Friday, March 11, 2011

Artist's Way Seminar: Prelude

My Artist's Way seminar starts today, but I've already been here for a whole day.

I arrived a day early to the Kripalu Center on purpose so that I could get my bearings in the new surroundings before plunging into the writing seminar.

Plus, I wanted to have time for a yoga class or two and some nutritional discussion, as well as go to a meditation class.

It turns out to have been a really good decision.

Here's a report about my doings from yesterday, from start to finish:

I spent an early chunk of yesterday in Northampton, soaking in some nostalgia from my college days.  I started the day parking downtown and heading over to Thornes -- which is a very cool converted old department store building that has been subdivided and made over to house different shops:  a great coffee shop called Rao's where I started my morning with a mocha; a cute children's apparel store called Impish where this indulgent momma bought The Peanut the most adorable cotton dress for summer that will be great with leggings as a top as it gets shorter on her; Herrell's ice cream (where I did not get to go because it was too early, but it is beyond awesome ice cream); and my favorite is Cedar Chest which has all sorts of paper products and notebooks, kids items including books and toys, kitchen and gardening goodies, bath products, and all sorts of other goodies -- where I got myself some lovely things including a hand-knit scarf because I'd forgotten mine at home.  (Hello, it is Massachusetts in winter, you dodo.)

I poked around in a couple of other shops downtown, but didn't find anything to hold my interest, so I decided to go up to Smith College and look around a bit. 

After parking on Green Street near my old house -- Hubbard -- I walked across campus to the new Campus Center, which features a cafe on the main floor and houses the college bookstore as well as mailboxes and all sorts of lounge space downstairs.  I poked around the bookstore for a while, picking up a new Smith sweatshirt for me and one for The Peanut as well.  (I wanted a "future Smithie" shirt for her, but they don't carry them at the moment.  Wah!!  Dear marketing people, please stock those again -- we alums will buy them!)

After my bookstore excursion, I took a walk around, taking several photos as I saw things I remembered from my days at Smith.  When I get home, I'll share a few views with you, but uploading them to my teeny laptop is a pain, so you'll have to be patient.  I called Mr. ReddHedd from a bench in front of the library and laughed about how it felt the same as my college days to be on campus, but how my conversations these days were so different -- I talked with a clerk who waited on me at Thornes about how I liked my gray hair that I'm letting grow in, not something that would have come up 20 years ago.  LOL

Then I fed my parking meter to give me a little more time on campus, and I walked up toward the Lyman Greenhouses, stopping briefly at the Boat House for a little nostalgic peek at the dock out back.  I used to bring my books down to read on the dock by Paradise Pond when I lived at Park Annex -- the water would ripple out in front of me and it was just gorgeous to sit there in read on a warmer day, soaking in the sunshine a bit.  To this day, that dock is one of my favorite places on the planet; although today the pond was pretty frozen and cold so I didn't stay too long.

From the boathouse, I walked up to the greenhouse.  It's time for the annual Spring Bulb Show, and it was absolutely glorious in there.  I snapped a number of flower shots that I promise to share when I get back.  The colors and the scents of Spring were just what I needed today.  Absolutely glorious.

For lunch, I selected a little bistro near campus and it turned out to be fantastic.  I had a sandwich of salmon, farmer's cheese, chives, capers and cucumber on a freshly baked baguette, with a side of coleslaw that had the best dressing -- it was a light asian tasting vinaigrette-ish with pickled ginger tasting concoction and I wish I had gotten the recipe for it.  Just superb.  With this, I had a glass of pinot grigio.  And then I had a chocolate croissant with a cafe au lait to top off the meal.  Yummmmmmm!

After eating, I hit the road to come up to Kripalu.  By then, it had begun to rain and I didn't want to leave my drive here for too late in the day.  Good choice, since it rained the entire way and I got lost on the way to the retreat, had to ask directions, and finally got here about 45 minutes later than I expected.  But the drive was absolutely gorgeous:  through the Pleasant Valley area around the college and then up into the Berkshire mountains, past a number of rivers and streams that are running beyond full at the moment, swollen with snow melt and recent rains.  Just an absolutely gorgeous drive to get here -- I'm so glad that I drove instead of flying up here, because I really loved the drive even with the rain and fog.

The resort is lovely, and my room has a fantastic view of the lake near here -- again, there will be pictures, I promise.

I checked in and my room was, miraculously ready, so I dragged my luggage and all my crap up to the room.  (Yet again, I am hereby swearing to pack more lightly, although I never seem to make that happen.  SIGH)  I booked a private room with a bathroom, but they also have dorm-style rooms and rooms where you share a bathroom in the halls, etc., for folks who want to go more cheaply.  I am personally one of those people who likes to have her privacy (mostly because I'm a hermit), so I'm glad this is what I decided to do.

Spent a little time walking around the resort, getting my bearings, and figuring out where the dining room was and where my seminar room will be.  Between walking around Smith campus and all the resort walking?  I have definitely gotten more exercise than I have in a long while, so hopefully I've begun a healthier momentum already and it was only the first day.

After that, dinner turned out to be pretty yummy -- lots of curry, veggies, legumes, and fibrous bits, which means digestion is going to be interesting while I'm here.  We eat whole grains and veggies and such at home, too, but this was seriously healthy levels of fiber.  I had great conversations with several of the ladies at my table, and then headed over to a nearby room for some guided meditation.  Really relaxing, and I enjoyed it a lot -- although I'm wondering how I can fit something like that in at our house with The Peanut, the dogs and every other distraction popping up (kind of the point, though, isn't it?!?).

I finished the day with a nice soak in the tub and some great sleep, and I'm well-rested for day one of the seminar.  I'm going to try and fit in a yoga class, too, so I'll let you know how that goes.

More soon...

More on this here:
- Detour
- Prelude
- After The First Day
- After The Second Day
- After The Third Day
(Photo via fortinbras.)

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