Adventures at Small Pond: A Writing Retreat for the Soul

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of doing a short writing residency at this amazing 87 acre farm just outside Picton, Ontario. Small Pond Arts is a wild, sprawling space that includes an arts retreat centre, an art studio, and a ridiculously charming residence with an open kitchen, peaceful rooms, and a huge front porch dotted with brightly painted chairs.

The owners, Krista Dalby & Mile Murtanovski,  are not only a super badass power-couple and gorgeously talented artists themselves, but they have also created such a warm, welcoming, and vibrant community – a space where one can go to meet other creative kindred spirits, share stories, laughter, and good fresh food.

I was greeted straight out of the taxi, and swooped off for a magical tour of the property – past the old grain Silo (sporting a giant banner with an arrow pointing upwards to the sky), the gardens, the open meadow, the cut paths leading through the forest filled with glorious and quirky art installations. I also had the honour of witnessing the first firing of the newly build cob earth oven (best homemade pizza I have ever tasted! *drool*)

In the brief 4 1/2 days I was there, I read and wrote my heart out, I meditated and sat in peaceful silence under the trees, I ate incredibly nourishing food, and I connected with some fabulous folks. Bonus: a short road trip to Sandbanks National Park to check out the sand dunes with Jennifer Morales and Tina Owen (possibly two of the coolest women ever).

  • locally made ice cream shops that light up our mouths and calm our fears
  • vast sand dunes with steep hills

  • burning feet and the good-kind-of-ache in your calves
  • the coolness of digging beneath the sand with your hands, grains running through your fingers
  • running down hills gleefully and free like a child (making a shaky video of your feet flying)

  • feet dipping into warm water that you expected to be cold
  • hard-packed rippled sand, carved from the waves, massaging your feet and hitting the pressure points when you walk
  • ordering poutine when you know it will make your stomach scream, but you can’t resist those gorgeously gooey heavy carbs
  • fathers hugging soft scared kids with sand in their eyes and a fear of water
  • baby herons and tiny catfish
  • pesky seagulls with their squacks and ruffled feathers and angry red mouths, stalking butterflies on the shore
  • watching with binoculars and squinted eyes and big grins
  • brightly coloured butterflies everywhere, dipping in and out of the milkweed that grows abundantly
  • the rich wine coloured sumac

I realize how important it was for me to carve out the time and space to treat myself to a retreat. As I nested in the Salon du Silo, the little outdoor fort beneath the trees, my mind became more clear and calm, my body softened and the pain eased off, my creativity flourished and I learned a lot about myself. When my mind and body got quiet, my heart got louder. 

Salon du Silo

writing prompts from ellie di at the headologist

Krista’s awesome & creepy ‘Punch and Judy’ puppets

Krista wrote about the our experiences here

How do you create space for rest and retreat?
What are your indicators that tell you that it’s time for a break?


6 thoughts on “Adventures at Small Pond: A Writing Retreat for the Soul


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s