Brief Retreat at HewnOaks Artist Colony

Brief Retreat


Stepping out the door,

I immediately spot

the round-leaved pyrola

in bloom

with elongated pistils

arcing below

its petals of white

turned downward,

as if too shy

to share

its inner beauty.

p-mole ridge

Walking across the lawn,

I notice

a sudden change

in the ground

below my feet—

from solid to cushy,

where a raised ridge

about six inches across

snakes through the grass,

the work

of a mole

whose tedious tunneling

through the earth

is hardly ever

recognized as favorable.

p-red and white pines

p-red and white pines 2

Making my way

down the gravel road,

I find myself

in the land

of giant pines—

both red and white,

and so,

I bend my head

into a birder’s pose

to see their crowns—

so tall are they,

with branches and needles


even with

a neighboring hemlock,

as each vies

for the sun’s

life-giving rays.

p-trees kissing 1

Turning to the trees

beside them,

I spy

another white pine;

this one directly

connected to a hemlock,

like kissing cousins,

their trunks

naturally grafted,

providing internal support

as they

figure out

how to share

the space.


Moving downhill

with intention,

so as not to slip and fall

on the steep incline

and yet wanting

so desperately

to avoid the gnats

that harass my face

in their annoying fashion,

I wish for a breeze.


p-daylily flower

Spying a splash

of vibrant color,

my attention

suddenly distracted

from the gnats,

I see Daylilies,

the perfect flower

with thee sepals

and three petals,

six stamen,

their anthers

loaded with pollen,

and one pistil

protruding straight out

as she seeks

the offerings of others.

p-meadowsweet 1

p-meadowsweet flowers

p-raindrop reflections

p-ants farming aphids

Rounding a corner

on the road,

I spy a clump

of meadowsweet

standing tall,

its buds

slowly opening

to flowers,

crazy full

of stamens

showing forth

a fireworks display,

and its leaves

holding raindrops

that reflect colors

of the canopy above,

while on one stem

ants farm aphids

in search

of the honeydew

they produce

from sucking

the sugar

out of the plant.

p-sweet-fern patch

p-sweet-fern leaves

Nearing the end

of my journey,

I pause

beside a patch

of sweet-fern,

which isn’t really a fern

for it has a woody stem,

but its presentation

of leaves

appear fernlike,

and I celebrate it

as much

for its look

of curly leaves

extending outward

in every direction,

as for its scent

that tickles my nose

in the most pleasant

of manners.

p-Kezar lake

Standing at last

beside the lake,

I watch dark clouds

flirt with mountains,

and it is here

that I meet

the breeze,

light as can be,

barely ruffling oak leaves

and only slightly swaying

boughs of hemlocks,

while creating

mere ripples

across the water’s surface

that give way

to gentle waves

lapping the tops

of mostly submerged rocks,

just enough

to distract the gnats.

p-HewnOaks 2


Revering the scene

before me,

I give thanks

for I’ve reached Kezar Lake

at HewnOaks Artist Colony,

where each year

due to

the generosity of others

I get to spend

two hours—

a time to listen

as Judith Steinbergh

shares poetry

in form and sound

and encourages all

to notice,

to hear,

to see,

to be,

and then sends us off

as if

we were world renown writers,

and in those moments,

I am renown

in my own world

as I listen

to my muse

and let thoughts form

first in my head

and then

on paper,

all the while contemplating,

writing and taking photos,

and come away blessed

by the voices

I hear

of the flowers,

and moles,

of the trees,

and ferns,

of the lake,

and this place.


I am.

It is enough

no matter

how brief.

Thank you,


for once again

giving me

the opportunity

to retreat.

8 thoughts on “Brief Retreat at HewnOaks Artist Colony

  1. Another gem, Leigh…..peaceful, contemplative…….much appreciated by me.

    Faith sent from my Ipad



  2. Very nice, Leigh. Our camp is just across the lake and a bit N of HewnOaks—we can see it from our dock. You and Judy have inspired me to put pen to paper in homage to the beauty of Kezar.


    1. Thanks Mary. Always scary to share something like this. We are blessed with the opportunity. Can’t wait to hear yours–I know it will be amazing.


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