I go home tomorrow. And all I can say is one week at Hedgebrook—or really any writing retreat—is never enough. One barely gets settled into a new routine (and catches up on her sleep) before she has to head back home to reality.
Nevertheless, it’s been a lovely experience. I have gotten some writing done, perhaps not as much as I wanted, but enough. I have met some amazing and talented women. And we have been blessed to work with the poet and social justice advocate Carolyn Forché, whose keen insights and encouragement have allowed us to see the ways we can improve our own work while at the same time being inspired.
I did not get to see an owl (at least not yet). Though several of the women here have. We have seen the bald eagles drifting on the winds above the fields across the street. We had a terrific storm the other night, complete with pounding rain and howling winds and a power outage—that was fun. I did take a walk down toward the sound, but turned back when the chill wind started to blow so hard I had to lean forward to walk.
There are journals in each cabin (my cabin is Willow), where women who have stayed here over the years have left little bits of advice or encouragement or poems or, even in one case, a CD with recordings of the frogs at night, which I downloaded. I was delighted to discover I know several women who have stayed in this particular cabin over the years: Hope Edelman, one of my mentors at Antioch Los Angeles and author of, among other books, Motherless Daughters; Marsha Rosenzweig Pincus, poet, teacher and one of my AROHO sisters whose one-woman show “Chalkdust” was produced in Santa Fe last year; and Wendy C. Ortiz, another Antioch peep whose memoir, Excavation, came out last year to rave reviews.
Other women who have stayed here include Kathleen Ross, president of Heritage University (1999), and the poets Amy Pence (1989) and Sharon Hashimoto (1996). Another woman from Santa Barbara stayed here in 1990: Kate Smith Passy, whom I don’t know.
The sound in front of Hedgebrook Farm is, inexplicably, called Useless Bay. Somehow, I know I will write about that someday.