She brushed her hand down my neck, pushing down my scarf to reveal as much skin as possible. Then, she quickly and with minimal pain, pulled the finest filament of hair from my newly exposed flesh.
This is the story of a couple of wild women on a road trip except we are not Thelma and Louise. We wanted to experience the peace of pastures, and the beauty of the beasts! We wanted to cook and eat simple foods, and hear rain dinging off a tin roof, and flex our creative muscles and commune over sharing our intimate stories. We could save fucking-up the patriarchy and driving to our glorious freedom for another day.
We found everything we wanted at Mariposa Farm. We parked and unloaded our car, met the manager, and loaded all our supplies in a wagon to wheel with us on a twenty minute hike to the secluded cabin. We got there right at the golden hour and it was so wonderfully perfect.
Once we got to the cabin, we knew we were just settling in for the night and getting ready for the next day to come. We laid out all our supplies and arranged them in the Best Spots. We brought the fire to life in the wood stove and did our best to light the space, and sat down for a relaxing shared meal of olives and spreads and cheeses and wine.
Once our bellies were full, we stepped out to look at the stars in the partly-overcast night sky. There is a big clearning close to the cabin, and the treeline turned the edge of the sky into a big circle. Some stars shone through the shedding branches and others danced above them, beyond, the clouds hid them from us. We heard an owl and saw a shooting star.
Once we realized the camera wasn’t capturing the beautiful scene set before us, we started playing around with exposure times and movement and turning our bodies to smoke.
The next morning was quiet. Terri resurrected the fire while I woke, and she went back to sleep as I made coffee. I wanted to sit outside and enjoy the sound of geese, hunters’ rifles, and leaves falling into their already-landed companions. I brought out some blankets, and my notebook, and my carving tools, then made myself a little cocoon in the hand-crafted Adirondack chair. I wrote and wrote until my fingers were too cold and my heart was too exhausted to carry on. Carving would have to wait until later. These are the things that set my soul at ease. These are the things that move me forward in growth.
Before our trek out to the cabin, we had planned all our meals and divided up responsibilities for the supplies. When we were unpacking the night before, I learned that instead of packing the hollondaise sauce mix as I had intended, I packed a packet of cumin. Even with all the meticulous planning, things don’t always go as expected. This is such a minor gaffe though, the breakfast was still quite good.
Our kitchen set-up was simple. A coleman stove, a pot, a pan, a kettle, and dishes for two. They provided non-potable water and we brought some drinking water, and lots of wine.
We finished our breakfast, washed up and got dressed. Our host had stopped by earlier to drop off a few things and told us that he was working on fixing up and older cabin just down the way and invited us to check it out. He told us it was a bit hidden, and it really was. The track seemed to lead to nowhere and we had to search a bit to find the cabin hidden below a little incline.
It was a bit smaller than the cabin we were in, but it was easy for me to imagine just how comfortable it would be to stay there. There is something so beautiful about a hand-built shelter that contains just what one needs; heat, water, a bed, a view. Below the cabin was the tree line where the woods became a big open space. I was worried about crossing that threshold, as we had been hearing the sounds of hunting all day and I am a dear but I don’t want to be confused for a deer. Terri was the braver one this time. She had the wonderful idea of collecting various items to make a bouquet representing our walking adventure. I examined the marks left by other creatures and collected fallen birch bark.
We then decided to go back up the hill and explore some of the groomed paths we saw. They are all named, so it was easy to feel safe in knowing we would not get lost. Left on Suzanne, stop to snuggle some moss and have a leaf-fight, continue along, right on Philippa then back to our cabin to drop off the treasures we collected along the way.
The clouds were darkening, yet we decided to go back down to the farm and spend some time with the animals before settling back in to our cabin. Just as we made it to the pavilion, it began to drizzle. Around the side was a pond where we noticed a swan. As we approached, it let us know we were in its territory by puffing up its wings and thrusting its chest toward us. As we walked about, the rain started to fall harder and I took cover beneath some trees and we met a cow that thought it was a cat. She kept rubbing up against us and trying to snuggle. I was into it but also worried about the power in the beast. Just a little gentle rub easily pushed me back a step. When the other cow joined us, Terri got in there and some romantic magic happened.
