Spring Arrives at the Retreat

By Vito Zingarelli

The sun has finally begun to grace us with more than an occasional appearance here at Hedgebrook.  The result is that beauty abounds and the blossoming of orchard, garden and forest brings forth both bounty and sustenance for all the residents of our 48 acres.

It is always around this time, end of April/early May, coinciding with the Hedgebrook

Women Playwrights FestivalTM, where we hope and expect the sun to return, allowing us the pleasure of al fresco dining and dramaturgical exchanges around the retreat grounds.  This year was no exception, although it was touch and go right up to the last minute, and we enjoyed a glorious opening weekend of play readings and community here for this year’s five playwrights and our theatre guests from around the country.

This week saw the departure of our playwrights and dramaturgs-in-residence and we have once again welcomed a new roster of writers of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir and screenwriting.  The writers-in-residence program is once again back in full swing and the cottages are filled with the diverse creative energies fueled by brisk sun-filled late spring days that are elongating towards the solstice when the last light of day here in the pacific northwest lingers until 11pm.  Perhaps a month away but the inevitability is apparent.

We have long awaited the ‘great drying-out’ from this year’s record rains and will now bid farewell to the overflowing ponds and running brook that came alive this year as Nancy, our founder, had envisioned 24 years ago.  It seems these wet days are now ending and we welcome the lush aftermath of such intense moisture now encouraged by the returning sun.

Hedgebrook is in a full court press to summer………….

Slow Spring

By Cathy Bruemmer

Seattle Tilth’s Maritime Northwest Garden Guide refers to April as the month of the slug. If you’re at Hedgebrook it’s the month of the snail. They are everywhere. I hunt in the mornings, watching for their slime tracks and looking under leaves. The rhubarb is an especially popular hangout. Sorry to those of you who are squeamish, but I’m merciless with my boot stomping. I feel a bit like the momma bear out there protecting my young. Given the cold weather and slow growth, the seedlings need all the help they can get. Fortunately, there’s Sluggo, an organic slug and snail bait that I buy in the giant 10-pound jug. Between the boots and the bait I think the garden has a chance.

There’s not much to harvest yet. This past fall I decided to put the garden to rest and cover crop every bed that wasn’t planted in garlic. I dug the cover crop into about half the beds in late February. Those have been planted in peas, salad and cooking greens, herbs, beets, spinach, carrots, fennel… Today I hope to finish the second round of bed prep. I grow starts at home on my sunporch, and it’s about time to move some flats out.

Two years ago I discovered a new pest in the garden: root weevils. They are tiny, the color of dry dirt and they devour new seedlings. I’ve always preferred direct seeding. It’s a labor-saving choice, and I find transplanting tedious. Twice I’ve added parasitic nematodes to the garden beds hoping they’ll eventually win out over the weevils.

Between the cold and the pests it’s been a slow start this year. My usual springtime optimism seemed to finally return, along with the swallows, last week. A little sunshine and a few degree increase on the thermometer makes for a happy gardener.

 

Rhubarb Cake

By Denise Barr

Each spring, when the rhubarb begins to flourish, this recipe is a hit with staff and residents at the retreat. It’s just one example of the way Hedgebrook features the bounty of the land and garden in the kitchen and at the table. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Cake

Preheat oven 350
Butter and flour baking dish (9×9 or 7×11)

½ C butter (soft)
1 C sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ C unbleached flour
3 tea baking powder
¼ tea salt
½ cup milk
1 tea vanilla extract
2 ½ C chopped rhubarb (¾ to 1 in pieces, about 4 stalks)

Cream butter and sugar until light
Add eggs, 1 at a time, beat well
In separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt
In separate bowl combine milk and vanilla
Alternate adding wet and dry ingredients to butter mixture
Spread 1/2 batter into buttered and floured baking dish
Sprinkle on rhubarb (do not press rhubarb down)
Top with rest of batter

Back 35-40 min. plus (test with a tooth pick, should come out clean)

Variation: May replace rhubarb with 2 ½ C blueberries or 2 ½ C raspberries

Welcome to Hedgebrook’s Much-Anticipated Blog!

By Amy Wheeler

Several years ago, Hedgebrook friend, local writer and owner of Whidbey Island’s iconic Clyde Theatre, Lynn Willeford, asked me point blank (in true Lynn fashion), “When is Hedgebrook going to have a blog? I’m interested in knowing what’s on your writer’s minds.”

Lynn was, characteristically, ahead of the curve with her vision! But she planted a seed in my mind about how we could begin to communicate the growing impact of Hedgebrook with our community. And not just on the impact on the writers who come here, but on the world-at-large because of those writers and the work they produce here.

In short: the idea that what happens at Hedgebrook doesn’t stay at Hedgebrook.   Read more

There’s No Place Like Hedgebrook

By Hedgebrook Guest

14 years later, on a teasingly sunny newly spring day, sitting at a desk in Hedgebrook’s office, I’m remembering my first trip out to Hedgebrook. I remember the feeling traveling over here from Seattle, where I was then the Literary Manager/Dramaturg at ACT Theatre. We were partnering with Hedgebrook on producing the first annual (then called) ACT/Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival, which, in two weeks, will now be in its 14th year. I remember then my curiosity, excitement, anticipation…venturing into the unknown that was Hedgebrook.

14 years later, on this teasingly sunny day, I remember boarding the ferry, and feeling an energy shift midway out on the water as the ferry approached Whidbey Island. A calmness set in, a peacefulness, a pause. I remember approaching the farm, riding through Hedgebrook’s welcoming gates, and feeling the energy around me—the quiet and peace, yes, combined with the spirit of all the generous work and gifts left here from hundreds of women residents before me.

14 years later, on this teasingly sunny day, I remember the face of one of the playwrights who, after an amazing dinner of food prepared from the garden, rose to take her plate to the sink, and was told by the chef, “Sit down, you are here to be a writer. Let us take care of that.” The writer’s face froze in mid-reaction, mouth open, eyes beginning to well up with tears. That image remains with me: a poignant example of what it means for a woman to be given the gift of nurturance, space and time.        Read more

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