How to go on an almost-solo retreat

Decide you need a few days away from your messy apartment, your studio full of unfinished projects, and your intense client work.
Tell yourself this will be a painting retreat.
Look for a cabin in the woods, or by the ocean – or both! Book one that allows dogs.
Buy yourself enough groceries for five days, even though your retreat is only three days. Buy an extra bottle of wine, just in case.
Pack groceries, too much clean underwear, and an abundance of foul weather gear. Pack treats and food for your favorite travel companion, too.

Drive four hours, in the rain, on twisty Hwy 1, cursing your brilliant plan to go away in February, when it’s pouring rain out.
Drive too far south. Apologize to your travel companion for keeping him cooped up in the car for so long. Turn around, drive back up the mountain, past the most incredible falls you’ve ever seen so close to a major highway.
Arrive at your destination, which is even better than advertised. Plop down in front of the wood stove, which has been lit for your arrival.
Walk five steps from your deck to the creek which runs alongside the property. Dash back into the cabin when it starts to pour.
 Make smores.
Watch your travel companion park himself in front of the sliding doors. Realize he’s never been eye level with a view to the outdoors.  Praise him for barking at the neighbor’s cat, who has wandered onto the deck.
Go back outside with a glass of wine the minute the rain stops. Let your travel companion wander off-leash (he’s uncharacteristically slow in the middle of so much vegetation).
Make dinner, fall asleep at 8pm, listening to the sounds of the creek rushing by.
Wake up 11 hours later. Go for a hike to the top of the ridge, careful to avoid poison oak but knowing that you’ll probably catch it anyway from your hiking companion who keeps sneaking under the brush.
Plan to paint after you’ve started a fire.
Two hours later, with no fire in sight, wish you’d paid more attention to your brother and your dad all those years they lit fires in the fireplace.
Decide to get warm by soaking in the clawfoot tub in the bath house. Soak for half an hour.
Come back to the cabin. Still no fire.
Tell yourself it can’t be *that* hard to light a fire. Success!
Sit on the deck with a cup of tea. Plan to paint after writing in your journal.
Write for a couple hours. Realize that the stuff falling from the sky into your tea is snow.
Spend the rest of the afternoon inside, writing, drinking wine, eating smores, and *not* painting.
Bundle up to stargaze. See almost all the stars in the Big Dipper.
Go to bed at 9 pm.
Wake up at 7 am.
Take your travel companion out for a pee walk. Decide to hike up a new trail – in your flannel pajamas (and a down vest).
Make breakfast (tea and the last of the smores), start to pack. Cut up the apples to give to the resident horses.
(As a side note, finally see what the phrase “Hung like a horse” means, making you wish this knowledge still came from your imagination.)
Get followed, then cornered, then snorted at, by horses when you run out of apples.
See your travel companion run for the hills. Run after him. Carry him back down the hill while he pants with joy.
Walk around the cabin and grounds, saying “good bye” to the redwoods, the creek, the lit (!) wood stove, the clawfoot tub, the horses (who have decided that, sans apples, you’re persona non grata), the tiny, lovely cabin, the creek. Vow to return in a few months.
Realize you didn’t open your sketchbook once.
But feel that you accomplished everything you needed to anyway.

4 thoughts on “How to go on an almost-solo retreat”

  1. This looks like the most amazing place ever! I must go! Where is it? I want to plan to work in a cabin and then not do it, sounds blissful!

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top