When we got back, we were both a little damp. It was still lightly raining but I was feeling so inspired to paint the scene from our perch. I bundled up in my cozies and hid from the rain as best I could while I started sketching in watercolour pencils. It didn’t take long for the wind to change and blow too much water on my page for me to continue. I came in to find that Terri had just finished preparing lunch.
She set out our bouquet on the table and we sat to eat and talk. It was at this time that I felt a real loosening in my chest. We travel well together. There is the perfect balance of interaction and quiet, of action and repose, of sharing our vulnerabilities and just being a couple of silly-headed ding-dongs.
Darkness began to fall and I set out all the carving tools. I showed Terri some basic things. There was blood, and we cracked open the first aid kit. Terri pulled up a stool and warmed her feet by the fire while I continued to carve by candle light. I don’t rush. I’ve been working on the same little piece of wood for months. I care more about the meditative process of shaping the wood into my vision than I do for getting it done quickly.
Did I mention we brought wine? Oh yes we did and on this night we made sure we wouldn’t need to carry any of it back with us. We roasted marshmallows in the wood stove. We painted in the dark, which is less dangerous than carving in the dark but just as difficult. We talked about the ways we like to be creative, our strengths and weaknesses, our processes and our goals. When we found our commonalities and complimentary skills, we became quite excited and developed some shared goals. This breathes life into my soul! Shared projects are great for me because it necessitates complicity and trust and mutual motivation. This is what I seek to have with the people who are close to me.
As darkness brought us into sleep, rain was making music on the tin roof. I felt so cozy and insulated in this hide-out.
The next morning, we knew our time was up. As we ate our last shared meal, we coordinated tasks and planned our exit from this dream. Terri had a heavy heart already, while I was feeling excitement over how full my heart became over these days and about the process of bringing all that I had gained from this experience into my day-to-day life. I also felt pressured and motivated to finish my painting before leaving! I went outside and worked on finishing it up. I was very happy with the results.
During our time in the cabin, I looked at wine stains, and a forgotten chain necklace and thought about how each person who had stayed there had left some kind of mark, even if I was not aware of it. I thought about what we might leave there, wax drippings from our candles, a box of matches, a roll of purple duct tape we brought along in case our water jug continued to leak. A place like this evolves and grows because of the people who breathe life into it. I hope that we made it just a tiny bit better for the next one(s) there.
Just before leaving, we went in to check out the restaurant and the farm store. We weren’t able to stay for lunch this time (but are planning to go back for it soon) but the way they displayed their menu had us salivating. I also picked up a variety of fowl to enjoy in the near future and have greatly enjoyed what I’ve eaten so far.
This experience will be tough to beat. The whole place is charming, and cozy. The people we encountered were nothing short of wonderful. We created magical moments for ourselves and filled our hearts with the warmth of a thousand wood-stove fires.
*the vast majority of these photos are by Terri Figueiredo
On this day:
I’m back from the best cabin weekend ever (photo editing needs to take place before really writing about it. It’s all about the PROCESS) and I’m wearing the awesome scarf I had with me and it smells like woodsy cabin but really I’m at my boring office desk.
You get one (unedited) photo.
On this day:
I was listening to music on my iphone on some speakers that synch up using bluetooth. Then I hopped out to go to the corner store but still wanted to listen to this music so I popped in my headphones and continued on my way.
So anyway, I just walked in my door and the music suddenly dropped out of my headphones and just as I thought WHAT THE F the blue tooth speakers picked up the signal and the song continued in super loud glory.
This just feels like I live in the jetsons.
On this day:
It is finally happening. It’s finally the week ending with a trip to the dream cabin with Terri.
I’m planning on bringing all my wood carving stuff, water colour painting stuff and at least two paper journals.
I’m planning on communing with nature, communing with myself and communing with my good friend. I love where our conversations go when we aren’t distracted by other people, or events or tasks.
I love art but I don’t feel like an artist. Maybe I’m more of an art facilitator? I model for artists anyhow.
My art is me. I guess I am performance art. My focus is to make myself happier and wiser and with a rich soul. The medium is my interaction with myself vs my interaction with others. I’ll know I’m done working on this piece of art when it’s no longer a performance or an exercise and is just IS.
Art is expression. Art is communicating thoughts and emotion. Art is visceral and honest.
On this day:
In 2009 – a guest post!