The act of moving back, withdrawal. I’m sitting in a ship named Elsie on a mountain in the Rockies. Elsie’s a modified fishing boat (thanks to architect Richard Henriquez’s redesign and generous donation) where I’ve withdrawn from “normal” society to immerse myself in a world of the arts (retreat seems a bit of an oxymoron, as I’ve not withdrawn so much as entered a liminal (it always amuses me that the spell check doesn’t recognize the word liminal) space).
It was cold when I arrived on the tail of a storm that left winter enthusiasts extremely happy. I drove my little red car onto a parking lot behind Lloyd Hall one week ago today and have not had to get back in it since. My days are spent at the computer, my feet resting on the side bench, and I research various items and ideas for the poems. I’ve set the goal of a poem a day. So far I’ve managed to fulfill my goals.
The wind is up today, but it’s plus 3 outside, with sun and snow dropping through the trees outside my window. My studio space is secluded from campus, nestled among the evergreens, the elk, the deer, and the chickadees, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to pull away from the daily activities that make it so hard to focus on the creative process. I see my fellow artists occasionally, often at lunch and dinner, and we converse about our progress. It’s inspiring to discuss how we work, and how we work in different mediums. How we proceed and how it is we do what we do. We’re making connections that may often last a lifetime. We’re reflecting daily on art in an environment that encourages and promotes artists and art.
Of course, there are distractions such as mountain hiking, hot springs, musical rehearsals and concerts, even shopping if I were to let myself be so distracted (me, shop, how absurd), but these are not so much distractions but part of the retreating process. Food for the mind. Energy for the words. It’s all part of the experience of my retreat at Banff Centre.