Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Time at Chautauqua

The setup for our meet and greet
I get a lot of free stuff, especially books, because of this blog. This stuff is sent to me with the understanding that I MIGHT write about it. I am clear, up front, that if I don't like it, I won't even mention it.  I am not out to turn Blisschick into a critical, product review sort of blog, so I have no interest in writing about things I do NOT like.  (And you will notice...I rarely write about anything because I am that picky for my readers!)

So when Chautauqua Institution contacted me about coming, expenses paid, to a two day blogger symposium, I a) knew what they were asking for and b) was more than happy to go along because this is a place that is near and dear to our hearts.  We would go anyway.  We have been going for years.

I am especially fond of the Institution during off-season for its quiet, and this early Spring, I chose to go there for my retreat, as you may recall.

The Athenaeum, location for our symposium
The symposium was interesting and informative and now I have a list of events that Marcy and I want to attend. (We will have to pay our own way for those!)

If you've never been to Chautauqua, check out their site. It's this indescribable university/salon*/spa/retreat/vacation that runs a nine week season, each week around a theme.

(*Using "salon" in the old way, of course, and not talking about some giant hair place! Giggle...)

As a virtual girl and a TED lover, I think, well, what's the point of driving somewhere and being around all those people?!  But the President of Chautauqua totally changed my mind about IRL!  HA!

The cute doors in our room

For one thing, being in front of actual people as you discuss ideas lends a depth that is almost impossible to get online.  Especially considering how easy it is to misunderstand people in this format. We lose so much information when we can't see people's faces or hear the tone of their voices.

Secondly, the grounds of Chautauqua are covered in Victorian houses and the charm of that era penetrates the overall experience.  It is quiet there so you can hear your own thoughts more clearly.  And there are big old trees that carry stories in their blowing branches.  The lake, though small for this Great Lakes girl, laps peacefully at the edges of the institution and the rhythm of the lake is definitely the rhythm of the place itself.

A lovely, spider like chandelier
Third, and very interesting to me, is that Chautauqua attracts some of the best and brightest from across all the performing and visual arts, from all over this country. We are going to see Chekhov's Three Sisters and Pink Martini, just for starters.  I also want to see something by their professional summer dance company.  High quality without the cost and mess and noise of really big cities.

Dessert the first night
The main thing about the Institution that sets it apart from, say, Disney or some other typical American family vacation, is that the moment you set foot on the grounds, you feel transported to another time, when things were simpler and slower and you could savor and contemplate ideas the same way you might savor and contemplate that yummy dessert above.  You walk on the grounds and immediately you know that you need a picnic blanket, a journal, and a good pen.


StorytellERdoc said...

From one CI fan to another, this was perfectly stated...I can' wait for the nine seasons to begin. I think we have concert tickets for three events and going strong! LOL


pauljessup said...

Still thinking about what my own blog post will be about. Although I def want to see the Chekhov play as well :)