Fiddlehead Fern by Deborah Gavel

A Trip to Gratitude.

That’s what it felt like at the Morris Graves estate. The Lake, as it is known, is a dense forest of redwood trees, some 800 years old, standing around a body of water that was created in the 1700’s during an earthquake. I came to think of this view from “my” studio windows as an infinite bowl of tea. The deep greens of the forest trees and fiddlehead ferns reflect into the lake water and create a continuous mirroring of dark, wet, fertile.

A row boat docked outside the studio became my cradle in this circle of eternity and the gentle rocking memory of trips around the lake stay with my body now. I worked on watercolors inspired by the work of M.G., made “thank you” cards; then watched, spellbound, as a bald eagle circled the lake three mornings in a row. Everyday I made journal notes which seemed somewhat pointless as no words can adequately describe this limitless place. Mainly, I felt my heart wide open with appreciation for all the support I have received through ArtSpark, and friends of my Kickstarter campaign.

Each morning I stoked the wood burning stove and then started to work. After lunch I soaked up as much as I could of the moisture outside on walks along the trails through the forest of giant grandfather trees to a waterfall. The location was already a masterpiece. Morris Graves refined it and built his dwellings: a tea house floating amongst yellow lilies; a studio; and a home cantilevered out along the lake’s edge with gardens and winding trails. All added to the magic of the experience there. In this piece of eternity, it seemed clear that I was there to share it in some small way with everyone who helped to get me there and so the retreat became about that, any idea I had about making work for myself slipped away and the end result was something about the nature of impermanence.

Giving back became the underlying theme of the journey. So, to the question, “how to decide on rewards, i.e., finding the right balance between a generous gift and the time it takes to create it?” Well, I never figured that out! For me the retreat was, and remains, a trip to gratitude, a journey into an immense silent place of extraordinary beauty, where my desires waned and a feeling of eternity touched my soul. It was a perfect time and place for contemplation on appreciation for all that really matters.