Saturday, May 25, 2013

When Words Count Retreat

Nestled among mountains of green outside of Rochester, Vermont is the When Words Count Retreat. My good friend and writing buddy Beth Garland and I had the pleasure of spending four days and three nights there last week.

Beth and I eating pure sin at the local soda fountain

I could spend this entire post restating what is on their website, but, I won’t do that. Click here to read the details, and I will say that the beauty of the place is understated on their website.   What I want to tell you about are the things that aren’t on the website, the things that I personally found very special.

The Mark Twain room
I live in the desert. Being surrounded by fifty different shades of green instead of the usual brown of my environment was a novelty. I can only imagine how beautiful the area is in the Fall and Winter. On the drive to the retreat, both sides of the road were graced with creeks and brooks and waterfalls! Yes, waterfalls! I drove with the windows down just so I could listen to the sound of water. One particular waterfall outside of Granville, Vermont was so breathtaking that Beth and I had to stop and stand before it.  Granville is about ten miles from the retreat, and well worth the drive.
I live in the city. Walking through the town of Rochester, as well as several of the surrounding communities, is like taking a step back in time. Antique cash registers. Small book and antique stores.  A soda fountain with homemade brownies and bread pudding.  I watched several children play in the Rochester town square and wondered if they knew how lucky they were. I also wondered if the residents even felt the need to lock their doors.

I love animals. Although I have unique wildlife in my part of the country, I made it a point to search for the local animals. Taking the two mile walk around the block at the retreat, I passed farms that had cows, baby goats and alpaca. I also saw a red fox, what a cute little guy, ducks on the pond and geese taking their morning walk down the road. I missed the coyotes I was told live nearby and the bears and beaver weren’t willing to show their paws. For those that don’t know me well, I’ve been trying to see a moose for three years. I finally saw one.  That was a big score. At night, the sound of the many peepers were a melodic addition to the rain.

What a view
I love people!  First, I have to say that the staff and owners of the retreat are wonderful. Diana aims to please, Chef Paul aims to make you gain weight, and Jon and Steve offer great writing advice, encouragement and interesting conversation.  Second, there are other writers there, new friends from different places. I’ve always loved meeting other writers, hearing their words, listening to their stories. This trip was no exception. I made new friends.
So who cares about all that, right? Writers care. Getting out of your element is an opportunity to see things differently and gain inspiration. It was relaxing, fun and definitely a chance to write. In fact, I came back with a new project idea that I have been working on for the past week.

Would I recommend When Words Count to others? That depends. If you like sitting in front of your computer at your house, doing the same old thing every day and don’t need or want to experience anything new or meet wonderful people, then no.

However, if you are a writer who wants a relaxing place to write, eat good food, engage with others and gain a bit of inspiration, then yes, check them out.  And enjoy the experience.


Suzanne Shumaker said...

What a great experience - and substitute for MFA residencies. Thank you for sharing and inspiring me to do more of the same.

Nana Prah said...

It looks like it was a wonderful experience. The place looks beautiful

jenifer badamo said...

It truly does sound amazing, buddy. I'm going to look at their website right now.