Andromeda: Tutka Bay, Dani Shapiro, and watching spring arrive

A treat this morning: I gave myself some online blog-reading time to get to know Dani Shapiro, the memoirist and novelist who is leading our Sept 2-5 Tutka Bay writers’ retreat. A friend from Denver, Judith, introduced me to this blog (and to Dani’s writings in general) some time ago, but I hadn’t read Dani’s blogposts lately, including musings about “On Writing for the Right Reasons,” writing as “Noble Failure”, and “On Being Self-Protective”, which includes this wonderful quote:

The only hope I have of writing something good is to protect my inner life, to coddle it, to treat it like the sensitive instrument it is. A violinist cares for her violin. A singer babies her voice. A sculptor finds just the right quarry. As writers, the difference is that our own selves–our internal landscapes–are our instrument. And so we must protect ourselves from that which throws us off course.

That passage spoke to me because of some health problems I’ve been dealing with, especially for the last three months. About two weeks ago, coping with some chronic low-grade pain issues as well as the stress of multiple and increasingly unsatisfactory medical appointments, I made myself a promise: that I’d get outside for a walk or a run every single day in April. I expected the exercise to help get my blood pumping (without which the pain relief meds never kick in adequately), but what struck me after about day three was that just being outside to witness the coming of spring helped most of all.

I came to Alaska as a fairly dedicated outdoorswoman, and in recent years have spent more and more time inside, in front of a screen, or in my car on endless chauffering rounds, racing between errands. This April, I told myself, I would actually see the snow melt, watch the creeks rise, see the grass turn green, smell the opening buds. And for the last two weeks, I have. There is much more I need to do in order to “protect my inner life,” but it’s a start.

Those thoughts led me back to looking at picures of Tutka Bay from our retreat last year, and remembering what a beautiful and nurturing world that was –and is. If you’re thinking of joining the fall retreat, you should know that we have early-bird member rates ($100 off) before May 1. All the details here. A limited number of spots (five at last count) remain. Whatever your spring and summer plans are, I hope you find some places of beauty and quiet, as well as opportunities for reading and writing, learning and sharing.

3 thoughts on “Andromeda: Tutka Bay, Dani Shapiro, and watching spring arrive”

  1. Andromeda:
    Retreat sounds great and I might be able to swing it. Two questions first:
    Will there be vegetarian/vegan meal choices?
    Any trails/areas to run?
    Dumb questions when thinking of a writing retreat, perhaps, but both kinda matter if I'm gonna plop down hard-earned cash.
    Cheers and hope you are well, (hooray for you for getting out and walking/running!)

  2. P.S. LOVE Dani Shapiro. "Slow Motion" was one of the best memoirs I've read. Truly!

  3. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    While there aren't any listed vegan options per se, last year, when we arrived, Kirsten Dixon and her gourmet crew were kind enough to ask people if they had any dietary requirements. I'm sure you could put in a request farther ahead of time to help ensure more options. If you have more questions, let's email about this and make sure Deb is aware we have vegan interest (if you decide to register).

    As for runnning, there certainly are some hiking trails that could be run, as long as you make enough noises to alert the wildlife. There is also massage, short kayak trips, and more.

    The lodge website is

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