Thursday, June 4, 2015

Turning a Year Older at the Rensing Center

When I reflect on my recent three-week residency at the Rensing Center, I am grateful for the details of the place--the little writer's cabin with its screened-in porch, the desk with the porthole window onto the trees, the little green ceramic mug for my morning coffee, and the Alder Creek trail with its rope down to the falls. I loved greeting the baby goats every morning alongside the soundtrack of their ringing collar bells. I enjoyed the heft of carrying my laundry from one end of the residences to the other to wash and then dry; I counted on my routine of nightly discarding my compost in the bin adjacent to the garden. The later part of my scheduled residency happened to coincide with my thirtieth birthday and I realize how grateful I am to have celebrated it in such a peaceful and enriching environment. People kept calling my birthday a milestone birthday and the term slightly unnerved me, as if the age was supposed to come about alongside its own attendant achievement and success. It can be tempting, of course, to look around on one's birthday and ask, am I doing enough? Being enough? I think, for me, escaping to the shaded and forested hills, the pasture, and the creek; holing up to complete a draft of my book, helped me to focus on the work at hand. It turns out, the details of the place helped the details of my project to appear in focus. I was able to sit and, for hours at a time, read. For hours at a time, I could write. The time and space allowed me to figure things out about my project and to take it in directions I'm not sure I would have otherwise discovered.

My actual birthday was full of wonderful people. The day before, some dear friends made the trek from Athens, Georgia to visit and we sat up on the porch talking late into the night. On the actual day, Ellen, the Rensing Center director, had a lovely potluck for me at her house. The fellow Rensing Center artists-in-residence were there, as were many people associated with the Center. There were cupcakes with chocolate frosting (thanks to Katie the Rensing intern!) and we toasted champagne around a perfect summer bonfire. It's a birthday I will most certainly remember.

During the early days of the residency, I had a slight nagging fear that I wasn't accomplishing enough, but as the days went on, I found a rhythm. When I left, I was so excited about the momentum I'd created. I left ready to continue writing and revising my project. I was more certain of where to head next.  -- Lindsay Tigue