Just Right

A retreat means different things to different people. I’m a bit like Goldilocks with her “too hot” and “too cold” – looking for “just right.” I see references to anticipated trips to the beach and think, “How boring.” At the opposite end are those who go to theme parks, and I think, “Over stimulation.” I am away this week at the one that, for me, is “just right.”

I am at the Carolyn Yoder Alumni Retreat put on by The Highlights Foundation. Yes, they are the ones who publish Highlights for Children that you loved as a child and still find in your doctor’s office. She is their nonfiction editor for the magazine and the book publishing arm. As you might guess, you can come to an Alumni Retreat if you have been to one of her workshops before.

At the moment, I’m sitting alone on the front screened-in porch of the family home in the Pocono Mountains where Highlights began, watching the sun come out after a summer shower. Surrounded by pens, paper, and computer that spread across their old dining table, I have no calls except to write words.

For a solid week, the only scheduled time has been three and a half hours of one-on-one fine tuning time with Carolyn, three chef prepared meals a day, and nightly critiques. My fellow attendees are serious about writing. On the few occasions when someone has shared this dining table, she gave brief friendly greetings before beginning her own writing in companionable silence.

The closest I’ve come to being distracted from writing has been watching a chipmunk eat his breakfast, a spell in the tree swing down the hill, and a short daily walk to watch Calkins Creek babble its way under the bridge.
I’ve found the retreat that’s “just right” for me:
    A week away
        At Calkins Creek
    With words to write
        But few to speak.