Saturday, May 29, 2010


I spent last night at the home of lovely Wren Smith. Wren works as the Interpretive Programs Manager and Naturalist at Bernheim, and she also is a sculptor, poet, and essayist. She is a person to whom I was drawn immediately when I met her last September at the Connect Festival here at the arboretum. She just fills you with warmth and laughter and wonder.

Wren lives in a beautiful old farmhouse out in the countryside, and her house is surrounded by the most magnificent garden--full of explosively gorgeous poppies, vegetables, fat and friendly chickens, and several beehives. Wren made a delicious dinner that we ate together outside in the garden. Winona the Chicken tried her best to snatch some tidbits off my plate by leaping onto the table, the naughty thing! (I hardly had the heart to push her away, though, she was so charming.) Dolly Chicken hung around by my feet, looking at me expectantly and taking sips of water that had accumulated in a leaf. We (Wren and I, not the chickens and I) talked about art and life and the glorious natural world around us while we ate, and then took an evening stroll through her neighbors' field to meet some baby alpacas who nearly killed me with their cuteness.

When it grew too dark to stay outside, we sat in Wren's cozy living room listening to music and talking until the wee hours, while her two enormous and fluffy kitties lounged around and occasionally came over for a nuzzle. I slept soundly in her spare bedroom.

In the morning, Wren let me dress up in her beekeeping gear and look into the hives. Well, Wren did all of the work, without any veil or suit on, while I shivered in fear, dressed from head to toe in gear! The bees were so gentle. As Wren pulled layers of the hive up for me to see, they buzzed fuzzily and sweetly together, completely unfazed. Wren told me she thought she might be able to harvest some honey this year.

We drove into Bernheim bright and early, and I got back to my cabin at 9:00, with 30 minutes to spare before being picked up by Albertus Gorman, Artist at Exit 0, for another day of adventuring!

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