Wind brushing through the Willows; ice-covered creek gurgling as it wends beside the woods and under a footbridge; the squeak and crunch of zero degree snow under my insulated Muck boots.

Sun blindingly bright on white snow; tree limbs silhouetted against pink and orange hues of sunset; moon casting sharp, black shadows of fences and trees; stars twinkling in the indigo sky.

A peaceful spot to think and write. The luxury of time to read without interruption. The joy of playful walks with my dogs. Beauty all around to capture with brush or pencil in my journal.

I spent Friday and Saturday alone in the guest house at my parents’ farm. It’s a small, simple, quiet place that allowed me the space and time to unwind, read, reflect, write, paint, and walk in beautiful surroundings with my dogs. No road noise, no people, no internet, no sounds but those supplied by nature.

I was long overdue for some retreat time, and I feel wonderfully refreshed and energized by my time alone. When I first got there I found myself hopping up and down, distracted by every little thought and impulse that passed through my mind. After a few hours I was calm on the inside, sitting quietly with Milo curled on my lap, a cup of tea in my hand, while I alternately read and gazed out the window while pondering the books I was reading (The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri Nouwen and The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney).

When I woke up at 3:00 AM, the bright moonlight drew me out into the frigid but peaceful night. Petra and I walked quietly up the hill to look out over the valley, then Rowan and I explored down toward the pond and danced gleefully in the snowy field.

Time alone in silence helps me find and draw forth the quieter parts of myself, the parts that get shoved down when I live with noise and the busyness of daily life and my inner compulsion to keep constantly connected with the world via the computer. I like those more reserved aspects of my being and feel more complete and alive when I nurture them. I won’t wait so long before seeking solitude again.

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