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One week every spring, I leave Vermont for a pilgrimage to the Islands. For me, it is a reward for surviving another dreary almost-spring in late March and early April. Every marriage has its compromises. I am a summer girl. My husband is a hearty New Englander. Over the years, I have embraced the beauty of winter in Vermont, but when April comes my soul aches for warm weather and sunny skies.

This year our family headed down to the small island nation of Tobago off the coast of Venezue-la. Never heard of it? It is the twin sister nation to Trinidad and you usually hear them spoken of in one breath: Trinidad and Tobago. Their currency is TNT (you gotta love that).

Our trip was long. Stepping out of the plane was like stepping into a furnace. We’re veterans, so we know that once we reach the hotel and jump into the ocean (I have been known to jump in before changing into my bathing suit) all will be well.

First we must get our car. We see no sign of Advantage Car Rental. We ask and are met with a lot of friendly shrugs until Milano at Alamo invites us into her tiny, air-conditioned office while she makes phone calls. Soon she is delighted to tell us Duane will be right over, we should wait in front of the terminal. We thank her and begin to gather our belongings.

“It is very hot,” she says, “You wait here.”

“You said he would be five minutes.”

“Yes, yes, but,” she shrugs,”island time.”

Island time. Ah, yes, how could we forget. We are an American family bound by time. We wake with an alarm everyday, strive to arrive at work and school by 8, no matter what the weather. We schedule the orthodontist and basketball practice and chorus all on the same afternoon and still eat dinner at 6 every night.

Two hours later, a smiling Duane arrives with a battered orange car. The window on the driver’s side isn’t working, but he will bring a new car to us at the hotel tomorrow—he brings the car on Thursday.

It takes a few days to adjust. The sun and the waves work their magic and we stop looking at the clock. Time slows and then passes too quickly. A little sunburned and groggy, we pack our bags and head home. Island time slips away by the time we arrive at JFK.

I think about it: taking time, being less bound by the clock, not scheduling too many things in one day, just enjoying what is right in front of me. If an island girl can live in Vermont then is-land time can too…breathe.

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