Over the years I have traveled in the "off-season," sometimes the very off-season, like central Europe in November or dreary February. I will flat go to the beach in winter, not caring if the temperature drops and it spits a cold and awful rain. I will ignore the gray days, as long as I can read and find somewhere good to eat.

Once I drove to Boston from Bowling Green in early March. It was spring break and I was young so a 20-hour drive sounded like fun. We went to the beach then, too, and I saw Plymouth Rock -- disappointing -- it is just a rock, and we visited Cape Cod, where it snowed.

I can't tell you how long it took me to work this out, being a southern girl. Beaches are hot, or at the very least warm. Snow on a beach is just unnatural, and it confused and upset me for quite some time.

The more I travel, the more difficult it gets to navigate security and crowds, and locate the best flights, or snag the hotels that best suit my needs, so the more I have come to enjoy the off-season. Fewer tourists and less jostling to see the famous sites. Prices are better.

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And I don't mind moody weather. I am easily overstimulated, so too much of a good thing -- sunshine, castle ruins, Baroque art -- and I need a break with a book and some trash TV.

Therefore, off-season travel tends to break up my days in a natural way, forcing me to slow down and discriminate between activities, based on what it's doing outside. I don't mind it, ever, since I feel guilty taking such breaks when the weather is fine, or the trains are running on schedule, or I think I should attend a once in a lifetime event. But send up a tropical storm, or blow up a gale --close the outdoor venue, or force me inside with a book and the local potable, and I am happy for the rest of the day.

But now, here we are, the middle of the summer, as much before us as behind us, and I ain't going anywhere. And I am kind of sad about that. You won't catch me at the beach at the high tide of summer or rarely. I had some home projects to sort out this summer so I decided not to travel until fall. What to do then, but buy Gerber daisies and little crepe myrtles and have other, bigger plants taken out so I can spend my days with graph paper and rulers as I create elaborate garden plots and rearrange the furniture on paper.

But then, a quick swipe through my Facebook page and everyone I know is out there in the world, doing something fun. Road trips across the USA, visits to Prague, family vacations --condominiums filled up with four generations -- at the beach, even if it is scorching. Someone is in Spain. Someone else is in Maine. Ireland. Scotland.

And what am I doing these days?


That's about it. Because now, with the summer heat, finally here and full on, if I don't water first thing in the morning and sometime mid-afternoon, my Gerbers droop and accuse me, my little crepe myrtle snubs me, with the leaves curled up in accusatory fashion -- YOU did this; YOU are the source of my stress; YOU act like you want me dead.

So, now, when I am most feeling sorry for myself and think I might take a long weekend here and there, I can't leave. Can't leave for a moment. I've done it to myself, of course. Filled my porch with the most finicky of flowers, have purchased landscape plants whose root balls are drying out even as I write this, have calla lilies and hibiscus eaten alive by Japanese beetles, and I scour the leaves daily on a killing mission.

Except that I don't kill them, because I don't want to, so I just thump them a little, hoping they will try the menu next door and leave my plants alone. I am the victim of my own poor planning.

There is nothing to do but start thinking about next year. Already I am rethinking the yard for next summer. Perennials, I think. Already I am researching the beach for next June, a road trip in July. Spain, London. Anywhere, really, but here, for just a week or two.

Greta McDonough is professor of human services at Owensboro Community & Technical College and author of the book, "Her Troublesome Boys: The Lucy Furman Story." Her column runs each Wednesday in Community. She can be reached via email at greta.mcdonough@kctcs.edu.

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