Saturday, March 07, 2009
Hedgebrook: The Residency
I realized that while away on my writer’s retreat I could still post entries to my blog because the Internet is everywhere. Even here in this idyllic retreat for women writers called Hedgebrook on Whidbey Island.
We don’t have internet access in our cottages but we can walk a brief distance through the woods (a spooky walk at night by the feeble light of my eco-friendly flashlight) to a little shed called the Pumphouse which connects us to the outside world via phone and an internet connection. (Cell phones don’t work too well here. At least mine doesn’t.)
We’re encouraged to stay off the grid as much as possible, since we’re here to write. And I have been writing for the past four days. Working on a commissioned piece for an art jewelry journal. Beginning an essay on plant identification. Polishing up one I wrote long ago on the names of plants. Considering new possibilities for my Victorian ghost novel.
It’s an amazing gift for a writer. To have nothing on my schedule but writing. That and sleeping and eating and reading and making tea and keeping a fire burning in the wood stove.
I want to live in this cottage for the rest of my life. Finally, a desk big enough so I can spread out all my projects. A tiny kitchen, perfect for one person. A cozy armchair with a footstool and a lamp. A windowseat that looks out on the woods. A wood stove to stoke; it keeps the kettle hot enough so I can make a cup of tea anytime I want. The bed is up a ladder in the loft. The windows have leaded glass panes so prisms dance around the room when the sun is out.
There are seven writers here at the moment and all of them are fabulously talented, so talented I sometimes wonder what I’m doing here. At night we meet at the farmhouse where we are served a fabulous dinner. We talk about writing over this gorgeous food and that is a luxury too.
When we leave to go back to our cottages, we are carrying our flashlights and our baskets laden with the lunches that were made for us (mac and cheese tomorrow) and the fixings for breakfast (I’ve been grooving on oatmeal).
Tonight I walked up the road under the stars. The first quarter moon was so bright I didn’t need my flashlight. The frogs were chirping in the pond besides my cottage as I crossed over the bridge and saw the welcoming lights of my cottage.
I’m already counting the days until I go home (ten), not because I’m eager to leave but because each one is precious.