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by Leah Lax

Upstairs my desk faces a broad window that looks out over the Oregon coast just north of Tillamook, where two silhouettes are strolling the wet beach that looks like a mirror and a wag-tailed dog is running around them, into the foaming surf and back again. Six of us Hedgebrook alums have created our own little writing retreat in the Oregon Writers’ Colony Colonyhouse in Rockaway Beach, Oregon. We sleep each night with the steady low ocean roar as backdrop to our dreams.

Since Hedgebrook is our bond, because of Hedgebrook, here are our guidelines:

o We talk as little as possible through the day to better hear that inner narrative.
o We work where it only takes a few paces to glimpse another writer.
o We stop and walk outside to soak in natural beauty at least once a day, with the understanding that this is an important part of writing. We walk with each other. We walk alone.
o We take turns cooking, because we know that clean simple good food prepared with the purpose of nurturing our writing is incredibly important. And doubly delicious.

So we feel free to nod and not answer if the brain wheels are turning. We walk on the beach at all hours. We cook with loving attention. Hedgebrook taught us these things.

One morning before sunup, three of us clustered at the kitchen window as the full moon traced a brilliant narrow path of light on the water that ran straight to the shore, toward us, as if the moon had become a low hanging spotlight trained on an empty ocean stage. It seemed we could run down to the beach and run that light path across the water straight up to her. Jen threw on her boots and strode out there, it was cold and dark, to catch that sparkling path and I wondered if I didn’t need to go, too, run after her and catch her arm from behind to hold her back. But I didn’t. Another day, we walked the beach through the gradations and rolling whiteness of a steady fog that muffled the crunch of our boots on sand so that we were almost unsure if our feet were really on land. Behind our house and across the road there’s a lake, and that same evening, the fog over the lake completely blurred the line between sky and water so that the birds sitting on the water seemed to be sitting suspended in air.

Over these weeks together, specific images we’ve all seen here are seeping into our writing. I imagine some scholar someday figuring out that there are a few unique images common to the work of six totally disparate writers. A lone silhouette running a path of light across night water. A silent bonded group walking through clouds. Sitting birds suspended in the air. I imagine her digging to trace the source, crack the code. The real answer will be Hedgebrook.


Rockaway Writers' RetreatLeah Lax has been twice to Hedgebrook and deems  it life-changing. She lives, writes, and teaches in Houston.






Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members. 

Leah Lax
About Leah Lax


  • Leah Lax
    1:10 PM - 3 April, 2014

    In the picture above are alum (left to right):
    Jen Marlowe, Elise Winn, Naomi Williams, and Leah Lax. Not pictured (but they were part of our retreat): Shimul Rahim and Margarita Donnelly.

  • Angie Chau
    3:45 PM - 3 April, 2014

    Thank you for sharing. You’ve inspired me. I too am grateful for the life changing experience that is Hedgebrook.

    Warm regards,
    Angie Chau

  • Traci Barela
    5:16 PM - 3 April, 2014

    Thank you. Yes, and again a resounding yes. The Hedgebrook sisterhood.

  • Tessa Floreano
    8:44 AM - 5 April, 2014

    Great post, Leah. Everyone in our writing group can relate to what you wrote about your time together at the house on Rockaway as well as Hedgebrook. We, too, are Hedgebrook alums and have bonded in a big way after our experience there. We hope to gather again somewhere for another retreat and the colony house is a possibility for us.

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