Back from Squam

I attended last week/end’s Squam Art Workshops up in New Hampshire, and I’ve been trying to process it all this week.  It was just beautiful, in every way.  I was very focused on the workshop aspect of it beforehand, but what happened around the workshops was just as valuable and healing, and taught me more about living life.

I spent the first couple of days with a breaking heart, hoping against hope to see my Mom peeking out from around a corner, or from behind another knitter.  Rocklywold Deephaven Camp is just such a Her kind of place, and she would have been so delighted by all the workshop folks who were there.  Not to mention that the natural surroundings are within about an hour of where I was born and spent the first 9 years of my life or so.

New Hampshire is magical in the summer, in a very Fae kind of way.  The natural beauty dazzles, and the insects are truly impressive in their voracity.  And yes, I ate the faery food.  It was delicious.

After the first couple of days, I began to feel a strong connection and camaraderie with my cabinmates, and one evening’s entertainment related the bittersweet joy, sadness, growth, and humor of one woman’s experience with losing her own mother.  It was cathartic, it ripped out that painful little ball I keep shoved down inside, and it forced me to notice that other people hurt too.  Losing a person with whom you shared an uncanny connection happens to other people, and I hadn’t realized just how inconsolable I had been feeling for all this time.  And that’s OK, but the last thing my Mom would want me to be is miserable.

The following days I dwelled on her absence less, and enjoyed myself in the moment more.  I found that cliche, my happy place, in a very real way.  I learned about geometry and the rhythms of designing interesting patterns, other creative women shared wine with me, I communed with the lake and the sun.

I learned how to sew French seams, and an invisible zipper, and made friends everywhere I went.  I talked to strangers and tried new foods.  I had dessert at least once each day.  I was gentle with myself and listened to others’ stories and giggled and smiled and cried.  I dipped my toes in the cold, cold water, so recently snow or ice on the mountains.

I marveled at the beauty of the Luna moths that seemed to be everywhere, and at the tiny faery cities in the moss and lichen on stones and stumps.

I wore ridiculous outfits and accepted compliments graciously.  I gave compliments liberally.  I gave away a hat I made to my roommate, because I like her, and she lives in Boston, and OMG her head is going to be cold and I don’t want that.

I met the Yarn Harlot, mostly because I wouldn’t shut up about her and how I don’t do well meeting people I admire, and my roommate finally dragged her over to meet me, and we had a fun conversation where I didn’t refer to myself nervously as “we” a single time, and she showed me how to knit right from the stack of dyed silk cocoons I had just purchased.



4 Responses to “Back from Squam”

  • elizabeth Says:

    oh Jessi, I am so full of admiration for your grace, your gentle observations, your ability to find beauty while holding a grieving heart. I feel honored to read this glimpse of your story and can feel how blessed you were to have a mother of such goodness and light– thank you so much for sharing this— hope your reentry to home is a soft landing. xoxo, e

  • Christina Says:

    I’m so glad that you found some healing in the woods at Squam. This was my second year there, and I find something so healing up there around that lake. I wish I could bottle it and take it home for me when I need it.

    I loved how your skirt came out in Cal’s class. It looked wonderful!

  • Kate Says:

    Jessi- this post is beautiful; I am so glad to have met you at SAW and to now call you my friend. You are talented and wonderful (and I still want your skirt!)

  • Jennnanigans Says:

    What a beautiful time you had! I wish I could have gone with you and experienced this firsthand. I’m so glad you had such a great time, and it was such a healing experience for you. The pictures are beautiful, and the people look really fun and creative. Miss you, love you! :D

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