This past weekend, I returned home from a getaway that I would put on my list of top-10 getaways of all time. Where did I go? Squam Art Workshop, Rockywold-Deephaven Camps, Holderness, New Hampshire. You know how we all tend to exaggerate at times and embellish stories of fun things we did? I’ve heard so many good things about Squam in the last four years and while I never doubted it was a great place/experience, I was always a bit skeptical that it truly was as “all that” as everyone made it out to be. I wanted to see for myself, and I was fortunate enough to finally have the chance to see for myself and while everyone’s experience is relative, for me it really was “all that.”
I’ve seen many beautiful places in my lifetime, and while the shores and surrounding forests of Squam Lake are incredibly lush and beautiful, the word that keeps coming to my mind when I want to attempt to describe this place to others is simply “enchanting.” A part of this mystique, for me, came from the incredible amount and variety of mushrooms that line the paths through the woods. I don’t know if they held special powers of some sort or not, but I found myself fascinated by them.
I stayed in a cabin named Birdsall and made great friends with my cabin mates, DeeDee, Wendy and Bonnie. Our cabin was on the lake and we even enjoyed out own dock. I was in awe at how clear the water was (keep in mind, the main water source where I live is a series of canals and they aren’t exactly what you’d want to swim in or call pristine) and the sunrises each morning over the water were incredible. It did get very cold at night and I’m half-surprised I survived. But I did, and I’d be willing to suffer through the cold again to go back and repeat my experience.
I took three classes and I’m going to share more about each one in-depth with you in three separate posts in the near future. The first day (Thursday) I had The Joy of Intention with Alena Hennessy, the second day (Friday) I had Crisp with Hélène Dujardin and the last day (Saturday) I had Hand Lettering with Penelope Dullaghan. I learned something of value in each class, but truthfully, I enjoyed the company of my classmates as much as I enjoyed what I learned. And the dining hall food was awesome! As you might know, I’m a foodie, so I was thrilled to be able to enjoy my eating experience as much as the rest of the event. There were always vegetarian options and the vegetables were never overcooked. Two items that I was especially fond of were a pumpkin soup and a corn chowder. On Saturday evening there was a vendor event (those are always fun!) and I really enjoyed the warm ambiance and pretty things to look at.
I attend many art retreats, and one thing I love about most of them is that they are usually reunions because I get to see so many of the same friends each time. So one thing that was really different for me at Squam—different, but very cool—was that I barely knew anyone so I made so many new friends and felt genuine connections with them. The types of connections that you want to extend into your life after you return home from an event. There was a great loving energy throughout the entire event from the walking paths, to the dining hall, to the classes, to the intimacy of the cabins; I just felt really warm and accepted everywhere. I’m an introvert, so I don’t always experience that at such a high level. That’s not to say there isn’t great energy at all art retreats—there is. But for some weird reason, it was a special brand of energy there. Maybe I’ve become so familiar with some of the other retreats that I take the goodness for granted and I noticed it more this time because I came at it more as an outsider. But I left feeling like a “Squammie,” as much a part of the group as those who’ve attended each session. I want to back. I hope I do.