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Travels With Ronni

This is the beginning of my blog to share with you thoughts, feelings and experiences of years of traveling. The places I’ve been and return to as often as possible, have fed my imagination as much as given me a sense of peace and balance. My home base in Sarasota , Florida is a place of work and reflection. Much of my written opus reflects my life and experiences both true and fictionalized that are set in places I’ve lived such as rural New York farms, Tuscany hills and valleys, Venetian canals and alleyways, and talculm powdered beaches on the rock, Bermuda. It is with my life long experiences as a writer and teacher sensitized to the human experience that I offer my clients guidance as Book Midwife-writing coach. These blogs will appear as often as possible on my website and you’re welcome to comment.

September 30, 2017

My first sight of Cyprus trees made me sigh with a feeling of peace that I had returned home. Traveling by car on the road leading to Villa Le Barone, Panzano in Chianti, Italy, a five star hotel near Siena late August 2017 I felt embraced once again by the hills and valleys covered in grape vines and olive trees.

I’ve been traveling to Italy for the past fifty years. The countryside of Tuscany is where a branch of my literary life began as a young married woman with three children aged three, five and seven and neophyte writer. Years ago I had made arrangements to stay for a week in the hills outside of Siena so that we could observe the festivities surrounding the Palio, the famous horse race operating since the Medieval ages. I was unaware at the time that Villa Solia was owned by Arturo Vivante, a novelist and short story writer and recipient of the Katherine Anne Porter award for literature. My meeting with Arturo was beshert, (destiny) since it set me on my path as an autobiographical fiction writer, as he was. He mentored me through decades of our friendship and was also my writer-in-residence at many Tuscan writing workshops until his death a few years ago.

The 10th C church down the dirt road from the Villa Le Barone where our retreat was held this year as they have for many, tolled the hours and kept us on course through the day and night. It was the reminder of time rolling on through the centuries, of humans living out their lives close to the land and harvesting tradition in both food and culture. We responded through words and paints to our own relationships to the land.

Travel has been in my blood since infancy when my father, a lawyer, a romantic and first generation American had the yen to see and experience different places and countries always taking me, my mother, and subsequent siblings on trips from our city apartment in New Jersey and later home in the suburbs. Much of travel in my early years was by car, and childhood summers were spent on dairy farms in the New York Catskill mountains where farmers took in guests. It’s no wonder that the rural countryside still calls to me.

On a trip with parents and siblings by ship from New York to Southampton, England at the end of my junior year at Boston University we traveled by train to and through northern European countries until we arrived one rainy, August day in Venice. We were welcomed with open arms by the motorman who taxied us to the Royal Danielle Hotel. That evening I stepped out on the balcony. The full moon shone on the Grand Canal below and the gondoliers sang with no passengers in their gondolas. I who has studied ballet and theater saw this as a live stage setting and I fell in love at that moment with a country and a people, a love that has never left me.

La Serenissima, Venice massages my curiosity, as with all lovers a sense of mystery stimulates interest. Year after year I return to the canals, bridges and winding alleys around the time of my birthday to mark the occasion of my adolescent love. These unexplained ingredients have provided much of my opus of stories and plays.

I flew to New York on the heels of my return from Italy and survival of hurricane Irma in Sarasota, Florida my home base. Once again I felt calmed by the Catskill mountains in Woodstock, New York and neighboring rural farm community of Greenville, New York. Woodstock had taken me in years ago when I was fraught with imbalance, unsure of a direction after a divorce, attempts to find a soul mate and sustain myself financially. The epiphany I had one winter morning over twenty-six years ago as I sat at my desk in my home studio in Lake Hill (a hamlet of Woodstock) in the eclectic pine cabin I built surrounded by mountains and fields of undulating hay provided the direction for my life. Write It Out was born that moment in my cabin of pine and glass. I’m forever grateful for that experience that has given me the opportunity to write, teach and guide others to find their centers through writing.

This was the 23rd year for my annual one week intensive writing workshop in the farm community of Greenville, NY where we again, as in all of my workshops focus on the sensory experiences of both inner and outer world. A student gave me a peach from her tree. “All organic. More than organic,” Jane said. It was the sweetest fruit I’d tasted. Another student Barbara brought in flowers from her garden, one a huge purple zinnia, “My favorite color”. I remarked. “Keep the jar,” she said. “It’s an old canning jar of my mother’s.” Still another student Roberta brought in green peppers from her farm. Last month her grown son died suddenly from a massive heart attack as he was haying their fields. That day she was dressed in pink and wrote about the joy of seeing his pictures as a young child. Coming to class and writing was her way of finding peace and continuing with life.

I’m felt embraced by the mountains once again. The roads were devoid of traffic and wound up and down and around past cows grazing and fields of shucked corn as I drove forty-five minutes each morning and returned early afternoon to and from Greenville from my dwelling in Woodstock. It was my pleasure to hear the written stories of their childhood chores that included Jan picking boulders from the soil and placing them on a “stone boat” to be made into stone fences and allowed plants to flourish into sustainable crops or Jane helping to can with the ritual of sitting on the front porch in the shade at six years old peeling the just par- boiled tomatoes with a sister while sipping fresh lemonade.

The drive back on the thruway to Albany, New York and two flights back to Sarasota, Florida were long, but fortunately uneventful. Flights were smooth and luggage arrived on the carousel intact.

This is a quiet, reflective time before classes begin next week. Clients have waited for my return and we’ve already begun our sessions and I’m involved with their stories, always a pleasurable activity.

Harvesting memories is a phrase I heard mentioned in the Greenville class and traveling is just as much a mind time to harvest these memories and write about them.

If you want help with putting your stories into a book I’m just a phone call 941-359-3824 or e-mail away.