Seated by the window in Green Getaway cabin, the thunder rolls around me like marbles in bag, just loud enough to announce its presence; a portend of what’s coming or going. Lightening flickers, half-heartedly, overhead. Rain chatters on the tin roof. This small cabin has become a nest in the woods, a peaceful place to concentrate on MY ART. The cabin is appropriately named as it sits just off the driveway in the woods. The sweet, spicy smell of Lilies of the Valley and rain-washed dirt drift through the open window while a single Red-Winged Blackbird complaint breaches the wall of quiet which envelopes me.
I am 3 days into a weeklong women’s writing retreat, gifted by generous women in memory of one talented female who thought that her gifts to the world weren’t particularly art. Because of her outstanding and unrecognized talent (largely only by her, others recognized her gifts) which left this world when she did, this weeklong getaway, WIDIA, What I Do is Art, was born. I am not completely sure what lucky happenstance put me in a place where I am able to afford a week to come to this but here I am. Many thanks to Gloria for pushing me to do this, Sue & Marcia for accepting me into the program and Jim, for his constant support of me even when he doesn’t understand. Viva la difference!
Last summer which was spent in Montana demonstrated to me the benefits of living off the grid. The immersion in nature, the lack of outside electronic stimulus, the simplicity of life when lived in the now allowed a freedom to think and be myself mostly without the intrusion of outside influences. It was important to be involved in the lives of those around me and to be kind to them for I knew the next day there was no way to avoid seeing and working with them. Small indiscretions became big walls of dissension if not dealt with in a timely manner. Cliques developed and loneliness floated about formless and ghostlike unable to be ignored. The community mattered so when something happened 30 miles away either to the east or west it took only a little while for the news to arrive at our doorstep. How I am still not sure.
In order to entertain ourselves, we ate together, laughed and shared our memories, our hurts, and our joys. Our differing cultures were evident. We shared meals which, bathed in potatoes and homemade cake, completely different than any cake I’d eaten before topped with a beautiful strawberry cut in the shape of a flower, brought us together and made it seem a little more like home. We toured Glacier, packed in small cars or on the Park buses, jumping out whenever possible to view glorious vistas of mountains, rivers, glaciers, snow, flowers and mountain goats, which appropriately took our collective breath away. At night, we’d share where we’d gone and what we’d seen ohhing and ahhing over photos and the recollections of moose and bear encounters. Even now these thoughts bring a tear to my eye as I reminisce and miss my friends who are far away.
Those of us who were older shared craft beers and whiskey around stoves and campfires, the light from which softened the wrinkles and graying hair. In July, the berries arrived making the steep climbs, up mountains a feast and well worth the effort. I thanked the woodland creatures for sharing their bounty with us believing that the Mother of all would provide enough for all who were in need. Still, I tried not to gorge myself on the red, blue and purple berries.
Tiny alpine strawberries the size of an eraser packed a surprising burst of intense flavor…these were my favorite. Huckleberries followed creating a fervor amongst us all as we rushed to the mountains sides to collect and hoard as many of these small blue beauties as we could. We went on Huckleberry Pie tours discovering which vendor in the park made the best pie. Luckily, we walked off the calories every day either out on a trail or running up and down the 3 flights of stairs.
And so, I learned the rewards of a summer spent doing what I wanted, a summer spent living in the moment without too many outside influences. I learned that nature is both wonderful and terrible, it’s transforming energy life-giving no matter how intense the storms, snow or wind. I experienced becoming even a small part of the larger cycle as the modern world slipped away and I became part of the food chain. This escape defined for me what is real. The fertile ground running through my fingers when I plant is real and full of life. The wind which bends the trees and the breezes which touches my cheek lightly is real, the touch of a friend and their cheery hello is real, the brilliant sapphire sky and sun are real and living as one with earth’s creatures both wild and human is real. The cyber world…..not so much.
Now, as I miss me some Montana, I am grateful for this break from the modern world full of bustle, turmoil and imagined important to-do lists. I am grateful for the lack of media, stoplights and gas stations. I am grateful for my two feet which propel me down the trail, however short. I am grateful that the hum of the distant interstate reminds me simply of a field full of bees making happy working sounds. I am grateful that my path led me to Green Getaway Cabin and if ever I am able to return it will be with fond memories and feelings of joy and reunion like coming home to an old friend.