BY PATRICIA DUFF
July 22, 2013
I had the happy luxury of being invited to spend the weekend at Hedgebrook last week. I joined six other writers who were three days into their two-week residency and, for me, it was like a mini-vacation, with the added bonus of getting to write without the distractions of home and family, planning meals and shopping, and, most of all, the Internet.
Here is my love letter to the wonderful Meadow House where I stayed, and where the spirit of Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, Cherokee Wilma Mankiller and hundreds of other women writers remain seeped into its welcoming airs.
Dear Meadow House,
I love you.
I love your welcoming, sunny patio and your French doors.
I love the old log beam culled from your surrounding acres that hangs across your living room ceiling above your writer’s desk.
I love your view in which Deer Lagoon spreads out toward Double Bluff Beach and sometimes, if one is lucky, Mt. Rainier appears in all its glory.
I love that on this sunny July day I am surrounded by your green acres, your gardens, and that the moon rose last night in a copper pink sky.
I love that I can sunbathe with naked bottom on your fields, while reading an excellent short story in the New Yorker Magazine.
I love that a Cherokee Brave Dogwood was planted for Wilma Mankiller in your backyard.
I love your rooms, Meadow House, your light, your ease, your stones and wood.
I love the spirits of those women who wrote here before me.
I love your flowers cut from the Hedgebrook kitchen garden and how they remind me of the necessary beauty of color, and how color and smell are important to add to stories.
I love also your fresh, juicy plums heavy in the tree nearby.
I love your walk to the Longhouse and to the farmhouse kitchen shelves filled with treats.
I love that I brought May Sarton’s Collected Poems and that “The Work of Happiness” fell open and describes beautifully what happens at Hedgebrook, where the green and the golden blossom of nature with its echoing bird sounds and its quiet, breeds the welcome trance of work.
I love my Instagram photo of the moon in a pink sky during my weekend there.
I love the generosity of this grand gift given me from those who make you what you are; perfection.
I love the old magazine articles I got to read all in one sitting in the sun!
I love the novels I finished reading, including one by Mary Guterson, who, serendipitously, was in residence when I arrived!
I love that you let me read books in the middle of the day!
I love the delicious meals I don’t have to shop for and cook; the fruit, the cookies, the homemade strawberry popsicles!
I love your Hedgebrook pump house, your log barn and your bath house with its claw-footed soaking tub, and where one is remarkably alone, because of the uncanny natural synchronicity of your writer guests.
I love the bike rides I can take around the lagoon and the bluff with new companions from your retreat.
I love your acres of forests with ponds and your otter sculpture, and your benches for contemplation in all the right places.
I love your fellow cottages named Willow, Cedar, Fir, Owl and Waterfall, where writers are quiet with concentration and focus, and also where the sound of Hilary Sloin’s vintage typewriter can be heard pounding out her second novel.
I love having learned to identify the sound of ravens in your woods and following four of them toward the cathedral of Cedar Deep on a visit with one of my dearest friends.
I love the smells that fill my nostrils upon entering the Farmhouse kitchen, where a goddess named Rio stirs up the most satisfying feasts of flavors plucked from places not so far away.
I love the company of fellow writers with whom I am blessed to eat and the conversations that ensue around that beautiful farmhouse table.
I love the stories written by the women who have graced your cottages, and that for 25 years Hedgebrook has helped these writers bring those stories to the world.
I love you, dear Meadow House.
From my writing heart,
Patricia Duff is a freelance writer and the editor of this magazine. Consider becoming a member of WLM or buying an ad for your business to support this nonprofit endeavor to bring the creative community of Whidbey Island and its stories online.