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by Hedgebrook Guest

14 years later, on a teasingly sunny newly spring day, sitting at a desk in Hedgebrook’s office, I’m remembering my first trip out to Hedgebrook. I remember the feeling traveling over here from Seattle, where I was then the Literary Manager/Dramaturg at ACT Theatre. We were partnering with Hedgebrook on producing the first annual (then called) ACT/Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival, which, in two weeks, will now be in its 14th year. I remember then my curiosity, excitement, anticipation…venturing into the unknown that was Hedgebrook.

14 years later, on this teasingly sunny day, I remember boarding the ferry, and feeling an energy shift midway out on the water as the ferry approached Whidbey Island. A calmness set in, a peacefulness, a pause. I remember approaching the farm, riding through Hedgebrook’s welcoming gates, and feeling the energy around me—the quiet and peace, yes, combined with the spirit of all the generous work and gifts left here from hundreds of women residents before me.

14 years later, on this teasingly sunny day, I remember the face of one of the playwrights who, after an amazing dinner of food prepared from the garden, rose to take her plate to the sink, and was told by the chef, “Sit down, you are here to be a writer. Let us take care of that.” The writer’s face froze in mid-reaction, mouth open, eyes beginning to well up with tears. That image remains with me: a poignant example of what it means for a woman to be given the gift of nurturance, space and time.     

14 years later, on this teasingly sunny day, I am so grateful to be back working here, to be able to arrive every day at a place that gives this gift to women on a continual basis. Whether it’s a rainy gray day, and the women are burrowed inside their cottages, stoking their wood-burning stoves and firing up their imaginations, or a bright day such as today, where writers crawl out of the cottages for their doses of Vitamin D, I can feel the magic of this place. It has a spirit of its own.

Be careful what you wish for. Last May, I came yet again to be in residence as a dramaturg for the Women Playwrights Festival. At this time, I was ready to make a change, ready to leave the snowy winters of Minneapolis where I’d been living for six plus years, ready for my own spring. I’d been “auditioning” cities to which to move, and several had made it to callbacks. But once again, perching on the window-ledge of my cottage, sitting on the sofa ledge of the Farmhouse, sharing in the late evening thoughts and laughter and work with my peers, I thought, “This is home.” Jokingly, though in every joke there is a kernel of truth, I said to Vito and Amy, “If you ever need help, need another person, create another job…”

14 years later, on this teasingly sunny day, I get to experience Hedgebrook as not just a place, but as an idea. It’s synonymous with community, conversation… and good food. Really, really good food. In the past 5 months, I have been getting to know many of the 1,200 other Hedgebrook alumnae, joining them in bringing what we all love about Hedgebrook’s energy and spirit back into the world. I’m working with the Alumnae Leadership Council, represented by powerhouse alumnae in New York City, LA, the Bay Area, and the Pacific Northwest, to plan professional development workshops, house parties, panels, brunches, readings and more, to keep the conversations, connections, and energy that was formed at Hedgebrook around the farmhouse table alive and vital in the community-at-large.

14 years later, on this teasingly sunny day, as the new Alumnae Relations Coordinator, I tap my heels together 3 times, and I’m reminded of what I felt then, as I feel now: There’s no place like Hedgebrook.

Hedgebrook Guest
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