An Adventure

Monday Morning Musings:

“‘I could tell you my adventures—beginning from this morning,’ said Alice a little timidly: ‘but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.’”

–Lewis Carroll, “The Lobster Quadrille,” Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


I’ve been on an adventure since last Wednesday. Just so you’re clear, it’s a Merril Adventure, so it doesn’t involve car chases, hot air balloons, or ski slopes; no danger involving avalanches or volcanic eruptions. I’ve not been caught in a coup, nor been accused of spying. I’ve not encountered a single lion, tiger, or bear. However, I have seen ponies. (I’ll just pause here for you to say, “awwww.”)


It’s an adventure involving women, friendship, and writing. In fact, I’m on a writers’ retreat. It’s not an “official” retreat, that is, it’s not sponsored by a group or organization. That also means there is no pressure. I haven’t spent the last few days hiding away or feeling anxious. Instead, I’ve formed new friendships while learning about writing memoir, fine-tuning passages, and formatting blog posts. We’ve done critiques, but we’ve also eaten great food, drunk wine, shared memories and expertise, laughed, and explored the lovely Chincoteague/Assateague area—apparently the area is a magnetic center that brings people, as well as birds, from all over.


Janet Givens  instigated this writers’ gathering, offering her lovely vacation home to almost total strangers. Susan Weidener  kindly offered to drive Marian Beaman and me from Pennsylvania. I admit, I was apprehensive about spending a week with women I’ve never met, but it has been a wonderful several days—and I now have new friends!

It’s possible I may have baked and brought my Mandelbrot (aka “Mommy Cookies”) along—because how could I go a week without chocolate goodies? Susan brought chocolate, too—so one crisis was averted. Sigh of relief. Can you imagine me going a day, much less a week without chocolate?

IMG_3619 4

Just a few left.


Our group expanded during the week at Janet’s. Kathy Pooler 

joined our circle from afar. Isn’t modern technology wonderful?

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We were joined—in person–by Mary Gottschalk and Carol Bodensteiner  on Saturday night. Apparently on our blogs, both Mary and I are taller. Who knew blogs had such power? On Saturday night, the six of us gathered together at Janet’s, enjoyed stinky cheese (brought from Vermont), wine, and dinner—along with talk of writing and life. I’ve been among truly brilliant and interesting women who have fascinating tales to share and knowledge to impart.


Although I’ve missed my husband and cats, it’s been a fabulous several days.

Please do click on the links to meet these women. Perhaps you may also want to buy their books. (You know you want to.)

In addition to walking and talking, listening, and eating, I did do a bit of writing. Here is an echo poem I wrote during this past week–while the weather was beautiful and warm.


Chincoteague Island, March 2016

Four women gathered together.


Well, it couldn’t be better.


off and writing going


growing with critique.


forms arrested,


by practice and time.


words, write, repeat,


but now it’s time to eat.


Laughter from we four


gazing and walking

talking of Peace Corps,


Four women together




“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Essay XII,” Art

Have you ever been on a writers’ retreat?  Please share your experiences.





29 thoughts on “An Adventure

  1. Perfecto! You show how the static images of our writer friends in the blog world have become three-dimensional. What a lovely, steadying influence you were to the group dynamics this week. I’ll never be the same either.

    Thank you for encapsulating the week so beautifully! 🙂

  2. So sorry to miss this group — and mostly — to miss the opportunity of meeting you in person, Merril. I know that would have been a rich and wonderful week and love reading about it.

    I laughed out loud when you said that apparently you and Mary are taller online. I too expected both of you were taller. Shows how a skill with words makes you loom large in our imaginations. However, I like you “just the way you are.” Thanks for your pictures also.

  3. What fun! There is nothing like getting together with a group of writerly like-minds.I remember sitting on a stool in a restaurant lounge. A fine looking man sen t me over a drink, and of course, I went over to thank him after my meal. WE had been eyeballing each other over dinner, and when I walked over to him I could see the disappointment in his face. “His first words were, “You looked a lot taller from across the room.” Men…blah!

  4. You were not far from where I live. Isn’t Assateague beautiful? It sounds like such a wonderful retreat. I have never been on a writer’s retreat, but it’s something I would like to do someday.

    Wonderful poem. I love the last two lines/words. 🙂

    • Yes, I suppose they are. Do they round up the New Forest ponies? I’ve been told though these ponies are wild, they are periodically rounded up and given shots, and then in the summer they have them swim from Assateague to Chincoteague, and they auction the foals.

      • The New Forest ponies are all owned by commoners who have the right to let them roam free. There is no specific round up, but some owners may bring them in during particularly severe winters

  5. Usually I find with a writer’s retreat it’s the writers that retreat from me. I might have been OK this time though with the wine flowing and the chocolate being chomped and looking so much taller online to such a bevy of beauties.
    I’m glad you all had such a delightful time.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  6. So that’s where you were (as I remember a comment that you weren’t home). Cheers to your good time, helpful information, and bonding. i haven’t attended a writers gathering like this before. Heck, I’ve only met two other bloggers.

    • Thank you, Frank. I don’t normally announce to the world that I’m not home, but my husband was still here. I’d never met any of these women before. It was such a great experience, and I do feel like I have a group of new friends. I’m home now with a cat sleeping on my lap.

  7. Merril, You beautifully captured our time together . . . how true we are different today than we were from yesterday, especially when we take a risk and make new friends along the “writing road.” Memories of our retreat linger and inspire me. Thank you.

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