The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.


on February 13, 2012


Have you ever gone away and isolated yourself to work on some creative activity in peace and quiet, away from chores and the phone? Jens Jensen, a landscape architect, once decided adults should have a camp-like retreat to escape to if they wanted to do just that. He purchased some property high on a cliff inEllison Bay,Wisconsin, overlooking the waters ofGreen Bay, and proceeded to build log cabins, connected by sawdust paths, laid out beneath a ticket of pine trees. To top it off he added a built-into-the-cliff retreat that one must approach, literally, by the seat of one’s pants. Ah – but when you get there, you are Thoreau in the wild!Edenmust have looked like this place.

I went one summer for a fiction writing workshop and, at the same time, there were poetry writing and woodcarving workshops taking place, each with about 10 to 12 people in them. Meals (oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar every day) were taken together at a central lodge,  preceded by a short inspiration reading of some sort and days were spent working —  really working – at whatever it was you had come to work on. It was the most productive work time I have ever had.

I was able to meet with the instructor independently, got good critical feedback, and was, for six lovely days, in the company of creative, stimulating people I will never forget the joy on the faces of an older couple as they left the woodcarving workshop on the last day, carrying a woodpecker and a thrush in their hands. I imagined them instantly mounting them on the front lawn of a curlicued cottage complete with white picket fence, window boxes of pink petunias, and a hammock under a weeping willow tree.

Door County, Wisconsin has much to offer a visitor. Fish boils abound, the beaches are idyllic, shopping tempting and frequent festivals of one sort or another occur. Yet during the week I spent at The Clearing not one participant left the premises to avail himself of any of that.  I do not here mean to endorse The Clearing. Rather my intent is simply to share what was for me a meaningful activity. It was one of those “I’ll never forget” moments.

Julie Rose


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