I adore this pig. And the woman, Annie, who snapped this photo. Just look at that face. Have you ever before wanted to kiss a pig?
I adore this piglet, too.
I adore Beth Kephart, memorist extraordinaire, and her husband, Bill, sculptor and photographer. Last month we spent five days together on a farm in McClure, Pennsylvania, at a memoir writing workshop, Juncture Workshops, they co-architected and co-produced.
I adore these women (below). What would a production be without a cast? Annie’s the one in the orange jacket.
I have been holding off on writing about this experience because I am not sure what to make of it. It was so many things. Equal parts humbling and inspiring. I quickly realized I was in a different league, maybe even out of my league. Before, I had only been to day camps (local writing workshops); this was sleepover camp. I told Beth midway that I felt like Andy Warhol at a Monet workshop. We were reading — and the others were writing — flowing prose, spun silver on the page. I am a reporter at heart, simply and honestly reporting what I see, hear and feel.
Ever heard of McClure, Pennsylvania? I hadn’t. It’s in rural western Pennsylvania. There, there is no Galleria, Museum of Fine Arts or fancy private schools. There it’s real. The region was experiencing its worst drought in many years. There was grave concern that there wouldn’t be enough water to sustain the farm, including the animals, much less the writers in residence. Real concern. That’s Roxie, the farm dog. And my favorite goose. Her feathers remind me of my second wedding dress, but that’s another story.
My “room” was an old farm house, one of many the farm owners have collected and scattered about the property. The stairs led to my bedroom. I took a flashlight upstairs with me at night, in case I needed to go downstairs. Good thing we weren’t drinking (much).
One of our exercises was to make spaghetti sauce, from scratch, in the farm’s kitchen. We didn’t know what the associated writing assignment would be until after the sauce had been chopped, peeled, simmered, canned and sealed. Given my Green/Red personality, I took photos of everything, fearful we would be called upon to remember details.
Another exercise was to capture photos on the farm. We were each given a theme. Then we wrote about one of our photos. My theme was Light and Shadow. Here is my selected photo. My piece was dark. So dark it unnerved me.
And here are a few others.
It was a wonderful experience. So much so that Beth is working on a reunion for our group, the inaugural Juncture workshop group, as she makes final preparations for the second Juncture workshop, taking place early next month in Cape May, New Jersey. I suspect she will soon be working on a reunion for that group, too.