Natasha Kassell talks about writing retreats
Natasha Kassell describes her writing retreats at Pendle Hill, staying at Spring House overlooking Brinton House pond, and her home away from home.
For the past year, I’ve visited Pendle Hill nearly every week for a twenty-four-hour self-guided writing retreat. Upon arriving, I settle into the Spring House. When the weather is cool, I light a fire in the wood-burning stove and make myself a cup of tea. Then I sit before the writing table and look out onto the pond. If I’m lucky, I’ll see a kingfisher darting back and forth or a hawk circling overhead. Or, I’ll simply gaze at the reflection of the trees and clouds on the still water. Then I turn my eyes to my laptop and delve into my writing, uninterrupted by emails, meals waiting to be prepared or the needs of my kids.
After a couple of hours, I break from my work to walk around the grounds and run my fingers along the bark of the majestic beeches, hemlocks, and maples; to bury my face in the wisteria in spring, inhaling its heady fragrance; or to sit at the edge of the pond in summer, watching the tadpoles squiggle beneath the water’s surface, their legs growing longer with each passing week. Infused with an increased sense of purpose, I return to my writing.
In the evening, I walk to Main House to take a wholesome meal with other sojourners, community members, and conference attendees, many of whom share my curious calling to tell a story. Then once again, I return to the solitude of the Spring House and work until late into the night. In spring and summer, the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard is accompanied by the love songs of the bullfrogs and cicadas. In fall and winter, I’m met by a blissful stillness that cannot be found at my home in the city.
I find that I make more progress with my writing during my time at Pendle Hill than during the rest of the days combined. Of equal importance, I return home feeling spiritually replenished, eager to see my kids and better able to find joy in the tasks of everyday life.
I’m immensely grateful to the folks at Pendle Hill for welcoming me into their community, a place I think of warmly as my home away from home.
Thinking of trying your own personal retreat? Start here: more information about sojourning at Pendle Hill.