I just finished a week long class at the Clearing in Ellison Bay, Door County, Wisconsin. Founded in 1935 by Jens Jensen, the school harkens back to the Danish tradition of non-competitive, hands-on learning with a focus on nature. Classes are held in a peaceful, natural environment along the shores of Green Bay in a truly retreat-like atmosphere. I studied Photoshop with Mark Southard and Bill Brown but other offerings included Birding, Writing and independent study.
I enrolled as a commuter student but most of the other attendees lived on campus in cabins built of natural materials like logs and stone–completed with signed, handmade quilts. The commuters are included in lunch at the Clearing and the food was my biggest surprise. From baked, whitefish to BBQ ribs, matched with salads, homemade breads and wonderful desserts (giant red strawberries with a chocolate dipping sauce was my favorite), I was surprised and delighted with every meal. Coming from a house that is temporarily sans kitchen, it was an even bigger treat!
I learned a lot in my Photoshop Class and should now be able to stop some of the time-wasting practices I had adopted as a victim of self-study. The students produced some gorgeous photos for their final projects and I decided I would have to do more photography of my own (versus using manufacturer images and stock photos). If only days were longer—sigh.
On Friday night there was a final celebration. The Photoshop Class put out an exhibit of finished works and I think we were all amazed at what a week could do. The independent study folks showed their paper boxes and gourd creations and the birders gave a humorous lesson in birding. Finally the writers read excerpts from their works including a story where the “blob” from the waters of Green Bay ventures out to the Clearing in search of a dinner repast of student. The story was a hoot, and we all left the schoolhouse talking, chuckling, and occasionally looking over our shoulders. A great end to a week of natural living at its finest!
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