I live about a mile from Walden Pond, Thoreau's famous nature retreat outside of Concord. I've adopted it as a favorite spot of my own; there's still a reverent, hushed quality to the pond and the trails surrounding it. Last summer we tried to hike around it at least once a week (at first it was the overly ambitious once a day--what was I thinking?) and, while our early enthusiasm wavered in late July, I think we made it probably ten times. I love the idea that Thoreau just decided, "I'm going to live here for now" and set up camp. I wonder what would happen if I did the same thing in the same spot today? Probably be kicked out before sundown, I would guess.
I completely believe in the restorative power of a good retreat. Stie's recent post from her lovely kids-free retreat (courtesy of a certain travelin' oma) reminded me of my great-grandma Brockbank (I've already posted about her here and here). She had nine daughters and, as you can imagine, her life was full of laughter and noise and laundry and teaching. Every once in a while (maybe yearly?) she would say "I'm going to live with the bears" and she would pack up and leave her daughters in good care with a relative (or with each other as they grew older) and check in to the Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City for a week.
She took a whole suitcase full of magazines with her (I really am her granddaughter in so many ways). From her journal: it was "my therapy. I could get a room for five dollars, and I read and slept and shopped and renewed myself for the next year...I'd sleep late, then out for a hearty breakfast, then didn't need to eat until dinner." Only a few select friends were invited to visit or lunch or shop with her and no one else was allowed to contact her, even in emergency. At the end of her stay, she would return to the house rejuvenated and restored and ready to go on mothering. And she sent the message, loud enough so I still hear it a couple of generations later, that it's okay to be good to yourself, no matter who you are or what you do.
Where would you go live with the bears?
p.s. My apologies if any of my few readers actually subscribe to this blog...I've edited and republished this one about five times!