“Here, where the world is quiet…”*
Now we are in winter again… a season which seems to be the only time I turn my back on the busy-ness of our lives to write these notes. The stillness is pervasive, creeping through the January air, tethering to itself the lawns and fields, and their neighbor, the river. This moratorium in nature finds me, and beckons as an invitation to also stop: to step out from work and routine, and to listen to the quiet. I find myself made more aware now of nature’s dominance over the experience of living in the country and on the North River. It’s a constant, reaching presence and, in the flatness and quiet of winter, gives a steadiness and evenness underfoot. Winter here lays a kind of foundation, or blank slate, on which to record reflections – which, in turn, may bring about creating new ideas, new work.
This blog is a message to the “outer world”, from our winter retreat. “North River” is still here, and we welcome our guests’ continual visits. In 2013, we enter our fourteenth year sharing with others this spacious “place apart” from the busy world. In this country setting, you can wander one-hundred private, waterfront acres, with a choice of three, separate homes from which to watch the water and the wildlife. You can, and will, leave the din of commerce and crowded ways behind when you turn down our river-pebble lanes, winding to the water past a tidal creek or a wave of cedars and hollies to your own front door. When are you coming to stay?
As I write on this January day, geese are flying overhead and birds are hopping along the main drive. We are blessed with drifts of ancient trees, always majestic in winter – tall, bare boughs reaching for the sky. They seem to promise spring, simply through their bold, unapologetic “upliftedness”! Beyond the enormous trees, stretch peaceful, bare winter fields. Everything in nature seems to say, “waiting”.
You can “wait” here, too. You can unpack your bags, and take the time to just “stop”. Some folks read for days at a stretch, some just sit! And some find that they want to be here to work on creative pursuits. You can settle in to your room, or even have a house to yourself, and get out your pen and paper. The whole property is wireless, so your notes will reach the outside world if you want them to. Or, set up your easels and begin to paint: tidal landscapes, long reaches of the broad river, undisturbed Virginia woods. In the common rooms of Creek House, you’ll enjoy excellent acoustics with your musical group on winter nights -- by a real wood fire cheerfully blazing in the fireplace. And on weekends, wake to Ms. Hayes’ incomparable breakfasts. This weekend, it was banana-raisin-oatmeal pancakes topped with fresh fruit and real maple syrup from our own supplier in Vermont, Virginia sausage, and her famous Asiago cheese grits. After breakfast, walk along the shore, pause in the ancient acre-square walled garden, hike down the lane to the 18th century ice house and peer into its depths through the secret window cut into one wall. You’ll want to write or paint or sing before your day is over. “North River” is about retreating, “waiting” … and also about creating. We invite you to make the journey!
(* Garden of Proserpine, Swinburne)