writing retreats in Maine

How Maine calls to artists/by Nancy Coleman

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What is it about Maine that calls to artists? What is it about Maine that stirs the Muse to speak?

I wonder if it’s the fog that wraps around us on an otherwise glorious summer day, that shuts gently the doors to perception of what is around us, that opens as quietly those internal shuttered gates?

“May I be as the fog,” became the opening line to a song that came to me as I sat on a rock on Mt. Desert Island on a June day years ago. I had been planning a hike, a paddle in the campground kayak around Somes Sound, a day of brilliant sunshine and striking contrasts in the deep blue of Maine’s Atlantic waters and the deeper greens of the pointed firs. A day, I had thought, that would inspire exhilaration, make me want to climb high and dive deep, make me breathe fully of her beauty. It could have been that kind of day. Maine summers are like that, breathlessly and breathfully inspiring.

But it would be a softer kind of day that greeted me when I stirred under the down coverlet in the six-person tent I was managing to fill quite well all by myself. Other than the cries of young gulls who swooped on the tide flats below me, a veil of quiet had fallen in the night. Where I had hoped for revelation, Mystery arrived in her stead. Brilliant blue and forest green had given way to the softest of greys. Distant views moved in close, disguising themselves as forest gnomes and unnamed emotions, the sadder kind, the kind that almost but not quite remembers something it once loved, the kind that longs for something it might never have. And around it all, stillness. Stay here, it said, stay hereThis could be the most beautiful day.

And really, it was. On the wings of the gulls and the tenderness of those grey clouds resting on the earth and the sea came a song:

 May I be as the fog, drifting in the bay

May I be as a leaf, graceful as it lays,

Grow as tender, as a flower, even more than I would dare,

May I come to be a dancer on a wing and a prayer.

I think this is a writer’s prayer as well, isn’t it? That we’ll come to the page with openness and readiness, without expectation but with every hope that we’ll be invited to dance? And although I would not ever want to give up one sparkling minute of that other kind of Maine summer day, the kind whose dazzle we cannot drink deeply enough, I’m always grateful now for the Muse of fog that turns us inward, retreating from our senses toward those inner mysteries, the ones that invite us to Stay. Stay here.

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Join us on the Coast of Maine, June 22-28, 2019.