Always maintain a kind of summer
even in the middle of winter.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Spoiler alert: I am all about the summer. As pretty as September might be (and for the record, she can be rather spectacular in this part of the world), she is always tinged with sadness for me — her cooler temps and reddening leaves can only mean one thing: it’s time for me to head to Australia!
Actually, I am headed to the UK next week and even a 7 hour flight tweaks me out. The idea of traveling half way round the world by plane is almost beyond the scope of my imagination, but if I could follow summer as she travels round the globe, I so would. Endless summer. Two words I very much like sitting next to one another.
Which is not to say I don’t like the rain. I am on record as enjoying a gray day as much as the next bluestocking. However, I do have a confession to make.
I used to be afraid of the rain.
Seriously, afraid. Not for me personally, but in the context of a Squam retreat. In fact, the weeks leading up to a gathering had a background chant running through my head that sounded something like “please don’t let it rain it can’t rain dear god don’t let it rain oh it can’t rain don’t let it rain” because, as you well know, if it rained everything would be RUINED, right? Ruined. People would have a terrible time. There would be no fun. No beauty. No happiness. A weekend of slow death, right?
So very wrong. Much like the Grinch who sat puzzling as he saw that taking away the baubles and bows, the lights and the trees, the presents and the roast beast did not take away the sweet essence of a most magical day in Whoville— I watched as lightning cracked over the lake, rain poured down heavily and people were, in a word, unperturbed.
People were . . wait for it . . still having a marvelous time!?
The hell? All those years making offerings to the sun gods only to learn– it really doesn’t matter. Wow. This sounds like a silly thing for sure, but for me– a huge revelation. And? an enormous confirmation of something I long believed — Squam is not an external thing. Sure, twinkle lights are fun and candles burning in ice blocks are pretty and waffles with ice cream for breakfast is delish– but all of that isn’t really what the magic is about.
The Squam experience is an intangible. It is energy. It is a mojo that happens when people with open hearts gather together and this gathering– our beautiful Taproot Gathering last week — was exquisite. Truly exquisite. Filled with so much gentle spirit and incredible food and an abundance of creativity.
I honestly don’t know what more to say except to tell you it exceeded all of my expectations for what a retreat can be and it fueled me to make some delicious plans for the year ahead.
Meantime, below I will link to people’s write-ups as they come in.
If you want to see photos I am hoping people will share them at this FLICKR SITE: The TAPROOT GATHERING at SQUAM 2013 – though I think many of us have moved over to Instagramming so in that case the hashtags that will deliver the good to you are:
(*if there are other hashtags, etc do let me know and I will share them here.)
It was so good. I hope you can catch the vibe and it feeds you where ever you are!
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(as always, click on the name to go to the FULL post)
“So, here’s the thing. In my mind, I’ve started this post, I don’t know, maybe five, six times. I’ve ruminated on it, and mulled over it, and otherwise thought it through. What I keep returning to, though, is that words really fail to convey just what it is that happened up on that glorious lake.
I wasn’t planning on having profound, epiphanic experiences.
I wasn’t at all intending to come away completely renewed, and restored, and invigorated.
I had no clue I’d develop deep, meaningful new friendships
the likes of which I hadn’t encountered in some time.
No, none of that. I just thought I’d go to the woods, enjoy the setting, teach classes on how to can foods and make dairy products, and return home. Little did I know.” ~ ASHLEY ENGLISH
“Sure, I was really slow compared to my classmates, but the thing about Squam? No one is judging you. It is a judgment-free zone. Even after three sessions I still need to be reminded of that.” ~ JEN BARLEV
“oh, squam! after coming back from squam, i never know what to write – and i never take enough photos or even begin to capture what a magical place it is.” ~ EMILY FALCONBRIDGE
“It was so good it was almost surreal, like a sweet dream gently nudged into wakefulness by the rooster’s crow. The dream was fluid, the conversations were lucid and uninterrupted by the needs of the small people, unencumbered by The List that always barks at me from the sidelines like an over-zealous basketball coach.” ~ MEG MCELWEE
“I have always been a grounded person, not easily swept up into the feeling of a place, especially if it’s a ‘zen’ feeling. I wondered whether that quality would stand in the way of fully experiencing a retreat like this. Would everyone else ‘get it’, and I’d be left out? Would it be magical to others, but simply a change of scenery and some fun classes to me? Well, I am here to say that there was something magical happening there. There was a kindredness I felt very much a part of. It was simple and special and just what I needed.” ~ MIRANDA WULFF ALTSCHULER
“How does one re-enter the world after a glorious respite in an alternate universe? How does one descend from this cloud without landing on her head or falling on her ass? Very delicately, I’d imagine, and slowly.” ~ MARY JO BORCHARDT
“I’m back from the Taproot Gathering at Squam and it truly was magical. When you get so many creative people together in such a beautiful place to connect, learn and make, magic does happen. The energy was incredible. I feel so exhilarated. I learned new skills and made new friends. I met other homeschoolers. There were so many kindred spirits, interesting conversations and ideas being shared.” ~ SARAH LEWIS-PARENT
“When you leave Squam, you brush the pine needles off your car and brush a tear from your eye. You try to memorize forever the sound of calling loons. When you turn and look at your cabin one last time, you don’t say “good-bye.” You say “until next time.” ~ BONNIE SENNOT
I watched new connections form, I watched teachers share skills and experience that was grabbed right onto with eager enthusiasm, I saw personal and community creativity blossom, I saw transformations occur, and I watched families (yes, families!) thrive by being together in such a space of beauty, kindredness, and learning. Goodness, we really do need each other, don’t we? We need community. We need kinship, we need spaces carved out where we can nurture ourselves and our families. Places we can leave from, headed home with new energy, skills, knowledge and experiences to better our daily lives and the world around us.” ~ AMANDA BLAKE SOULE
It was a beautiful whirlwind of an experience, soaking up beautiful New Hampshire in September with some of my favorite people. Swimming in the rain, crafting by the fire, meeting so many amazing and kind people.
~ PHOEBE WAHL
But it was so much more than that. It was a quiet and healing time for me. I feel so renewed and full. ~ SARAH GREENMAN
The magic of this place never ceases to amaze me.
The beauty. The people. All of it. ~ STEPHINIE MINER
The people who attended the gathering were an incredible group- many are homesteading, homeschooling, creating and nurturing in ways that simply amazed me. ~ CHRISTINE CHITNIS
. . . my mind has once again clicked over to a new setting of slow, calm, excited, inspired, focus, thrive, and light. Yes, all rolled into one. In other words, R E F R E S H E D. And, my heart is completely and utterly full. ~ RACHEL BINGHAM
I am not the sort of person who “holds intentions” or “moves mindfully” though my day, and when people say an experience was “real” all I can think is “how could it not be?” I mean, if it’s not a hallucination, it’s real – right? I try to be kind, and I try to be articulate and I try to get on with my fellow humans in a meaningful way, but that language isn’t part of the way I talk about how I live and I wondered if that would be a barrier. It wasn’t. ~ STEPHANIE PEARL-MCPHEE
When we conceived of the idea of attending the gathering we were looking for a vacation. That meant that there had to be something for us both to enjoy and so Friday was my husband’s day to express his creativity in the woods. ~ FAYE STEVENSON