When I was a child, I slept on a cot on a sleeping porch of a Victorian cottage in Lakeside while crickets serenaded me. Rows upon rows of cottages with postage-sized front lawns and comfortable front porches cozied up to the quiet narrow streets. I sunned on the dock that stretches into the Lake, played miniature golf in the afternoons in Central Park, licked ice cream that ran down a cone on a hot day, and paid $.50 to see last season’s movie.
So when I first starting going to Artist’s Way Retreats in Lakeside six years ago, it felt like I was going home. I love to walk the streets. Suncatchers hang in windows, cats sit on steps, wicker furniture adorns porches, and perennial gardens thrive between stoop and street. I admire the variety of cottages, from showboat-shaped homes with gingerbread trim to painted ladies three stories high to miniature-sized bungalows with window boxes.
Three blocks up Walnut from Lake Erie is the Idlewyld Bed and Breakfast, a large rambling vintage inn of 14 rooms. Its wraparound porch with hickory rockers surrounded by lush gardens looks like the perfect place to unwind. It is. Entering the house is a step back in time to an era of charm and simplicity where one can be authentic and true while mingling in the gathering room or sitting on the upstairs porch where I feel like I’m in the big tree. Hosts Dan and Joan Barris serve an English sideboard breakfast amid cottage décor.
For ten years, women have gathered at the Idlewyld for a tour of the community followed by dinner and a creative opening activity like creating a collage that tells the story of a life. The next two days were filled with breakout sessions to explore journaling, storytelling, photography, reiki, or yoga to inspire and give us a sense of possibility. We were entertained by a comedian or a drum circle on Saturday night, and Sunday was the winding down, a time to stand on the pier for reflection and hugs.
The Artist’s Way Retreat refuels our fires. This year we will again be inspired and reconnect at the Sharing Our Gifts retreat. I’m already looking forward to it.