Installing the top row of the blue styrofoam footer forms on a windy afternoon.

Wind, Hope and New Workshops

Installing the top row of the blue styrofoam footer forms on a windy afternoon. Installing the blue styrofoam footer forms on a windy afternoon. (We’re still “below ground.” The tops mark the floor level of the new house.)

The wind is howling outside, roaring by in gusts that feel like they must be going 80 mph, although my wind gauge hasn’t recorded any higher than 30. There’s another spring storm blowing in, our third in a little more than a week. As one of my concrete crew said late this afternoon as they were struggling to anchor the footer forms for my new tiny house, “Springtime in the Rockies.”

Yup. And I can’t complain (much), since the last two storms brought us a little more than an inch of moisture, more than we’ve had so far the whole dust-dry winter. If whatever’s blowing in brings us more snow, especially the wet kind, even the wind will be a gift. Of a sort.

Sea kayaking at La Partida, where the sea turtles feed, Isla Espiritu Santo Sea kayaking at La Partida, where the sea turtles feed, Isla Espiritu Santo

This kind of weather has me thinking about running away to warmer climes. Which is what I’ll be doing when I gather a group of writers and companions next February for the second Write & Retreat workshop on Isla Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez off Baja California del Sur. We’ll leave La Paz on Feburary 9th, headed for Espiritu Santo, an island so incredibly rich in biological and cultural features that it is a protected area. Our outfitter, Baja Expeditions, the founding ecotourism outfitter on Baja, spearheaded the movement to preserve this extraordinary place and operates the only permanent camp on the island.

Baja Expeditions' comfortable "eco-camp" on Espiritu Santo. Baja Expeditions’ comfortable “eco-camp” on Espiritu Santo.

We’ll stay on Espiritu Santo for six days, ensconced in safari-style canvas tents on the beach of a quiet cove, waking to the sound of brown pelicans “thwacking” the water to stun their breakfast of sardines. We’ll paddle sea kayaks in turquoise bays, snorkel with sea lions, watch flying fish leap out of the water like falling stars, hear canyon wrens trill and great horned owls hoot. We’ll fish and hike and lie in the sun on the beach–and we’ll write, read our work, talk craft and art, and recharge our creative wells. We’ll also eat great food prepared by our camp staff.

If this sounds good, download the flyer on from my workshops page. Spaces are limited, so sign up soon.

Sunset on the Sangre de Cristo Range from the pools at Joyful Journey. Sunset on the Sangre de Cristo Range from the pools at Joyful Journey.

The original Write & Retreat workshop, held last month at Joyful Journey Lodge & Spa in Colorado’s San Luis Valley was so successful that I’ve decided to make it an annual event. (“Do not change a thing,” wrote one participant. “Reserve me a space for next year.”) I’ve already reserved the lodge at Joyful Journey for March 20-23rd, 2014. Mark your calendars….

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I have to confess that my malaise and restlessness are not just from the weather. Yesterday’s bombings at the finish of the Boston Marathon weigh on my heart and spirit. I cannot understand such cruelty. I believe we will recover from the shock and pain and fear given time, just as I believe offering each other compassion and love is the only way to live, whatever happens. Words have great power to heal, and to restore our hope, our faith in the basic goodness of our fellow travelers on this numinous planet.

I am reminded of the first stanza of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Hope” is the thing with feathers:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches on the soul
And sings the song without the words
And never stops–at all

Bless you all.

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