Photo by David Belisle
Hedgebrook, established in 1988 by Nancy Nordhoff, is a women’s writing retreat located on Whidbey Island in Washington State. This year we had the pleasure of being nominated to attend the first ever program centered around singer/songwriters. Our reflections:
My journey to Hedgebrook began with an illuminating high from my performance with Shabazz Palaces the night before (THEESat’s first time performing in SF). It was a great, fun show and with this glow I readied myself for a 10-day singer/songwriter retreat on Whidbey Island. Unlike other retreats we had the days open to us for whatever we would like to engage in and were only required to meet daily for dinner and on Sundays for brunch. I found it to be a delightful way to stay connected and interact with the other residents.
The first few days the sun was beaming and the weather comfortable. Once Stas and I arrived we went our separate ways. We decided to take this opportunity to have our own experiences here and have our own cottages. (We still met and hung out some though because I love my babes.)
My temporary home included a loft, a small kitchen, several air horns, a rocking chair (loved), a small bathroom and a wood burning stove to heat the cottage. The stove concerned me a bit because although I have been known to start a few fires with my words, I hadn’t yet mastered a physical wood fire. Even with directions it was a toughie, but I sorta got it. It takes a lot of blowing, strangely enough.
The distractions of the city became quite visible. Silent sustained reading was only a 30-minute routine in Middle School until now. All to be heard was the simple tick tock of a small clock by my bed and the owls cooing at the moon. With this I was able to create in a new way.
There’s a kind of energy flowing throughout Hedgebrook that cannot be ignored.
A longing to reconnect with oneself
A want to dig deeper
A space for women writers to free their minds
A spiritual place
The stories told in my music morphed. The air breathed in it and made way for new tales. Varied songs without words and words without songs arrived. That warmth of a crackling fire and the sensual hum of my mini fridge were beyond charming (it must have been fridge mating season because all off them were constantly moaning). It was nice to have some recommended moments to sink into myself.
The entire scene was majestic. Thousands of years of strong energy live and wisdom blossoms here. Many women will be touched by the Hedgebrook experience.
Made a J*Davey mix that forced us into car dancing all the way to the ferry. Driving north is foreign. I don't know anyone that lives passed Ballard, which is 20 minutes away from where I stay. Easing on down the hill to the ferry dock there was a disgusting view of the brightest February sun haloing the Olympic Mountains providing a background for Whidbey Island floating in the Puget Sound. We ride the ferry to "Hi Sun". Pulling up to Hedgebrook I immediately thought, "Schrute Farms!" and I would’ve loved if Dwight and Mose came out and helped me with my luggage. Then as I walked deeper into the forest to my cottage I shifted my thoughts to Twilight #teamjacob. Trees, sharp air, more native than savage.
My cottage's name was Willow. She greeted me with lots of windows, a loft bed room, a mini fridge, a french press, an ihome, a wood-burning stove, a bathroom, and 2 airhorns (one by the bed). I plugged the iHome into my computer and let the iTunes shuffle. LL Cool J, Earth Wind and Fire, Donny Hathaway and Chaka Khan settled me in. I familiarized myself with Willow by laying on the daybed, making myself a cup of coffee, trying to start my first fire and figuring out how to get up and down the loft ladder without bustin' my ass. I then felt the urge to roam the rest of the 48 acres I was given. walking by myself and listening to no one. Pond, llamas, bird chirps, tall grass, muddy leaves. 5:30 was dinner time, the only activity we were required to attend. Chili, manchego cheese, mixed greens with red onion, grapefruit and orange segments. Washed down with wine, then Bulleit, then Hennessy.
Sat by a luxurious fire in the common room with the other four lady-songwriters and we shared tour stories until about midnight. I remembered to bring my flashlight cause I was certain the walk back was going to be blindingly dark. When I walked outside I needed nothing. The moon was brilliantly bright, stars accenting and showing off. I walked with my face upward, parallel with the ground on the way to Willow. Climbed the ladder safely, unfolded into the full sized bed. I read from A Mercy and worshipped Toni Morrison to sleep.