Retreat to the Provincial, Chief, Michigan

Do you ever go on retreat? 

…you know to get away from everything, even the idea of vacation? Do you ever just leave home and go out into the wild where you can expose yourself? I mean your authentic self, the part of you that wants to be free?

Everyone ought to have a chance and a place where they can step out of the stream of their day to day and take time to discover what their heart and soul truly desire. 

Monday morning Kestrel, my youngest son and I set off in the Prius north to The Provincial, an art studio/artist retreat created, curated and gently loved into existence by Melanie Parke and Richard Kooyman.

Their home and studios are about 2 hours north of Grand Rapids and an hour south of Traverse City – just a fifteen-minute drive to Lake Michigan. They are surrounded by fields of lush grass, and stately pines. They use the space as a residence, work studio, curatorial for their favorite artists and retreat space for emerging artists to create uninterrupted by life’s usual distractions.

When we arrived, we were greeted with warm hugs by Richard and Mel and ushered into the main studio filled with bright beautiful paintings some recently completed and a few still in progress. Soon after we were sitting on the screen porch drinking wine and snacking on fresh local strawberries from the local farmers market. 

We ate a dinner of linguini topped with fresh asparagus and mushrooms, skillfully prepared by Richard, paired with a nice white wine. We talked over dinner and into the evening…until we all wore ourselves out. Kestrel and I then made our way to the guest house and slipped into the freshly made beds and into a deep sleep.

The next morning, Kestrel and I ate a small breakfast on our own and then met Melanie on the screen porch where I led us all in a sweet yoga class.

Afterward, we drove into Manistee to see Richard’s art showing at the Ramsdell Theatre. The historic building dates back to 1903 and has been well-preserved. It continues to be a source of entertainment and support for the arts in the area. We toured the main theatre which has an original fly system where the backdrops are lifted above the stage area on pulleys…very cool. Then we went to the gallery to see Richard’s show. His paintings are epic and colorful, each demanding centerpiece status. 

Then we returned to the Provincial and guest house, packed a picnic lunch and headed for Onekama and the Lake Michigan shore. The water level was so high, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to find a spot on the beach to picnic, but we did. The sky and water were magnificent and after munching on our turkey sandwiches, we all three lounged in the sun and read from the books we brought along. It was all rest and relaxation, a super sweet afternoon.

We followed up our beach visit with champagne on the back porch and another wonderful dinner created by Richard. The lively conversation took us into nightfall and we all found our beds for a much-needed rest. 

Day three, I began with my posting a weekly blog on Soul Set in Motion and then  Kestrel and I drove five miles into Onekama to check out a local coffee shop where we could both work on our projects. Just as we were parking the car, Kestrel looked down at his lap and exclaimed, “Oh my god, my drawing notebook and Surface Pro tablet!” I put them on top of your car when I was taking your picture! 

He got out and looked at the back end of the car, but of course, they were gone. I put the car in gear, did a quick u-turn in the middle of town and sped off from whence we came. 

Tune in next time to find out what happened to Kestrel’s precious items…

til next time

Tracy, a girl on her own


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