Two days ago I returned from a week in Florida, during which I spent time with good friends and attended an artists' retreat hosted by the Gainesville Chapter 113 of the Colored Pencil Society of America.
I laughed -- sometimes so hard my stomach hurt. I cried. I danced (though not very well, despite the best efforts of those who actually know how to line dance). I visited the Salvador Dali Museum -- fascinating, to say the least. I learned how to make bruschetta. and ate sushi, eel, and seaweed salad for the first time. (I will skip the seaweed salad next time.) I even occasionally adopted a southern accent as a result of spending several days in the presence of the charming drawl of artist Jeffrey Smart Baisden -- so much so that upon my return my son asked, "Why are you talking like that???"
The retreat itself was held at Dayspring, an Episcopal camp and conference center in Ellenton, Florida. Approximately twenty-five artists attended the four day event and though most were residents of Florida, there were several of us from Michigan, California, and Washington state as well. Attendees literally ate, slept, and made art..............and talked, talked, talked. The Gainesville Chapter members themselves are a wonderful group of artists who truly knew how to make this out-of-stater feel welcome. I so appreciated the tremendous hospitality shown to me, and the Ellenton retreat is definitely something I will try to attend in the future.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not thank Jeffrey for the kindness and hospitality she showed me in her home the three days prior to the retreat. Her amazing sense of humour and genuine way-of-being were good medicine for the soul of this "little girl from Michigan". (Thanks Jeff)