Years ago, my Poet Sisters and I made our first Poet Sisters Retreat. The four of us had met the previous year during a poetry workshop and immediately connected. Over the course of the following year we continued the workshop on our own by emailing poems to each other for critique. Then the idea to gather once again, just the four of us, for a weekend to catch up and to write was born. But where?
Two of us lived in North Carolina, but at opposite ends of the state; one of us lived in South Carolina; one of us in Tennessee. I think Dee was the one who found the Inn on Mill Creek, in Old Fort, North Carolina. It was perfect for our gathering, and a perfect spot to get away with Hubby this past weekend.
The Inn is a quaint, rustic home of stone and wood, set on the edge of the Pisgah National Forest. From the Solarium where you enter, through the Great Room with its vaulted ceiling and three walls of windows, to finally the room where you lay your head, the Inn on Mill Creek is cozy and homey, and you immediately feel a connection to the bounty of nature surrounding you. It’s Innkeeper Brigette’s touch and attention to detail that makes your stay comfortable and relaxing. I don’t have pictures of the house itself–I’ve posted a link with professional photos for those–because I tend to spend most of my time outside.
The ‘Driveway Garden’ was our view – though a different angle from the solarium – each morning during breakfast this past weekend. We watched up to 10 hummingbirds dive bomb each other as they protected their spot for breakfast; and a variety of colorful birds flitted on and off the bird feeders in turn. (By the way, breakfasts for the humans, prepared by Innkeeper Dave, are delicious. An egg frittata one morning, pumpkin waffles the next were the main items, but the sweet sides were not simple additions!) A family of 5 squirrels romped in the grass and picked up bits of waffle or toast left for the crows, but they got to them first. A slower pace was happening in the flower boxes just outside the windows – a spider meticulously worked her way from flower to leaf while bees landed on the flowers’ centers.
A slower pace is a welcome gift from the Inn. This is where we Poet Sisters spent much of our time working. The deck sits right on the bank of the creek, with a view of the rhododendron in the woods across the way, and the wetlands practically at your feet. It’s one of my favorite spots to read, write, and work on crossword puzzles . . . and listen to the creek, the birds, and the bullfrogs.
The boardwalk is a new addition to the wetlands since the Poet Sisters were there. It winds through with different secluded dead-ends, complete with benches or tables and chairs. Dave said this is where the hummingbirds nest. All we saw on our walk were butterflies, dragon flies and other assorted winged creatures – not a disappointment that we didn’t spy the hummingbirds.
You can still see the shadow markings of the labyrinth on the property. The Poet Sisters each took a turn and wrote about their experience. Brigette says they dig it out every year because the grass just overtakes it. But it was still defined enough this weekend to take a meditative walk.
Dave and Brigette are strong supporters of local artists, and Dave helped cast this large bell with one, Sam Owen. The bell is placed along the boardwalk and eventually will be accessible to those who want to ring it. I can’t wait to pull back the mallet and let it swing, hear what the bell sounds like, and listen to its peal echo into the mountains.
Here is another example of Sam Owen’s work. It arches over a path beginning at the deck and ending at the labyrinth. There is a picture on the Inn’s blog of Sam and Dave plotting out the placement of the sculpture.
Other art work – stained glass, water color, acrylic, etc. – is showcased throughout the house and gardens and most depict the mountains and forests of the area.
The Inn on Mill Creek is just minutes off I-40, close to Old Fort, Asheville, Black Mountain, and other interesting places to visit, so day trips are quick and easy. Hubby and I climbed to Catawba Falls in Old Fort and it’s well worth the hike to see them.
But with the beautiful, restful grounds of the Inn, don’t feel guilty if you just want to stay put. Sometimes what your body, mind, and soul need is simply to retreat.