Spring Break Retreat: Hemlock Haven

The theme for my blog in March is “SPRING BREAK.” With the disruption of routines due to Covid, I’m not sure how many schools will have spring break this year. Traditionally, it is a week off from school, giving families the opportunity to go away and spend time together. Today I’m talking about one of my favorite vacation spots and how it has inspired me in my writing career.

We discovered this quiet cabin, called Hemlock Haven, in August 2010. Good friends own the cabin and live just a short distance away from it. My husband and I visited there and thought it would make a very nice place to vacation. Shortly after that visit, he passed away. A few weeks later, my friends invited us to stay a night at the cabin. My kids and I enjoyed it so much that we went back many times.

The cabin became our spring break getaway. It had a full kitchen, so I could take food along with us to cook. I bought groceries that would last for a couple of days, and lots of junk food and sodas. The cabin is only a couple of miles from a small town with a grocery store and a couple of dollar stores, so we didn’t need to take food for every meal. There were a couple of restaurants in the small town, and we usually ate one meal out, and picked up pizza for another meal. The grocery store had a hot case deli, and we bought a meal there each time we visited. We also started the tradition of going to an Amish bakery on the way and getting homemade bread and jam to take with us.

The cabin had a TV with a DVD player, so we picked up new movies every time we went, at least one new release and others that the kids or I wanted to see. I don’t watch TV at home, but at the cabin, I wasn’t distracted and could enjoy a few hours of watching movies. While there, we went to the dollar stores in the town nearby and bought new DVD’s on their bargain racks and watched those, also.

My favorite part of being at the cabin was sitting on the high riverbank, watching and listening to the water flow past and the wind rustling in the trees. I always thought of one of my dad’s favorite hymns, “How Great Thou Art,” when I was there. At home, we live on a busy street, so being in the woods, without another house in sight, was a real treat for me.

There was a stereo at the cabin with some albums, and I enjoyed listening to oldies’ music while sitting in the enclosed back porch. On each visit, I took my Bible, a hymnal and a notebook. I did a lot of journaling and inner reflection while I stayed there. Time away from my everyday routine cleared my head. God showed me different things about my life that I could take back home with me and work on.

The cabin retreat also inspired my writing. In 2011, a year after my husband passed away, I started a new book in an ongoing series while at the cabin. When I went home after that visit, I finished the story in three weeks. It was very emotional and had a lovely scene at the end with a memorial service, which I’m sure was inspired in part by my own loss.

During another visit, I started a short story that took place at a cabin like that one. The story morphed into a complete novel that became the first in a series.

Since my good friend lives just a short walk through the woods from the cabin, I never felt like we were totally alone there. We always tried to fit in a visit while we were there. The cabin was a secure vacation spot, not far from home, and yet it was a quiet getaway. A couple of years ago, the cabin no longer was available, but by that time, my kids had outgrown the enjoyment of spending a couple of days “unplugged.”

The cabin, Hemlock Haven, was truly a haven of rest for me during some difficult years. I’m thankful for the time that I spent there with my kids, getting to know them better, and the fun memories that we share. I’m also thankful for the inspiration that came from spending time in the beautiful, quiet setting and finding a retreat from the routines of life.

Published by Carol Underhill

Author of Christian romance. Mom to 3 adult children and a spoiled Lab. Household includes several rescued cats. Loves flavored coffees and quiet mornings. Likes finding new authors on Kindle and binge reading all their books.

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