Monday, March 24, 2014

Reflecting on a Story: ISLAND Hill House Artist Residency

I recently returned to Traverse City after two dreamy weeks at the ISLAND Hill House Artist Residency near East Jordan, Michigan, where I was spending time writing poetry.

During my stay, I also wrote some music and story ideas, kept a journal, designed a dream home inspired by the Hill House and took these photos of my experience:

I fell in love with the scenery immediately. 
Driving up closer, it's a narrowing road.
A first glimpse from afar. And once inside:
A handwritten note, a jar filled with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, a bottle of Chateau Chantal Malbec 2011 and two handmade journals in which past residents have documented their experiences at the Hill House.
The Dreamer's Dictionary and an Alaska coaster on the nightstand in the downstairs bedroom.
The mirror hanging above the fireplace mantel.
Swinging to the west.
Snow levels upon my arrival at the Hill House.
A view from the west deck of the Jordan River in the distance.
Inside the cabin too there was open space.
And inspiration was everywhere.
One of the comfiest spots around.
Yet each inch of the cabin felt like home.
Every angle felt loved in an almost-ancient way.
Rooms nurtured by language, silence, music.
Scenes that could be paintings calmly existing in a place.
Existing so to be seen, if ever one saw them.
Keys revealing tangible visualizations of what is possible.
A cosmos on a shelf.
And garbage can dancers.
Upstairs bedroom charm.
Pat Carroll: Luminescence pinned to the Hill House walls.
Found scenes remembered only from dreams.
Humor was like a scavenger hunt.
Sunsets were taken in.
Pasta and spinach were cooked.
Sunrises too were consumed.
And words that had been forgotten for years were read in the light of day.
Glorious books from Traverse City.
Glorious places to read books.
And glorious times to come across some early Hemingway.
And to feel like Elsa from Frozen.
There was Johnny Cash on the record player.
And two new originals were born on the Hill House piano.
Angels in the angles.
A king of the world kind of feeling.
Mixed with a humble lonely.
And the bliss there is within that matrix.
And then there was the day the snow started melting.
A temperature indecipherable except with tastebuds.
The sun shone as if nothing had happened, as if this winter had never been, and for a moment I forgot the months past and melted with the snow on the west-facing deck at sunset.
Snow melted off the swing so I sat and wrote, looking over the woods, swinging.
And the light started melting through the windows.
I watched.
And I read Faulkner.
And laughed in the bathroom.
And played a little piano.
Then the snow came back after a nighttime rain froze everywhere to ice.
It was immense and beautiful.
And much colder than freezing.
And the loneliness led nicely into warm celebrations at Short's.
There was beer and conversation again. There were people laughing.
There was this, apparently.
And then there was the way back home.

Thank you, Yvonne, Brad, Amanda, Jen and everyone at ISLAND for making my Hill House time so memorable. 

Writers, studio artists and musicians: Apply by April 1 for an Hill House Artist Residency this summer or autumn.