Writing Retreat! Nature Image: Seeing the Wild Words

Over the weekend of July 8-10th, Rick led a writing retreat for three fabulous writers, artists, and poets at our home and sanctuary, Little Renaissance, in Ocean Shores, WA.  This fabulous group graced our home! They were inspired by Rick’s guidance, yoga (sessions led by me),  dazzling sunshine, fresh ocean air, the untamed beauty of this coastal paradise, and each others’ company. Included here are the beautiful writings produced over the Nature Image Writing Retreat weekend.  Also included are two visual art pieces  Juliette Aristedes created while she was here!  Slide show to follow in a second blog.

Poems by Jane Faulkner

Sea song  

Sun-stripped pilings march to sea

Mast-like stands of sacred three

Pier planks gone

No sailor’s song

Do they still call out to thee?

Pilings and Sea


Captive in crusted, crinoline sand

this once sleek feather darted and soared.

Now with tired tendrils of cream and dusk

it is an offering.

Wrapped with strands of sea grass ribbon

on a bed of smooth black stones,

the seabird’s discard

brings me to my knees—

a perfect still life celebrated

by the crying gulls above.

Feather on Sand


vast blue summer sky

a lone black plane

hovering high above

a hundred white wings

singing to the sea


clouds drift across sand

sky and earth come together

lovers on the beach

sandpipers at the shore

peck muddy sand and find

a tasty mid-day feast

Poems by Douglas Schuder

Near and Far at Ocean Shores

Here at the vast Pacific’s edge

Nothing halts the heaving sea’s westward course

Until it breaks on distant island shores—

A thing well-known to mariners and whales.

So the ever-restless eye

Unable to see beyond the bend

Where sky descends to meet the sea

Settles on things ephemeral and small,

A scattering of sand fleas at the feet

Where minute stars of silica

Gleam out from sandy nebulae.

A frothy filament of white foam,

Leading edge of the spent wave

Attenuated thin, glides smoothly up the strand

And at first instant of retreat

Vanishes in seltzers of clear bubbles.

An unbleached scallop shell,

Its rippled halves still joined,

Lies spread-eagled in sand

Like a butterfly of bronze-hued wings

Opened to a warming sun.

Up and down the long shoreline concavity

Flocks of diminutive sandpipers

Wheel in tightest turns, time after time

In unison, uncannily precise

Weaving in the briny air

A checkered tapestry of brown and white.

Out beyond a hoarse and hissing surf

A pelican dives to breach a swell

With lancing beak, then bobs erect

With bulging pouch, extruded fin.

And from a sun-drenched sandy beach

Filaments of a faint white mist

Rise and drift lazily inland

Toward the green-flocked dunes.

Douglas Schuder (Randy) Amid Flocks of Sandpipers

Two Haiku

Cold sea molds the white wave,

sore feet hop in hot sand

Woman searching beach for lost keys,

her dog finds a stick

Poems by Juliette Aristides

Naturalist Painting

So little there—

The ocean extending like a beam,

A length of compacted beach

Against a stretched-out sky—

Interlocking planes of matte color

Disturbed by the incidental—

Multitudes of pebbles, sticks, and shells….

At first glance

it all looked simple.

Seascape by Juliette Aristedes


The stage opens to a rocky beach,

an infinite vista of sand and sky.

The cast of beachgoers arrive,

their cosmic significance

hidden under sun hats.

When twilight comes they’ll go on home,

leaving the seaweed and starfish to fend for themselves.

I in the audience choose between them.

My vote is cast with the silent stage,

the mute presence of the jagged rocks

a witness to the wastefulness of words.

Poems by Rick Clark

Looking Close

It’s not so simple as one might think,

without looking, to see what grows

on this jetty rock, partially emerged

in sand and grit.

At bottom

a fine green wavy hair of seaweed

and long flat strands of brown,

all pointing which way

the tide went out,

and crowding the recesses and cracks

tiny villages of barnacles

and then, near the top,

a different seaweed, a short-haired,

powdery light green.

And if we looked closer, what would we see,

what smaller, harder-to-bring-into-focus

forms of life encrust and slime over

this pitted, abstractly shaped,

half-buried boulder?

How close are we obliged to peer

at the world around us,

all these rocks and trees,

these birds and bees we overlook

or never stop to see up near?

What, indeed, is our range,

our distance, our hard remove?

Do we look through a microscope

or a telescope? Or both?

Or neither?

Jetty Rock

New World

In as few as four years

the point has stretched out

another half a mile into the harbor,

not only sand been washed

back into the bay

to form this heavy spit

but also the sedge grasses,

the sweet pea vines,

the quick bees and the slow

and these frisky flies.

And one sweet song sparrow

has taken up residence

in this newly created world,

singing most delightedly.

Flash Haiku Mini-Essay

What’s cool about the “flash haiku”

is that in waiting for one to happen,

being prepared for one to happen,

perhaps even seeking for one to occur

in front of the eyes—say, by going to the beach

and watching a flock of Western sandpipers—

it gets us to trust in the moment

and trust that beyond the moment

is a nothingness from which flies

into and out of us a flash of insight or humor

and we trust to that process, that instantaneous process

that is a body prepared for a signal from what,

for all practical purposes, is outer space—

and. voila! there’s a tiny one-breath poem

that accompanies that flash, known as a haiku.

We wrote the following two poems together as a group.  I also took part in this writing exercise:

Wall’s Necklace

Cracks made of vines,

a jeweler in the form of a spider,

like strings of seeds on snow, on sand.

I look close to investigate,

find beauty and resemblances

at intimate levels.

So sensual

these minimal marks

I gather them all

and spread them on my rising belly.

Wall's Necklace

Intimate Flowers

Intimate crystal bursting

tender as toe flesh.

Asymmetrical symmetry.

I see an anemone

on dry land, vivid with life,

flames of color combusting

from a sea of green.

I touch the tips

with my tender thumbs,

am electrified

by the sheer existence of petals.

Such pleasure found

in such simple things!

Intimate Flowers

Crabapple Tree by Juliette Aristedes

This first annual Nature Image Writing Retreat was such a success that we plan on holding it again on February 18-20, 2012! This next retreat will be a multi-faceted creative event combining nature writing, yoga, birds, and photography.  It will fall on the National Audubon Bird Count weekend.  Check my website in the near future for details.


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One Response to “Writing Retreat! Nature Image: Seeing the Wild Words”

  1. Randy Says:

    What a great gathering of people, and what an outpouring of creativity. Let’s do it again!


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