I am on a writing retreat this weekend. Originally it was a retreat with a friend, but it turned out to be a retreat for just me. (I wish her a good weekend of peace and love tinged with a small amount of appropriate sadness that she is not here.) With only one retreatant to consider, plans have evolved to high levels of flexibility. The place I am staying became available sooner at the last minute, so I started my retreat twelve hours early.
Besides full kitchen and private bath, my quarters come with access to a state of the art kayak and nearby river, accessible bike paths and a slew of bikes to choose from. Anything I could wish for is in walking distance. My picturesque room overlooks a neighbor’s black paper roof in reasonably good condition. Couches in my sitting room are clean and comfortable. I am expected to take out the paper recycling on garbage day and give a one time drink of 1/4 cup of water to a very unpromising bit of green sticks who claim to be an ailing orchid. Presumably I am to do my own dishes, although that wasn’t mentioned. Besides that, I am tasked to sit quietly, write, rest, and eat.
My inaugural retreat meal last night was red pepper humus, cherry tomatoes, extra old cheddar cheese, a fat slice of homemade bread, and some red wine. Preparation: one minute. Clean up: approximately 15 seconds. Perhaps the wine was slowing me down. First deep consideration: How can no one in my family like hummus? First deep conclusion: There should really be more meals like this.
In keeping with good retreat etiquette, I’ll be out of commission and away from the blog until Wednesday, July 1. By that point, half of you will be celebrating Canada Day, which incidentally is much more retreat like than the bombastic chest thumping of the American 4th of July. So here’s to the written word, beauty, truth, the yearning need to create, mental health, rest, re-charging, and Canada. With a nod to them all, I am on retreat.
With the family away, I wrote Friday until 6:00pm in order to earn the right to drive the tractor until 8:00pm. I ran the bushhog on our far field while keeping a close on eye on the ground for rocks and creatures. Last year I stopped just short of a partridge on her eggs. No partridges were disturbed by me this time, but I saw a painted turtle and jumped off to move him out of harm’s way. As I bent down, instead of curling up inside his shell, he ran. I got back on the tractor laughing. What if all turtles can run, but it’s one of those things that just isn’t done? What if this one was running because he was too young (or too socially awkward) to know better?
Boy one’s barn chores were uneventful except for Misty, who snuck in behind me to the sheep barn. The children love the pony. Boy one talks to her, grabs her mane, cajoles her, puts his arm around her, pulls her, and generally does whatever he wants with her like she’s his sister. Misty and I don’t have that kind of relationship. I spoke, she ignored. I pushed, she rolled her eyes. I didn’t try pulling because it seemed ill advised. After ten minutes, I went and got the whip, which I didn’t plan to use but I wasn’t going to tell her that. She saw me come in the barn and stand in the corner. She glared at me and took one deliberate step at a time toward the door. Before she left she turned and barred every one of her senior citizen horse teeth at me.
Outside she walked around to her stall which was not in great shape. I pointed out to her, while cleaning up her stall with a close eye on her, that the crap she was standing in was thanks to her boy who could do no wrong, whereas the clean floor with fresh straw was thanks now to me.
The rest of my weekend retreat was writing, plus a birthday lunch for a friend. I got drenched doing Saturday night’s chores. It felt like a fitting baptism for the new hope I was feeling. I gave Misty a night off on her diet so she could stay outside to eat all night with the cows. For my part, I found myself a good documentary (on sugar!) and settled in to watch with not a stitch of laundry folding attempted.
The gang returned safe and sound to a house with no electricity and one roll of toilet paper. Everyone took it in stride for the hour of waiting. On the camping trip, the family found clay, discovered a cliff they could climb, watched a raccoon try to steal their food in the middle of the day, saw a porcupine on their hike, and swam in the still frigid lake. A resounding success all around.