A retreat at the Farm at Weathers Creek
Try to imagine a beautiful log house at the top of a hill surrounded on three sides by trees. Then imagine looking across a small front yard to see a field of golden hay blowing in the breeze. If you can imagine all of that, then you have seen the Farm at Weathers Creek.
The Farm at Weathers Creek is not only a place, but a vision of sisters Donna, Susan and Cindy Campbell. This vision became a reality when a log house that had been in the family for years in Mount Ulla was taken apart and restored on land belonging to their parents, Sara Edwards and John P. Campbell. Passed down through several generations, the house was originally built by Lemuel Edwards, Sara’s grandfather.
Taken apart in 1994, the house was not restored until 1996. Although it looks the same from the outside, the rooms don’t have the original floor plan, being adjusted to fit the needs of modern times. This refurbished log house is loved because it’s comfortable as well as a family treasure.
Cindy and Susan have always lived a life immersed in the arts, so it seemed natural when, struggling financially after the recession of 2008, they began to explore creative possibilities for income. Having connections with many and varied authors, artists and musicians, they decided to open their home (the log house) for creative writing workshops. Ann Wicker, a mutual friend and freelance writer was a great addition to the partnership because Ann also had contacts for possible clinicians.
Since the first workshop in the fall of 2009, many and diverse experts have given presentations in that beautiful farm setting on topics that include writing novels, songs, children’s books, creative non-fiction, poetry, photography, memoirs and social media.
What better place than an idyllic country setting to get the creative juices going? Normally, workshops are for only one day with presentations held in the log cabin, but this past June things were a little different. Wanting to try something new, Susan said they decided on a two-day workshop, with participants camping out under the stars.
On the day of the workshop, participants (including me) signed in under an oak tree using a desk that was actually an ironing board covered with a tablecloth. Special instructions were written on an index card that said, “Walk softly and carry a big stick. Leaves of 3-let it be. As you walk on the pathway, be mindful! Pay attention! And breathe!”
After registration, we stood under the oak tree, in the middle of the woods, waiting for further instructions. That’s when Susan said, “A couple of weeks ago, we had a big storm and ever since then the animals have been in an uproar. The big stick is for snakes. We’ve seen quite a few of them lately, so walk carefully.” Even though everyone’s eyes got a little bigger, no one got in their car and left.
With the temperature warmer than expected, the afternoon session was moved inside, where freelance writer and blogger Tara Groth taught a workshop on social media and blogging. Since most of the participants had a blog, Tara presented current info related to the needs of the group.
Everyone had different reasons for taking the workshop, with one participant from Charlotte, Claire Asbury, saying she was especially interested in learning how to create a schedule for blog posting, as well as attract more readers. She also said, “I love the setting. The atmosphere of the log house has a cozy, warm feel that balances against the open land. It gives the feeling of being far away from civilization, and yet, it’s not.”
Russ McCullough, pastor of Archdale Church of Christ in Charlotte, said he took the workshop to learn more of the technical side of social media and then added, “Whether you like social media or not, it’s a necessity in marketing.”
Reflecting on her experience at the farm, Tara said, “Weathers Creek is an incredibly unique and restoring environment that lends itself perfectly to creative people who are ready to push themselves to another level. What tickled me the most was teaching while sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch. How many writers have that experience? In my opinion, not enough.”
After a day of learning about blogging and social media, by late afternoon, everyone was thinking about food. I’ve had meals at the farm before and know what awesome cooks Susan and Cindy are, often preparing vegetables fresh from their garden.
The spread for the evening meal consisted of barbecue, fried okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, baked beans, grilled corn on the cob and slaw. Even though my husband, Michael, wasn’t officially a part of the workshop, Susan invited him to the meal. I told her if she had fried okra and corn on the cob, Michael would be her friend for life. He looked pretty happy chowing down.
For dessert, coke floats made from Mooresville Deluxe ice-cream were enjoyed by all sitting on the porch, watching the sun go down. In between bites, lots of stories and laughter were shared. Even though everyone may have been tired, no one verbalized those feelings. Not one to enjoy camping, I didn’t take advantage of a night under the stars on the cold ground. Instead, I used the excuse of having to get up the next morning for church and went home to my cozy, warm bed.
Driving away that Saturday evening, I looked in my rear view mirror to see a group of people walking down a path towards the creek, carrying a big stick. My thought was that writers from all walks of life had come together early that morning in a spirit of learning, but by the end of the day had gained so much more. At least for a weekend, on a farm nestled in the woods, a group of people experienced not only what it means to walk softly and carry a big stick, but also how to be mindful, pay attention and breathe.
Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Call her at 704-278-4377.