I am rarely at a loss for words. I’m an avid writer of blog posts, and an even more able chatterer (unless the context is public speaking…then all bets are off). Words are my thing. I usually choose them carefully and aim them true, but here I sit finding it difficult to find the right ones to convey everything I experienced at the Squam Art Workshops last week. The last time I was this verbally lost over an experience I had taken my oldest son and fellow Thoreauvian, then 17, to Walden Pond. The blog post that followed that trip was called, “Speechless…for a change.”
For months prior to teaching at Squam I had been contemplating what my proper direction in this craft really should be. Like all big decisions, the answer was right there all along. You know how this feels. The answers are located right in the center of your being, it feels almost like they’re sitting at the center of your body, and therefore the old turn of phrase “gut feeling” applies. We treat these gut feelings like heartburn or hangovers. We ignore them when we’re very busy doing whatever it is we think we should be, or when they don’t seem convenient.
But at Squam, you’re living in that space where the answers are, and the pressing and influencing expectations of others, or even of yourself, fall away. You are encouraged to be in the present moment, to be attentive to process, not product, and to shelve your preconceptions and let the retreat unfold for you as it will. As it is said at Squam, this is where the magic happens.
Squam feels magical, but I would be remiss if I did not say this: the magic is made in part by the vision and hard work of Director Elizabeth Duvivier, her assistant Forrest Elliott, and every single person who helps her, including the staff at Rockywold Deephaven Camps on Squam Lake. While I am a true believer in the manifestation of dreams, I believe equally that none of that manifestation takes place without the hard work behind the dream. Elizabeth and everyone involved do that hard and heartfelt work, and to them I am so grateful.
Of course, I went to Squam to teach rug hooking at the beginner level. I owe this to Elizabeth’s generosity in inviting me, on taking a chance on someone and something completely new to Squam, because my friend, poet Sarah Sousa, called my work to her attention last year. As I was explaining to my own teacher and mentor yesterday, I learned so much from my students that I am still processing it all. At Squam, students are uncommonly open, adventurous, and filled with energy. They are also collaborative and incredibly kind. I’m not sure there is another teaching experience quite like this. There are those that are as good, but Squam brings together artists and artisans with a unique kind of creativity and camaraderie, and to teach them is really an honor. I hope I lived up to it.
I want to apologize for not getting pics of my first of two classes. To my students in that first class, you are every bit as dear to me as those in the second! I was simply very focused on running that first class for the first time and did not break out the camera.
Here are my amazing and beautiful students from the second session. Every student I had, from both classes, picked up this craft in a heartbeat and immediately started making it her own. Some had stories to tell of how their fore mothers had practiced rug hooking, and of the hooked pieces that had been handed down. Since part of our mission is to keep this heritage craft alive and thriving in to the next centuries, it was so rewarding to see the enthusiasm and creativity at work in these wonderful women.
Why did I choose a dock and dragonfly for the prototype design? Well, this is Squam lake, our venue…
Having grown up summering on Little Sebago Lake in Gray, Maine (see a previous post on this here), I really feel at home and in my element in this kind of environment. It centers me in a way no other space can, and this contributed to the magic I felt at Squam.
Also contributing to the magic? Great lodging and great food. I shared our cottage, aptly named “Bungalow,” with Sarah Sousa. We had a great time catching up, having not seen one another in person in almost two years.
And then, of course, there was yarn bombing. Lots and lots of yarn bombing.
And the chalkboards…every day at the dining hall…
The Squam Art Fair and Ravelry Revelry, held on the last evening of the retreat, is a hand made paradise. The amount of talent and creativity in that one room is humbling. It is open to the public, and I highly recommend you visit it – and shop! – whenever it is held. I did not get many pictures of the fair because I was a participant with a table, however, there are many pics out there on the net.
I went to Squam not knowing exactly what to expect. I was a bit nervous about teaching for the first time there. Would I be good enough? Would my class be engaging enough? After all, this was a very accomplished group of students who had already worked with some very well known teachers. Would I be enough? What I discovered was two-fold. On the one hand, I was enough. I received the sweetest feedback on my class from my students, and I want to reach through the screen and hug every one of you. On the other hand, I have so much to learn and so many directions in which to grow. I was enough, but I can be so much more. This is one of the primary lessons of Squam. We are enough. Right here and right now, in this moment, we are enough. And yet, we are filled with potential at every point in our lives to do more and be more and catch our dearest dreams.
In the midst of these lessons, I gained clarity. Questions offered up for weeks and months were answered resoundingly in the affirmative, and that’s a gift. I do not believe my experience is unique. I think this was happening all around me, in the lives of my fellow “Squammies.” If we give ourselves the space and the freedom, the answers come.
The little fairy village below was on the wooded path between the dining hall and my classroom. Literally and figuratively, love and spirit can be found along the paths at Squam. Hope to see you there next year. In the meantime, happy living and happy hooking. – Beth