I had come here to these peaceful grounds just up Morrison canyon in Kittredge to see if I could calm it all.
The finishing of a book and the insecurities of my mind which had been loud and clear throughout the writing of it, especially now near the end.
If I can’t relax here, it really is all on me, I told myself as I looked off my deck toward the rushing Bear Creek.
It had been while since I had caught a breath—a good, long ,deep, steady one in and out. I had spent every scathing hot day of the entire summer in a slow, abrasive process of editing and rewriting, not knowing if it would ever shape into anything resembling complete. There has been no guaranteed writing time with my two teens around the house, no structure to my work, trying to fit it in around everything else.
So I came here to the Cabins at Country Road to end it in a spirit of joy, not aggravation, hoping for peace within myself.
I asked also to be blessed with some kind of strength to face August and all the work still looming ahead because what I’ve learned about writing a book is that terms like “almost” and “finishing” are hugely relative and don’t fit at all with the terms of my ego.
The calendar has turned a few times already since I originally thought I might be finished based on a purely arbitrary guess back in December. People in the know keep telling me to treat it like the first draft it is and to expect a long process from here. I think I’m almost done but I may not even be close. I cannot hear that, though, because I’m ready to close it up.
It’s been a long haul, facing it day after day all this time. Emotional too.
I wondered how I could live so close to this retreat for the twelve years it has been open without knowing it was here. But then it made sense. That was the same year my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of two. Back then I wasn’t thinking I’d ever be taking a writing retreat by the creek.
I didn’t know then I would be writing at all, much less finishing a book about it. But that’s what I have been doing for the past nine months and ten years. Writing this book, the reason I started writing in the first place.
If there is the perfect place to consolidate what the whole experience has been, to express gratitude for what has been given, this is it. Clearly the intention of the owners in the creation of it was to be of service, to provide the amazing gift of rest and tranquility to those who come.
The first thing you realize when you step through the gates behind the Country Road Cafe into palpable peacefulness is that the owners, Sheri and Mark Finn, are both remarkable artists. Completely designed by her and completely built by him, thoughtfulness and respect for the land is apparent everywhere.
I stayed in the Chicken Coop, the newest addition to the property, but don’t be fooled by the name. Above the bed was a panel of wood carved church window shutters, and I thought this would be an excellent place to dream, to be showered over with a feeling of holiness and a grand flash of insight that would help me go home and tie the last of it up real quick. A girl can dream.
Three sets of french doors open to a private deck and a stone patio (in the shape of a trout) facing an expanse of natural landscaping leading to the winding banks of the creek.
I grabbed my notebook and took my place on an adirondack on the bank facing upstream with the late afternoon sun streaming through the pines up the canyon like mist.
The words immediately started coming in a burst every writer hopes to experience but tries not to expect.
When the sun set and the air cooled, I sat in the private courtyard of my cabin underneath huge pine boughs in a hot tub, jets set to a steady, soothing ripple. Nothing harsh or forceful. Every detail attended to.
Mark had strongly suggested using the dry sauna as a therapy. In the cabin a list of benefits were provided and I think they were talking just to me: use the sauna before sleep; after using the sauna, go to sleep; if you use the sauna, you will sleep better and easier. So just after dusk, I braved the wildlife and walked the solar lit footpath along the creek to do so.
Sweating there in the dark, gazing up at the color changing lights dotting the ceiling like stars, I willed the mind stuff to come out with the sweat through my pores. I settled in on the color blue and stopped the chromotherapy, which I found out later resonates to the throat chakra associated with the ability to express yourself. That works.
I did sleep great.
But I can’t remember any dreams dreamt under those church windows. Did I leave with a newfound sense of peace I didn’t have hours before? No. It settled in slowly and surely over the next few days at home though. Did I free myself from something, reach some new level, some higher plane? Don’t think so. But maybe that will become apparent yet also.
I do know I will return after the book is done, next time under less self- imposed expectation, where I will allow the fast rippling water to bring in new ideas and inspiration as I start to write—dare I say it—the next one.
Editor: Lynn Hasselberger
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