We’re close to two months since this year’s fall Squam Art Workshops session now, and I think I’m just beginning to close the books on understanding what this session meant to me. I’ve had a harder time digesting and processing this year’s experience than I think I ever have, including even my first year back in 2012. This session was strange for me; I was still feeling physically weakened from my Penland experience and was afraid to be away from home – a feeling so foreign to me that I had no idea how to begin to cope with it. I went into the woods feeling so vulnerable and with no idea how I would bring my energy to the experience in a way that would do it honor. In any other year I would have said that the classes are really secondary to my Squam experience, and I expected to be too drained to get much out of them this year. In the end, though, they were the highlight of my session, comforting in a rare way, thanks to my two beautiful teachers who just brought such calm, healing energy into their classrooms each day.
My first class, on Thursday, was with Nicola Taylor – an exercise in portrait photography with a fantastical twist. We were posing for our own photographs, which was really important to me but also felt very vulnerable. I was humbled by how everyone in the group really supported me and helped me through the process. When I saw my photograph at the end I was completely speechless at how perfect it was, how powerful and authentically myself it made me feel. And the whole thing was drama free, peaceful and even fun for me, which I never expected. The whole class was such a gift and I’m just so grateful to Nicola for creating the space that allowed this moment to happen.
In 2013, I discovered that it can be important to have one “pure joy” class on my roster – something that doesn’t stress me out at all and feels like a great natural fit. I knew Nicola’s class would be a stretch for me, so I planned to take Ann Wood’s sewn botanicals class as my joy class this year. As usual, the Squam staff somehow put my classes in the exact order I needed, and after a rough morning on Friday I found myself tucked in at Longhouse with Ann and my fellow students. Ann welcomed us to class with simple yet lovely kraft boxes filled with materials, right down to sewing needles and pins, and from the moment I saw the table all set up for us, I let out a deep breath and just fell into the work. It was one of those days where you need to be in a place of ease and somehow everything seems to align itself to comfort you. Ann was such a generous teacher – supplies, time and counsel. After Friday’s class, she offered to host an informal sewing circle in Longhouse on Saturday, and I popped in and out throughout the day, ending up with one finished mushroom and two unfinished projects to continue working on at home.
Aside from the soothing, peaceful rhythm of the classes themselves, I found a lot of comfort in how easy it was for my body to function normally at Squam. Elizabeth was concerned that I would overexert myself and was constantly looking out for me, but the natural structure of both RDC and SAW means that it’s just flat easy to be pregnant there to begin with. There is definitely a lot of walking around in the woods, but I know the paths so well that one night I found myself walking around in the pitch-black dark without my flashlight, and I felt no fear at all that I would fall. Of course, at Squam you just can’t wander around in the dark without a Squammie with a flashlight seeing you and running over to light your way – which absolutely happened. The sweetest woman ever found me halfway through my walk and guided me the rest of the way home, even stopping outside her cabin to hold up her flashlight over the path until I made my way to my cabin safely. Sweetness and light in the darkness – my metaphor for this session.