In praise of slow

praise of slowAs the winter weather and the holiday season nudges us into a more mellow state, I am reminded of a fabulous book that came out a few years ago, by Carl Honoré, called In praise of slowness: Challenging the cult of speed. The idea of “slow” is related to the Slow Food Movement that began in the late 1980s when Carlo Petrini campaigned against the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant near the Spanish Steps in Rome.

praise of slow
Hobbit House

We have the perfect winter arrangement for slow at Wintergreen. Come stay in one of our magical woodland cabins for restorative retreat. Explore trail upon trail on hundreds of acres of land, all part of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve. Be nourished by quiet hikes in the stillness of the forest.

By January, our Beach House – the biggest off-grid cabin at Wintergreen – will be outfitted with a dry kitchen and a new airtight stove, thanks to the funding we received from the Frontenac CFDC under the Eastern Ontario Development Program. The lodge is also available for longer stays.

You can learn more about all of our winter retreat facilities by clicking here or by contacting our Operations Manager, Karen Smereka, directly at karen@wintergreenstudios.com.

And to wrap things up, instead of a 2-minute facebook not-so-slow video, here’s a full TED talk about the book and the slow movement as a whole. Curl up somewhere, with a steaming hot cup of tea, and savour these ideas…

Gail Sidonie Sobat’s Poetry Prize

Sobat-Cover_small-678x1024Gail Sidonie Sobat’s poetry book, How the Light is Spent, published in 2013 by Wintergreen Studios Press, is being honored as a Shelf Unbound Notable Book in the poetry category as part of the The Third Annual Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Independently Published Book, sponsored by Bowker. Gail’s book will be featured in the December/January 2015 issue of Shelf Unbound. It is available at Wintergreen or online.

And in other good news … Gail has just been selected as one of two Metro Edmonton Federation of Libraries Writers in Residence for 2015.  For any Wintergreen friends living in the Edmonton area, there is a reception on December 11, 2014 at the Stanley Milner Library at 7:00 pm to kick off the 2015 Writers in Residence program. I’m sure Gail would be happy to see a friend of Wintergreen in attendance!

Inspired by Amsterdam

Just back from Europe. I’m always humbled to see how some European countries are so far ahead of us on the environmental front. Yes, there are wind turbines and solar panels everywhere. But there is more.

AmsterdamAmsterdam is an airport hub, and I’ve landed there many times, but never had the opportunity to walk the streets or take a boat along the canals. This time I did. I was amazed. These two photos are indicative of a lifestyle that is growing greener all the time. One photo shows the bicycles — in a city with about 850,000 people, there are over a million bikes. It doesn’t take a math wizard to recognize that there are a lot of people riding bikes in Amsterdam! And with good reason — there are over 400 kilometers of bike paths, some of which take just as much space as the road for cars.

IMG_6305Then there was the airport hotel, which was a run-of-the-mill Radisson. This photo shows part of the sign next to the elevator — note the bottom entry — there were multiple car charging spots in the parking lot on the lower level. Enjoy your breakfast and charge your car… what a concept.

Humbling, yes, this bike-friendly-Venice-of-the-North . But also inspiring. We have such capacity to live in ways that are healthier for the planet, and for us, too.

Biodiversity plot update …

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 4.01.58 PMLast weekend Dr. Graham Whitelaw, from the School of Environmental Studies at Queen’s University, along with Dr. James Hamilton from Wilfrid Laurier University, travelled to Wintergreen to continue work on our biodiversity plot.

The biodiversity plot – measuring 20 m. x 20 m. – is not far from the Main Trail and can be easily accessed from the Cliff Trail. We will be able to monitor the health of the trees, the rate of regeneration, as well as shrub and plant life, as part of a pan-Canadian database on our precious trees and their habitats.

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 4.01.07 PMThose of you who might have seen earlier posts on this project will know that our focus is primarily on the Butternut trees, an endangered species in our part of the world. Wintergreen has many, many butternuts, and while some are healthy, others have succumbed to the canker disease that is killing so many. Learning more about their habitat will give us an opportunity to contribute to the growing knowledge about these valuable and special trees.

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 4.03.25 PMbiodiversity plotScreen Shot 2014-11-15 at 4.01.28 PMOur work on Sunday involved honing in on the four corners of the site (with the help of a GPS, yes, but also that reliable and old-fashioned technology known as a paper and pencil, and a giant (I mean giant!) ruler. The corners are marked with posts and a bright orange cap. We’ve left the tape on the site as well, to ensure that future visitors to the site are mindful to walk the perimeter rather than disturbing the growth within.

