Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

The Bridge Cabin     

Can you picture it? Eight women in a room. Okay, I see your grin and know what you’re thinking. No, this isn’t the first line of a bad joke. I can’t tell jokes. I’m forever forgetting the punch line or the string of events or something.

Each woman has her hands on keys. Not the pearly ones, but keys nonetheless. Some hands move, some lie in wait. Anticipation marks their brow and flickers in the starry far away look in their eyes. Some women face a window out to treed pathways. Others face each other, keyboard to keyboard. None of these women sit close enough to touch and yet somehow they do.

There is a fireplace in the room to keep them warm. A creek runs below their feet. It babbles, but does not interrupt. Instead it provides a source of hope, flowing as steadily and decisively as words can, at times, stream onto a page.

The tapping isn’t always present, but the energy is infectious. It touches each of the women one by one and any still hands begin to move again. No, this isn’t the secretarial pool of the 40s and 50s. These women are artists, all passionate about their projects, all committed to bringing their work out through the doors of their imagination and into the light.

The women are away by mutual consent at a retreat in the woods where for two days they focus on nothing else but their craft. No family responsibilities, no job distractions, limited email access, and best of all, meals and clean up done by others.

I know what you’re thinking; a retreat where women are involved by any other name is a pyjama party, brash and chatty. And yes, there is laughter and jokes and discussions. But all that happens outside the strictly scheduled workday. It happens over the lunch break or the supper hour. It happens late at night over a glass of wine before they go to bed. But it doesn’t happen in the writing cabin, appropriately named the Bridge Cabin, a place where thoughts and images channel into story. They don’t speak to one another when they work. They are too single-minded.

These women pour countless hours into their craft, sometimes for nothing more in return than a superbly fashioned sentence, the pleasure of hearing that sentence read out loud. They are passionate about what they do. And that is enough.

They look to these retreats as a way to move their work forward. When would they do so otherwise? Yes, they make time for their craft when they are at home. There are quiet moments stolen before work or after the rest of the family goes to bed.  They know everything they do in their lives is important so they squeeze, make compromises and bargain for, and with, time. This is what you do for what you love.

But in this place, on this weekend, no juggling is necessary. The women ebb and flow like the creek below them. Even talk is parcelled and savoured in its place and time.

I know you don’t believe me. Who would believe eight women in one room could be so quiet, so focused, so productive, so inspired and inspiring. I wouldn’t have imagined it myself if I hadn’t seen it. You see I was fortunate enough to be one of those women. Gratitude doesn’t begin to express how I felt about this experience, but it’s a good place to start

. Bridge Cabin2

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