Retreat Weekends

I always wanted to go to camp as a kid. I’m not sure why I never got to. Maybe it was the cost; maybe it was because I was very shy. I’m not sure. Now that I get to make the decisions, I go to my version of camp.

My critique group, BLT, has been taking long weekends in the spring and the fall to recharge our creative juices, learn from each other, and relax without interruption. The first few times were in Estes Park surrounded by the beauty of the valley. Then we moved it to my brother and sister-in-law’s home near Red Feathers in northern Colorado, where we have uninterrupted vistas of the Continental Divide and no television or cell phone service.

Fred and Marilyn have been gracious enough to let us take over their house for the weekend and turn their spacious living room into four working studios. We have it down to a science now as to where the recliners are relocated and where to set up tables. Before we arrive, we split the color wheel and each brings along a selection of fabrics representing the color or colors we chose. The couch becomes our fabric store. We share tools, supplies, inspiration, material, and food.

Each retreat I’ve learned a new lesson. One early lesson is that sharing even your most exciting fabric, which you bought on the way to the retreat, makes you happy. This last retreat I learned that just because something has always been one way doesn’t mean you shouldn’t question it.

Last retreat, I ate tofu . . . and cashews, neither of which is on my list of favorite foods. OK, the cashews were more the consistency of hummus—which I do like—and the tofu was just tiny bites. When someone else takes the time to cook for me I feel I should go into it with an open mind. We all cooked vegan as much as we could this trip. I will not be giving up my beloved red meat, but I will be making cashew cheese and banana french toast. I’ll leave the tofu cooking to others.

I hope if we get to repeat our retreat this fall, there will not be an active forest fire just miles away like there was this past spring. We accessed the Internet to keep tabs on the movement of the fire. Fortunately, the fire didn’t become an issue because we were west of it with a wind mostly out of the west. I like it better when our only contact with reality is the deer that wander by at suppertime.