Do you love to get away? Recently I was invited to The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow House in Eureka Springs to meet with the board about an artist’s suite that is being remodeled to honor author and one of the founders of the space, Crescent Dragonwagon . Eureka Springs is located in North Arkansas up in the Ozark mountains, a beautiful setting where artisans, creatives, and Ozark folks have lived for decades in this magical town.
My own experiences in Eureka involve visiting a dear friend from college settling in to practice medicine there, supervising student teachers in the area, and enjoying mountain biking when I was a mountain biker’s wife long ago (I biked parking lots, much more to my capability level…flat lanes, no hills, let’s just say it, I’m a wimp when it comes to biking hills) I regularly drove up from Fayetteville, Arkansas, where I worked at the University of Arkansas at the tim, to buy from the Farmer’s Market farmers. The food just seems to taste better there! The joy of moving to the Ozarks is now I can again! Eureka is also where the Dragon and I first met in person with consideration to working as a team to develop her online works. Eureka Springs is a special place and time for many reasons in my life, and it continues to be so!
The trip was planned for two days, one night, but of course upon arrival when a second night was available that was absolutely a joy to say yes to. Chad Gurley, the coordinator for the Colony, was simply a delight. Chad, whom I had already become a fan of for his podcasts, witty posts on Social Media, and kindness, was indeed kind in person as he visited with me a bit upon arrival. What a joy to finally meet in person. We share so many perspectives and experiences from our lives, you’d think we would have already known each other!
The Maya Angelou suite was my destination. Maya, who lived in the Southern part of Arkansas as a child, has a special tie to me that will be a story to tell another day, but suffice it to say, it was heart gladdening fun to know I was in suite named in her honor. Writer’s suites are important, to write, edit, or to work through stages of writing, it is such a luxury to be able to go to such a place. The meals are prepared for you at dinner as part of the space, and the other meals are available for you as your writing allows.Jana, the chef in charge, is simply divine and her food reflects it! Each dietary concern or need is accommodated, and grain free, gluten free, and fresh never tasted better!
Each suite provides ample writing and resting space and such serene scenes designed by Teresa Pelliccio, a tremendous artist and designer, a volunteer, who has done a masterful job in the redesigns. She and her husband have been such loyal supporters of the Colony. It is through their gifts that the suites are not only beautiful but functioning! The Culinary Suite, named for Crescent and her mother Charlotte Zolotow, is the only Culinary Suite for Writers in the world equipped with a wonderful chef’s kitchen and capability to prepare and engage food as writers write, test, and edit their culinary writing!
Meanwhile at the new mini-farm, Feller and the oldest of our children, Joseph and Kimberly, were working away on the tear out and beginnings of the cottage that has captured our hearts. I cannot wait to see what happens as they tear out the flooring in the kitchen. (notice I cannot wait to see…not as excited to actually DOING the work of the renovation, but you know as well as I do, I love the challenge of a renovation!)
We know there was extensive previous termite damage to the last two rooms (there are only 5) but we are unsure if that damage went through to the kitchen too.The joy is that Feller and our home team of grown children and their spouses, can do anything structure related that needs to be done. When I left for the trip the well was not working, when I returned the water was running well! Ask me how much I appreciate the folks at Crafton Pump who installed the new well pump and rewired the pump so we have water!
Eureka was my soul’s delight as the mornings are a fun mix of locals who are tolerant of the tourist, friendly tourists out walking early like I was, and gorgeous scenes of living colors that nourish my heart. What a time of restoration it was for me! I’ll share a few of the scenes I snapped while out and about.
Day One I also was involved in a photo shoot for the Dragon, she’s such a good sport about engaging while we’re building new coursework and classes for her original works Fearless Living and Fearless Writing. We have worked together for several years now,
I was an admirer of her work since 1991 when she came to my classroom at Jefferson Elementary School in Fayetteville Public Schools. She managed to bring the high energy I often share, as well as a “you can do it” release to my students who struggled with telling their own stories.
After over fifty traditionally published books, including a James Beard Award winner and a Coretta Scott King Award, why wouldn’t we all enjoy knowing her perspectives on stories that want to be told? I know I’ve grown as a person under her care. We both believe everyone is a writer, and she did a video on just that I’ll share soon.
The quick respite in Eureka came entirely too soon to an end, but I have already booked a next time, you know we do when we love the spaces we visit. I often disappear for a few days or weeks to work with a ghost project or to work as a strategist with an author about to launch, or do a new work with previous works in a new medium (audio or video) Working with writers and creatives, the setting matters to us, we drink in the beauty, the serenity and the joy of the spaces…and it shows up in our works.
Hope you are loving something about your days too. It is a challenging time, yet it is a freeing time too, what better way to face the current things happening in the world with the opportunity to do something new. You don’t have to buy a mini-farm as we did when Feller’s job went away due to Covid, but you could dabble in reading something new, trying out an art project you’ve been waiting to have time for, or perhaps start some new practices, such as a morning walk, or summer container garden. I’m a believer in engaging something new to bring joy to the heart and learning to the mind. Why not! Life is often hard, but misery is optional.