Serenity echoes deep in a central Wyoming lodgepole pine forest with the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. Chickadees chirp from tree branches, mule deer munch late summer grass, and orange-spotted butterflies wing through waves of yellow daisies. Within the stillness of the woodland, a group of 20 people spread like spokes on a wheel, finding inspiration, tranquility, and creativity.
For the past four summers I’ve welcomed a group of writers to my secluded mountain property. We spend an afternoon soaking in the solace of the landscape, escaping traffic noise and the ring of telephones. This is my special retreat, a place where I’ve written articles and developed book ideas. I share it with my writers’ group one day of the year, and during those afternoon hours, creativity flows, from poetry to children’s stories.
Located a short 20-minute drive from my house in town, my woodland hideaway seems hours from the barrage of droning disruptions. This peaceful parcel of forest land has become my writing refuge. Thoreau had his Walden's Pond; I have my Peaceable Kingdom, 3+ acres of Rocky Mountain forest at an elevation of 8,000 feet. Within the timbered setting stands a 12x40 foot wood-sided cabin, which receives electricity from the sun via solar panels and heat from a russet-enameled woodstove. Although other cabins are visible through the lacy lodgepole branches, rarely is my quietude disturbed, for other property owners don't frequent their private paradises as I do mine, even during summer.
Setting is important in stories, from the written word to the backdrop of a movie screen. I am inspired by my mountain property much as Laura Ingalls Wilder was by her surroundings, whether it was Rocky Ridge Farm in Missouri or the great plains of the Dakotas. The inspired woodland location atop Casper Mountain encourages writings that will, I hope, uplift readers of my words. Whether the product is a book about my dog that helps children facing adversity, a story that teaches an environmental lesson, or an article that encourages people who are down on themselves, the excitement I feel when I sit across from my laptop in the stillness of my mountain acreage cascades through mind and spirit. For me, tranquility equals creativity and productivity.
Laura had her Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, and the Farm House in the Ozarks. I have a combination – my Little Cabin in the Tall Woods of the Great Plains. And tomorrow I will again share this unique environ with fellow writers. I smile as I envision the amazing compositions which will bloom within us as we savor the serene surroundings.
Gayle M. Irwin is a Wyoming writer, author, and speaker who creates inspirational pet stories for children and adults. She is the author of seven books and a contributing writer to six Chicken Soup for the Soul compilations. She is also a contributor to last month’s Sundown Press release Memories on Maple Street U.S.A.: Pawprints on My Heart. She volunteers for various Rocky Mountain region pet rescue organizations and writes for several newspapers and magazines, sharing stories about people, pets, and nature. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.