Girls’ Camp 2009

Alright, so even though I brought my traveling easle, paints and a dessert to model for me, not to mention the many plein air views available, I didn’t pick up a brush. The weather was glorious and we spent all our time hiking during the day, cruising on the Cisco Chain, reading and sipping vodka at night. Holiday weekends are too short, period!
Our most notable walk was along Clark Lake in Sylvania in the waning hours of evening. the lake is surrounded by old growth forest, with hemlocks and white pines from 200 to 400 years old. It is parklike and quiet underneath, a spongy loam across which one barely discerns the trail, since there is no undergrowth to speak of. The fragrance of wood smoke from quiet campers adds the tincture of comfort to the spicey air. It was quiet, with no motors or jet skis.
My friend, Andrea (below) read to me from a novel called Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro, one of those “woman transforms herself with the assistance of good fashion advice and even better friends” stories that are so enjoyable on vacation. In include this quote as my literary submission for the weekend:
Since time began, women have sought after beauty with all the passion and vigour of Menelaus pursuing Helen into Troy and often with similarly violent results. And why shouldn’t they? Being beautiful has always been synonymous with owning the world on a string and what girl would not wish that?
Sadly, though, only God and nature can make a beautiful woman and, to be perfectly frank, most of us do not and never will fall into that exclusive category….I am of the philosophy that it is best to face the facts about oneself, especially the most unpleasant ones, early on in life and make peace with them, rather than to waste years in nervous agitation pursuing goals and expectations far beyond our reach.
Besides which, being beautiful is no guarantee of happiness in this world. I have known many beautiful women whose own inelegance and lack of breeding rendered them so hopelessly unattractive, that it would’ve been simpler and less painful for them if they had been born plain…And there is nothing more tragic than the sight of a badly ageing beauty who never had to develop her wit or imagination in order to amuse her companions or who always relied upon the excellence of her figure rather than the elegance of her clothes to make an impression. They are poor company….
While beauty, in its purest physical form, is nature’s gift to bestow, elegance, grace, and style are definitely more democratic. A little discipline and a discerning eye, along with a generous helping of good humour and effort, are all that’s needed to cultivate these admirable qualities. And a plain girl who spends a little time in honest self reflection and who applies herself with diligence to the improvement of her mind and character, will awake soon enough to discover that she has blossomed into a fully fledged swan. The time she spent alone and undistracted by the world will fortify her, the discipline she learnt will carry her into old age with grace and courage, and above all, she will possess compassion, which never fails to make a woman more attractive to those around her.
May we all be inspired to become compassionate, cultivated and courageous!

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