Point Reyes is the Teacher
by Sarah Rabkin, Field Institute Instructor
When I was invited to lead writing retreats for the Point Reyes National Seashore Association's Field Institute, I felt as if I’d won the lottery. I grew up hiking and picnicking with family and friends all over Point Reyes. In some of my happiest memories, Limantour’s salt breezes mingle with the hush of a forest on Inverness Ridge; folksongs fill a homeward-bound VW, its floor mats covered with pine needles and sand, Tomales Bay in the dusky rear view.
Point Reyes is in my heart, and now I have the thrill of sharing this place with others who love it too. As we bend over our notebooks—with Drake’s Bay vistas shining through salt-glazed windows at the Historic Lifeboat Station, or a woodstove warming us at the Environmental Education Center—the terrain becomes our teacher. At every workshop and retreat, I am surprised anew by the insights and eloquence this place draws out of people who come to write here. And I’m moved by the generous, adventurous spirit that enlivens our exploration, creation, and sharing.
A potent alchemy emerges when writers congregate in beloved territory, with hearts open to the land and ears tuned to our own deepest yearnings. Inchoate insights find expression; newfound language lends music to ancient knowledge. Whether you’re a new or experienced writer, whether you write primarily for personal discovery or with an emphasis on craft, Point Reyes finds its way into your notebook, with a power and artistry you didn’t know you had.
Sarah is a writer, artist, and award-winning teacher of writing and environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz. She fell in love with Point Reyes as a Bay Area kid, and the landscapes of West Marin continue to influence her work. Her writing has appeared in a variety of periodicals and anthologies, including The Way of Natural History, edited by Thomas Lowe Fleischner; The Alphabet of the Trees: A Guide to Nature Writing, edited by Christian McEwen and Mark Statman; A Forest of Voices: Conversations in Ecology, edited by Chris Anderson and Lex Runciman, and Storming Heaven’s Gate: Spiritual Writings by Women, edited by Amber Coverdale Sumrall and Patrice Vecchione. She is the author and illustrator of What I Learned at Bug Camp: Essays on Finding a Home in the World (Juniper Lake Press, 2011). www.sarahrabkin.com
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