Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Last Call from Wellspring?

Some of my best times over the past few years, whether writing or relaxing, have been at a unique, though not secret, location in Mendocino County, the Wellspring Renewal Center. Now I've received some sad news.  They are closing. I am bereft.

We all know the economy has been hitting everyone hard, particularly non-profits. Like many institutions, Wellspring has always had to work to keep their outgo covered by their income. It seems that it has at last become insurmountable and after 30 years of operation, their board made the difficult decision to fold up the tents and turn out the lights.

I imagine that letting go of the book-balancing struggle is a relief in itself. But the place will be sorely missed by so many people. Moi, especially. It was my own Writers Residency that I was always accepted to; it was a retreat to the soul-healing woods when I and the Captain (aka Nearly Normal Norm) needed a respite from work, family, suburban noise and strife.

It's where the cabin porch always beckoned.
Where the swimming hole had its own friendly beast. 
Where I found an abandoned car in the forest. 

It's also where the Captain and I shared our cabin with a bat, but that's another story, and sadly enough, I have no pictures of that. "What in flaming blazes was that?" and  "Shoo, bat, shoo!" plus a frantic, high-pitched discussion about whether lights would attract or scare away flying rodents figured largely in that story. Eventually the poor beast found it's way out the opened door, and the next morning the staff treated us with that dignity reserved for suburban folk not used to country life, while patching the hole right away.

Actually, these were, in general, nice bats, important in maintaining an acceptable level of insect life nearby.  The next night, the Capt. and I sat on the porch at twilight and watched them swing out and around the meadow scooping up all those annoying flying critters and we were content. Especially since the bats weren't using our cabin as home base.

There are more stories of course:  the nightly call of owls, the sight of rabbits and herons, the amusing activities of the acorn woodpeckers and stellar jays - some of which I have told already. There were moments of poetry and moments of quiet companionship; there were times of insight and contentment only possible when the frantic buzz of our electronically-mediated world has seeped away. It will be difficult to replace this retreat in my life.

Wellspring will stay open through the fall season, until October 30th. Which means, if anyone is interested, there might still be time for one more visit, one more writers retreat. I'm plotting and planning right now.


  1. I came here from Paul Lisicky's blog, Lakin, ever pleased to meet a fellow writer.

    This retreat sounds ideal and it's sad you're losing it. We all need places like this, from which our stories can unfold.

  2. Pleased that you came by, Elizabeth, welcome! Paul is such a dear and his blog is a fabulous mixer of writer-minds.

    I visited your blog ( and instantly became a follower; you are a clear-sighted and thoughtful writer. I look forward to reading further into your archive.

    It will be tough to replace Wellspring as a retreat. I'll be going up for one last weekend ... and then be in the market for a new place, I guess. Or maybe it's time to seriously pursue purchasing that bit of land in the woods for a cabin...


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