I spent a few wonderful days at Ragdale last month. While there, I started work on some assemblages which are a part of a larger body of work (including poetry, short stories, and performance) inspired by my maternal grandmothers. A lot of progress was made on this project, and the ideas seemed to flow on the open air during my long walks on the prairie trails. Work in my studio was a result of being able to clear my head in such an inspiring setting. It’s always wonderful to be afforded time outside of the city, and be provided with delicious meals, solitude and community.
During the day, artists and writers spend time in their studios working, meeting up occasionally and/or coincidentally in the kitchen for breakfast, or a lunch of leftovers from dinner the night before. Evenings are when the residents come together for dinner prepared by the Ragdale chef. In the dining room ideas are shared, connections made, and friendships started. Lots of laughter ensued with the wonderful group that I was in residence with.
On our last night at Ragdale, we gathered out on the screened-in porch of the Meadow Studio. As the sun was just starting to set, there was a quiet hush. I felt bathed in the red/orange light that shone through behind my closed eyes, and I allowed myself to become absorbed in it. The warmth of that light enveloped me in a peacefulness that induced an unsolicited meditation. I was able to sit there quietly for five, maybe ten minutes. As the sun slowly dipped down behind the trees, conversations began. Red wine, home-crafted beer, and a 14 year scotch were some of the libations that moderately flowed during our visit.
The sun had set a couple hours before we exited the Meadow Studio, and when we left, we were greeted by a sky clear enough to see the Big Dipper. Being surrounded by trees on all sides, while in the center of the open prairie, made the sky feel domed above us. The moon was at first quarter, and it was bright enough to light our way back to the Barnhouse, where we all would spend our last night at Ragdale.
The next morning, a few of us met up for yoga in the garden. We all chose spots in the sunlight in which to position our mats, raising arms in urdhva hastasana to welcome the day, reaching up with no ceiling to cap the open sky above us. The roses were fragrant; and the birds, in symphony, were accompanied by the sound of the fiddle being played by a resident in the Friends Studio. A light undercurrent of the sound of bow on strings rode the wind out to where we were. Birds and bow, and breeze through leaves was our peaceful soundtrack. It seemed like the sun was shining there just for us, because as soon as we went back inside, it moved behind the clouds and stayed there, as one by one, we left the grounds.