|After yesterday's walk|
I am here at Hedgebrook with five other women residents, and we are mixed in age, in nationality and in race. We are both straight and lesbian. We each have our own enchanted cottage, not far from one another but far enough to sit undisturbed to do our individual work. Every evening, promptly at 5:30 we walk down a forest path with baskets and meet in the farmhouse for dinner, cooked for us right there with vegetables and flowers and fruit from the garden. We help ourselves from bowls and platters, arrayed on the same butcher block where the chef has prepared them, and then we sit down to eat at a long pine table with a view of Useless Bay. Yes, Useless Bay -- a name worthy of a post far longer than these that I will be writing for the next three weeks. The food is remarkable, simple and full of flavor. The chef sits with us and eats, too. I believe there are three of them who rotate through, all women who cater to and nourish us yet have a place at the woman table. At the end of the meal, the chef clears the table and begins to clean the kitchen while we pack our baskets with snacks, coffee, breakfast for the next morning. We spoon homemade granola out of jars, yogurt out of tubs, and coffee into little bags. We take fresh raspberries from the garden, so sweet and ripe that they disintegrate into syrup, almost, by the next day. There are snacks in jars along shelves -- peanut butter and pretzels, nuts and dried fruit, salty Asian crackers, seaweed and chocolate-covered mangos. Our lunch for the following day is neatly packed into a tupperware container -- a slice of quiche or a frittata, a chickpea salad, mixed lettuces and fruit. When our baskets are full we say good-bye to one another and walk back through the forest to our cottages where, I imagine, we all bow our heads in one way or another to the grace of this place and to our work.