants and trees — one of them called a madroño, which grows at funny angles.
And if you don’t see at least one whale and two bald eagles every day, it’s because you’re not looking.
Herds of elk roam around, aloof, but unafraid of the herds of humans who roam around.
Sequim is pronounced “Skwim,” one syllable only, one of those things that makes you wonder why they don’t spell it properly.
I think the locals enjoy correcting you, the same way the people of Gruene do. Or maybe it’s something the townspeople concocted to tell the outsiders from the natives.
From the Facebook postings, photos and emails I get during that month each year, it seems like it is an idyllic place sitting at the base of the Olympic Mountains and along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
It calls itself “The Lavender Capital Of North America,” and they feast on Dungeness crabs like we do on tacos.
They visit Canada in the same manner someone in Houston might spend a weekend in San Antonio. It’s no big deal.
The most annoying emails I get from her are the ones that give me the weather news in that part of the country — highs are in the low 60s and 70s; 80 degrees is a heat wave.
The sisters are daughters of sharecroppers. Their daddy grew cotton and sorghum — first in Kerens and later in Chapman Ranch. Their momma was the postmistress.
While the sisters are in Sequim, they cook the homegrown food their mother did, traipse the countryside, haunt thrift shops and drink homemade and store-bought wines. They have a splendid time.
Back at home where I am is another story. I have this month worth of freedom and unchallenged choices that I haven’t figured out what to do with, at least not all of it.
My main responsibilities during Freedom Month are to water the plants, be sure the coffee pot, stove and oven are turned off before I leave the house and put the garbage out on pickup day. She thumbtacks the instructions on all the exit doors.
Usually, I spend the first week or so traveling and visiting friends and family in Texas, Louisiana and Alabama.
I don’t think I’m an especially good guest or visitor so I move on quickly — a day here, a few hours there.
Once, during Freedom Month, I awakened at 2 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. I decided that I wanted a waffle. Why not?
I didn’t have to explain my decision to anyone or be accused of being irrational or that I was up to something nefarious.
Off I went to the all-night diner. Inside was a couple sitting side by side in a booth, and one lone man at the counter whose wife I figured was in Gruene or Sequim, Wash.
The waitress looked tired. She brought me coffee without asking and dropped a menu.
“Waffle and sausage,” I said.
She hollered out my order to the fry cook who was less than 3 feet from her. The fry cook and I jumped a little.
Before the coffee cooled enough to drink, she sat down my order. I went with my ritual of cutting things into bite size pieces and carefully poured the syrup — not too much, not too little.
The middle of the waffle wasn’t cooked so I carefully ate around the edges. I wasn’t going to complain to anyone who had to be working at these ungodly hours. They had enough problems without me and my uncooked waffle.
The lone man at the counter looked over and said, “You ought to send that back.” I shook my head no and said, “No, I really didn’t want it anyway.” He nodded back, he understood. I over-tipped the waitress and went home.
Since that night, I’ve been working on more enjoyable and productive ways to spend my alone days, but the truth is that a man ain’t much good without a good woman.