Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reflections after Hill House

Alice Beckett
December 1-15, 2010

I arrived at the Hill House on a snowy afternoon after a red-eye and a long layover, so I was excited but exhausted. Walking into the cozy house, I was welcomed by fresh flowers, a thoughtful note, and a warm bed, which I fell into right away. I slept away that afternoon, ate a delicious dinner, and then wrote five thousand words while snow fell gently outside. I called it quits at three in the morning, totally satisfied with my “day.” My diurnality was wrecked, but it didn’t matter.

As the “days” went by, I discovered things about the house: places to work, places to curl up and read, which one is the best blanket. Having always lived with other people, I also discovered things about myself: I don’t talk to myself; I get scared of the dark; I like being alone. Every day, I wrote for several hours, but even more I read. I read book after book, in complete, uninterrupted quiet. During those silent afternoons in the hammock, and those long nights by the fire, I focused on what makes a good, absorbing book, and I renewed my excitement for trying to make one.

From the home-raised eggs and vegetables at our potluck, the dinner conversations about cheese caves and brewing chemicals, and even the unhomogonized milk in the fridge, it was clear that the ISLAND staff care a lot about how good food, and other good things, are made to happen. They are passionate about producing the means for good living, and helping others do the same. Because of their influence, I am more conscious of my power to make the things that matter to me, including stories, and to do so on my terms.

No comments: