Western Mass is good for the soul. So is writing.

img_5811I expressed interest late and was told the workshop was full. Facilitator, Maureen Jones, would put me on a waiting list just in case. I discussed Dog care with husband and confirmed that he wouldn’t be in Russia or China that week. Then I forgot about it.

Imagine my happy surprise to learn that a space had opened up! My writing teacher and her sister were going. We would make the trip west on Route 2 together. There was an ease and a flow to it all.

(Except for Finn, maybe, who according to K spent an awful lot of time at the side door, waiting for me).

img_5849Every morning I wake with unnameable dread. “What’s so awful, again?” I wonder. It’s how I felt after each of my parent’s deaths. It was how I felt when my sister was hospitalized in 2009. It’s how I feel most mornings now.

‘Oh, yeah, Trump. The whole awful mess.’ Which is why is was so good to get away. Not that I didn’t look at news, I did, but with rolling ancient hills stretching out in the distance in unbelievable beauty and the quiet, it was hard not to feel restored. Also, having been born not far from there and lived in the Berkshires or the Connecticut River Valley for 15 years, this is the landscape that most feels like home to me.We stopped at a funky place near Charlemont for ice cream. I passed on the sugar — it being Day 8 of my new regime.

It was hot. Really hot. There was no AC and the fan/outlet/screen situation was far from ideal. It was a big presence, the heat. It made all of us go more slowly. Some of us took regular cold showers, including me. Not tepid or body temp showers, but bursting cold showers. There was an outdoor faucet equipped with what they called a “fog nozzle” (sounds like a sex act) which delivered a delicious mist of cool water. I stood naked under it, but some enjoyed its spray fully clothed. Just to cool off. One woman had to quit early. We all understood.

img_5817We were thirteen, counting facilitator — all women (remind you of anything? Just kidding). Half the group was trained as teachers themselves but came to write as participants. Maureen Jones, pictured in closest Adirondack chair below, was lovely. She knew how to open up to the imagination AND keep time. She was thoughtful in her responses to EVERYONE and shared her own work. She helped all of us cope with the oppressive air by here and there adapting the schedule. If she judged anyone, it didn’t show.

There she is again, on the right.

The couple who ran the place produced one delicious meal after another, often featuring produce from the garden. Because I was neither procuring nor preparing food and because I was vigilantly excluding sugar (and gluten) from my diet, I DID NOT THINK ABOUT FOOD EXCEPT WHEN I WAS EATING IT. I cannot tell you how unusual and liberating this was.

I woke up in time to see the sunrise one morning. One evening, a lightening bug flew into my room and made a flashing circle around me before exiting. One afternoon there was rain and a double rainbow. Nothing like my day to day, in other words.

Next post: something about the writing part of the getaway.

12 thoughts on “Western Mass is good for the soul. So is writing.

  1. Tina Zaffiro

    Other than the heat so far it all sounds and looks amazing ..,I’m really happy that it all came together the way it did. It does sound like you are walking around with a heavy heart .. if you know the SERENITY Prayer .. the words are ones that I go over most mornings when I take Sweety for her walk. God Grant me .. God Grant us the SERENITY etc etc. Those few simple words help me find peace. And God can be what or who ever you need him or her to be. Sending you BLESSINGS .. love and hugs.

    1. deemallon

      Thank you for reminding me of those words. I’ll print them out later. It would help to avoid my phone for the first hours of the day, too. Such kind words here are a balm. Thank you.

  2. Connie Akers

    Thank you for sharing. My mornings often start like yours. You’ve reminded me of the necessity to keep working/creating or rather to return to it even or especially during times such as these.

    1. deemallon

      Yes. A page can be a place to either work through or set aside the overwhelm. Or cloth. Or canvas. Thank you for commenting. The other thing that I find helps is hearing that others feel similar distress. This week in my Indivisible tele-conference, we all admitted to feeling tired. Worn down. Hoping to reboot in September in time to volunteer on midterm campaigns.

  3. nanacathy2

    Beautiful pictures, loved the watering can by the logs, it tells a story of its own. Sounds like a good experience and I know what you mean about food and having to think about it on behalf of others. I bet your dog gave you some greeting on your return.

  4. Saskia

    sounds and looks like you enjoyed a lovely work retreat, despite the heat….these days I think these kinds of challenges are here for ‘a reason’ ……. ((in my case fear (of pain) is such a big part of my life now, I’m trying to face it head on))


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