This weekend my writer's group, the Scribblers, went on one of our bi-annual writer's retreats to one of the Gulf Islands. This time ten members went, 3 men and 7 women. We always go to the same lodgings and get the same two units where we party in one, dine in the other (and sleep, of course). We spend the weekend hiking, doing writing exercises and enjoying each other's company. There's always a theme, and this time it was "Romantic Springtime". This includes appropriate costumes which we dress up in for the Saturday dinner. The dinner, prepared by two of the members, is usually a gourmet affair.
This time it was salmon done in a delicious mustard sauce, rice and asparagus. Served with good French wine. As it was one member's birthday the previous week, we had ice-cream 'cake' dessert topped with birthday candles.
We arrived at the lodge Friday night after a relaxing ferry trip from the mainland. To get us in the mood, we sat around recounting 'romantic' tales. We were laughing so much that the manager came over and asked us to pipe down! Afterwards some of us went for a midnight stroll, up the pitch dark road to the beach. The sky was brilliant with stars, and our Suzaki, who is an astrology expert, was showing us the various stars, planets and constellations, when a bright meteorite shot across the sky with a long, long silver tail. Quite an awesome sight. Earlier in the day, on the ferry ride, we'd spotted to circling eagles. All these good omens portended another excellent weekend (which it was!). Down on the beach, there was phosphorous sparkling like tiny stars in the water. Far out from shore, we could hear the growls of the sea lions who perch on the reef. Our Dora loves to call them and the funny part is they always reply. Aaarrrffff....Aaarrrffff...It's quite hilarious!
Saturday some of us hiked out to the Point and spotted herons, various water fowl and a playful little otter out fishing for his lunch. Of course, being an otter, he had to show off for us.
That evening was our 'dress up' and dinner night. Such romantic costumes! (Except the men who didn't participate so we have threatened to dress them up ourselves next time!) Suzaki and Di prepared our delicious gourmet meal. Afterwards we sat around the fire to read romantic poetry, and listen to romantic music. It was such an elegant evening!
Sunday we always hike to the Circle Tree, in an arbutus grove up on the mountain-side. The tree has grown into a circle where you can sit. So we always have a group picture taken there.
Suzaki climbs one of the arbutus trees and collects leaves that have been marked by some kind of insect. From the patterns on the leaves she reads our fortunes. Then, we all write little messages about our visit which are placed into a plastic film cannister and hidden inside a hollow space in a stump. We have quite a collection of these messages going back to the early days of the retreats some years ago. They are like mini time-capsules. We tote wine up to the grove and lift our glasses in a toast to the Forest Spirits, and especially to the Muse, then splash the dregs in their honour. It's a traditional ritual of ours and quite special!
In the afternoon, while we waited to leave for the Inn where Allan always buys the group dinner, we read the magical realism stories we had written over the weekend. That was quite a hit with the group as it was something we'd never done before. Dee won the quiz prize on Friday night and also the Magical realism story prize. And that was special too, because she came all the way from Victoria for the retreat and is a long-time member from when we first started our writer's group over 10 years ago.
Then we traipsed off to the Mayne Island Inn for our special dinner treat. Such a happy group of friends and another special weekend on our favourite island!