In addition to marking the four corners, we also mapped out all of the trees with at least a 10 cm. diameter. As we marked the trees, we measured their circumferences, plotted them on a graph, and made notes about the trees themselves. These trees have small shiny markers; the photo is of the first tree: WG – 1 – 01:  Wintergreen – Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 4.01.45 PMPlot 1 – Tree 1.

biodiversity plotIt’s very exciting to see this project develop, and we look forward to welcoming visitors to our plot in the very near future.

Poetry Retreat with Lorna Crozier – May 2015

Calling all poets …

LornaGreat news – Lorna Crozier is returning to Wintergreen in the spring of 2015. A full week workshop begins on May 17; click here for all of the details.

For those of you who have enjoyed time with Lorna at Wintergreen in the past, this is a wonderful opportunity to interact with Lorna once again, but in a different format than most of the past weekend-long workshops. This time, Lorna will be with us for a week, and in addition to her marvelous instructional seminars, there will be time for participants to really enjoy all that spring at Wintergreen has to offer, and to carve out time to actually write!

If you have any interest, plan now to attend; this workshop is already filling up with both past and new participants.

Camino at Wintergreen

CaminoLast weekend we were treated to an amazing event at Wintergreen, celebrating the sights, sounds, smells, and stories of the Camino. If it wasn’t on my bucket list already…

CaminoAnd we were treated to the tastes of the Camino too, with a Spanish inspired meal, created by our Chef, Louise Cooper, with the help of many volunteers, including Chris Hudson, who created our Tarta de Santiago for dessert.

Peter Coffman, from Carleton University, gave a splendid talk about his experiences on the Camino. Called “Musical Landscapes,” the Caminopresentation included Peter’s stunning photographs of the Camino, as well as extraordinary samples of Oliver Schroer’s violin offerings, created on the Camino journey that they trod together, along with their life companions.

This event was such fun that we’re thinking of offering something Camino related again this spring.

Camino Spirit event is full!

Thanks to everyone who has signed up for the event on November 1st. We’re now full up and are not taking any more registrations. If you’ve missed this opportunity to sign up, please contact karen@wintergreenstudios.com to be put on the waiting list, or to be notified about the next Camino event.

We’re excited to have a full house for what is going to be a great evening.

See you all then!

Butternut trees

butternut treebutternut tree butternut treeA few weeks ago, we learned that our application to the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation was successful. This grant will allow us to learn more about the endangered butternut tree, and to catalogue the health of our butternut trees at Wintergreen, document their habitat, and develop educational programs about this extraordinary tree.

We’re starting work on the project already. The first task was to identify a 20 meter x 20 meter area that will be carefully monitored to learn about tree health, growth, decay, and regeneration. We expect to be marking the trees themselves in about a month’s time, in partnership with students and faculty from the Environmental Studies Program at Queen’s.

New batteries!

batteriesWe’ve finally made the big move — fresh new batteries and a generator specifically designed for an off-grid system. Thanks to the generosity of our partner, Quantum Renewable Energy, and to funding from the Frontenac CFDC, under the auspices of the Eastern Ontario Development Program, we’re going to be “powerful” all winter long!

Eastern Ontario Development Program

Frontenac CFDCExciting news! The Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP) offers grants to promote growth of existing businesses in Eastern Ontario, as well as to advance community-led economic development to diversify local economies.

We applied for an EODP grant through the Frontenac CFDC – and we were successful! The $15,000 grant will cover half of the costs associated with our plans to extend Wintergreen’s season to the winter months. Last year, we explored the possibility of year-round retreats and programming, with our new partner, RKY camps, as well as private rentals of the lodge and cabins. Building on those successful pilot projects, we are now planning to make the Beach House winter ready. This will include the installation of an airtight woodstove from Renewable Energy of Plum Hollow and a dry kitchen. We will also upgrade our generator and batteries for the lodge’s solar system, so that we have all the power we need for the winter months.

And then there are the snowshoes… we’ve partnered with Trailhead Kingston, and if you come to the lodge or rent a cabin in the winter, you’ll be able to grab a pair of snowshoes to make your way down the snowy winter trails!

Frontenac CFDCQuantum Renewable Energy will be installing our batteries and generator, designed for an off-grid system. We’ll be fully functional by the time the snow flies! Check our website under rentals for details for planning your private retreat – winter, fall, spring or summer!

bringing balance back