By Guest Author Administrator

Kelly Ford

I very recently came to be the head of housekeeping at Hedgebrook…how’s that for alliteration? I digress…

I came to Hedgebrook as a part time, back up housekeeper to the back up housekeeper. A dear friend and now roommate, was filling in on a temporary basis as a housekeeper. She asked if I wanted to train as an extra hand. I was in a failing marriage at the time and idea of being a steward to such an amazing institution on a beautiful property was hard to resist and so I said yes…

Long story, short, I was enamored and grateful to spend time on the property and peek into the inner workings of such a serene place.

The work I do is not complex, or mentally challenging for that matter. But, it IS sacred, methodical and meditative. I restore chaos to order. Clear out the old to make way for the new. Over and over and over. Yet, I do not find this mundane boring or beneath me. I cherish this work. It is good, honest and pure, I simply make everything nicer and more beautiful than it already is. I help make an amazing place, more amazing for amazing artists…who repay me, the world with art, beauty and words to fill our hungry souls.

The land itself is a balm for the soul, a beauty beyond words, respite, retreat and HOME. So those whose words I long to read, are inspired, nourished and restored, so they may create my future memories and inspirations, It’s a win win situation…on every level.

The failing marriage, finally failed, more alliteration.. and I took over as head of housekeeping. After a bit of a learning curve and a few meltdowns, I found my groove. My incredible colleagues now family, held me. , supported me and trusted in me…so many blessings. I was an emotional wreck and tried to keep a brave face in the midst of my own personal storm…and my new family never gave up on me. Because that’s the bigger part of the story.. Hedgebrook is so much more than a retreat for writers.. it’s a retreat for us ALL . .

It’s a magical place of acceptance and healing, so one may hear her inner voice and learn to trust it

My inner voice urged me to ask if I could stay in a cottage over Christmas, as it would be my first ever alone. I just wanted to know. These precious cottages, that we lovingly scrub and polish.. and the forest with it’s owls and ravens, and the bath tub, and the peace…I wanted to know what it is like to be a part of this gift. To feel the serenity the writers must feel, or the loneliness, or the fear or the joy. All of it. I wanted to know. I asked. Vito said yes. I was ecstatic! Alone on the property. I brought Christmas lights, flameless candles, music, books ,art supplies, good food and even, tap shoes! I turned down all invitations from well meaning friends who wished to cheer me up… I was cheerful and I wanted to be there. Alone. On Christmas.

I got to start my own fire. I build them daily.. and, its good to know that, the one match technique works! I also learned that fires need to be well tended.. and there will be many treks to the wood shed. Ashes will spill and fir needles will follow you in, no matter how careful you are. The dark and the quiet are so comforting, and one can feel such utter peace that it is humbling,

I walked the property, talked to trees, meditated, read , journaled and painted…I even practiced my tap dancing…and reveled in myself. There was only joy, freedom and wonder…

It snowed on Christmas eve. A heavy, quiet, beautiful gift fell from the sky and filled my soul with such peace and happiness. To walk through the dark forest, to a claw footbath tub was a meditation in joy. Queen for a day!

Christmas morning.. dazzling snow covered trees, my Christmas forest…the truest gift I’ve ever received. I felt as if I was chosen as the guest of honor at the most precious of celebrations. My heart was full and my joy immeasurable. And I understood. What goes on here. What it’s like to be nurtured and cherished by the universe. Where you can be yourself, and think your thoughts, and breath snow cleaned air, and be dazzled by natures best decoration,,,

And to think,,, that by tidying up and providing a clean, serene well tended environment…I’m assisting in  magical creativity and self exploration. What more noble work than that? What we do at Hedgebrook is more than work… It’s a collaborative construction of radical hospitality.

Such and honor…to be a small part of such a big thing!

             

 

 

By Madeline Ostrander

What We Owe Adrienne Rich

The late poet was a patriot who wrestled for the soul of her country.

I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn between bitterness and hope…

I was 19 when I first read Adrienne Rich and these words from “An Atlas of the Difficult World,” which seemed to tear down the barriers between the poem and me, and let me in.

Like Rich, I grew up at a distance from true poverty: “reader reading under a summer tree in the landscape of the rural working poor,” she writes. But I knew how fractured and unstable the world around me was becoming.   Read more

By Lesley McClurg

Turning Down the Volume

Surprisingly, the silence around me doesn’t feel lonely or empty.  The frenetic thoughts of my mind are quieted by the stillness here in Waterfall Cottage at Hedgebrook. I don’t feel my usual urge to fill space with sound.

Often the first thing I do when I come home to my apartment near downtown Seattle is cut through the emptiness by turning on the radio. I struggle to relax when my apartment is quiet because the stillness feels oppressive. A creepy loneliness settles over me when I sit and eat without the radio playing. Music or podcasts are my imaginary dinner guest.

Yet, here in the woods where nature offers only the subtlest noises, I don’t feel alone.   Read more

By Honor Molloy

Poetry in Pavements

 I grew up in a house filled with music and jokes and song. A robust language rang off the walls as the family freely quoted Synge, O’Casey, Shakespeare, or Bubbles, one of the Dublin characters my father, John Molloy, collected. Both of my parents were theatre artists dedicated to preserving a Dublin vernacular that split a two-syllable word into ten, giving it a hundred new meanings. Back in the 60s, there was lively poetry to be heard on the streets and in the markets that was rapidly fading. So, the two of them took material straight from the mouths of the Moore Street dealers, buskers, down-and-outers with extraordinary language and stories. More…

By Sheila deShields

No Longer Missing

We may be exiled, or considered black sheep, if we go away or astray.  Not so with Hedgebrook.  Somehow my email address was lost for ten years, and then they found me, and life hasn’t been the same since.   Read more

By Eve Ensler

Ambiguous UpSparkles From the Heart of the Park (Mic Check/Occupy Wall Street)

I have been watching and listening to all kinds of views and takes on Occupy Wall Street. Some say it’s backed by the Democratic Party. Some say it’s the emergence of a third party. Some say the protesters have no goals, no demands, no stated call. Some say it’s too broad, taking on too much. Some say it is the Left’s version of the Tea Party. Some say its Communist, some say it’s class warfare. Some say it will burn out and add up to nothing. Some say it’s just a bunch of crazy hippies who may get violent.

I have been spending time down at Zucotti Park and I am here to offer a much more terrifying view.   Read more