Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Chat Noir Retreat - Day 1

Maybe I should call it Day 2.

Just getting here, to Blue Ridge, GA, was an adventure in and of itself.
3 women, a wheelchair, enough food to keep us going for weeks, if caught in some kind of natural disaster, water, coke, tea, Red Bull, art supplies, blankets, pillows, clothes, computers and 2 bottles of Absinthe at my feet. It was touch and go whether we'd even leave Jacksonville. But 8 hours, 3 stops - which included unpacking the car in order to get the wheelchair in and out of the Ford Focus - we pulled into the steep driveway of a wooden cabin hidden in north Georgia mountains.

My writers group, Chat Noir, is on retreat for three days. Retreat, I'm learning, means different things to each of us. There is writing to be done, for sure. But mostly we're here to unwind, to soak up the serenity provided by the cabin's seclusion, to refuel our creative tanks. I'm pretty sure drinking and laughing are at the top of the to-do list.

When I say cabin in the woods, you are probably thinking small, rustic, creaky, perhaps a little smokey or stale. Well, think again. This place is the largest cabin I've ever seen. Think castle in the woods. Three floors with bedrooms galore. Enough bathrooms for 8 women, kitchen counters laden with food stuffs for vegans to meat eaters and everything in between, an espresso machine, a crock pot, and a plethora of potent potables.

I'm staying in a loft, sleeping in a bed that could be exactly what the doctor ordered what the doctor should have ordered for my back.  I awoke this morning to the sound of women laughing. When I opened my eyes, I looked across the room, through A-framed windows. Through the trees I could see the mist rising over the mountains.  Torn between more sleep and curiosity, I crept downstairs to see what was going on. Leeanne and Carol F. huddled around Amy's bed recounting their drive through small Georgia towns yesterday.  Remember, these are writers I'm with. Southern writers whose genteel  conversations, peppered with unexpected curse words,  flow like sweet, iced tea on at a garden party.  These are the ladies I think of when I hear the term steel magnolias. I've known them long enough to know their tales are born of hard times and heartache, yet humor resounds in every narrative.

The last retreat, (as if there are many) I took was back in January of 2007, when I began writing this blog. I needed a break from the rigors of caring for my Dad.  I may have become a hermit in the intervening years. I had way too much difficulty saying yes to an opportunity to spend time with some of my favorite people, doing one of my favorite things.

"Do you have a sense of foreboding," Sweetie asked when he saw my hands shake.  I couldn't define my anxiety. Just knew it was there, in the pit of my stomach. Every jangled nerve relaxed as I settled into my tiny space in the back seat and the journey began.

So I'm here to relax. To spend time in a place where bird songs and a slight breeze sends autumn colored leaves dancing to the ground. To retreat from the busy-ness and weary-ness of the world. To submit to the silence. And when I feel myself on the brink of going stir crazy, I only have to walk from one wood paneled room to delight in the community of women.

Wishing for you time to slow down.
Merry ME

PS My camera is broken and I don't know how to get pictures from my "smart" phone to my computer.


Jody said...

It sounds blissful, dear M.
I am so happy for you!
And proud of you for venturing out and going!

Enjoy your three days retreat in the castle in the woods with the wonderful bed and big windows and interesting women writers!


Anonymous said...

I am so living this retreat through your words! thank you for sharing!!!

Molly said...

So happy to see posts again in my feeder...and pleased that you are enjoying Blue Ridge...it's beautiful up there.

MamaJoe said...

Sounds lovely! I love reading what you have to say...the delightful way you write and the pictures you paint I. My head are a joy!