Mrs. Rifftides and I spent her birthday far from the madding crowd–and from blogging. We arrived at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat just after a hundred or so conferees had checked out. The sixty-seven enchanted acres on Icicle Creek in the foothills of the
Cascades were almost exclusively ours for a day and night. Winter–several feet of it–was still evident on the peaks above us, but down below we had spring and no obligations.
We wandered the paths, played horseshoes (badly), climbed the hills among clumps of yellow flowers, briefly tested the elliptical trainer in the exercise room, and had a world-class dinner. The entrée was ono, the fish whose name means “delicious” in Hawaiian, brilliantly prepared by the young chef Rene Nuňez. From our table at the Kingfisher Dining Lodge, we had the unexpected treat of seeing Sleeping Lady’s founder and grande dame, Harriet Bullitt, alight from the cable tram that carries her over the creek between her house and the retreat. Later, Mrs. R and I chatted for an hour in the Grotto Bar over a Three Rivers syrah. Back in our room, rustic in its three-star way, we drifted off to sleep to a bullfrog serenade from the pond next door.
There is no television in the rooms at Sleeping Lady. Smoking is not allowed inside or out. Good. Background music at breakfast included recordings by Oscar Peterson, Kenny Burrell and a pretty good trumpet player with a Harmon mute (Sal Marquez?) imitating Miles Davis.
We would rather have done without it. The music intruded on the nature that surrounded us. We were glad to leave it behind, stroll along the creek and see the morning sun illuminate
Dale Chihuly’s nine-foot glass sculpture, “Icicle,” mounted atop a boulder. One does not need music every hour of the day. I remember once asking Jim Hall, “What are you listening to these days?” “Silence,” he said. Bravo. Nearly three years ago, we had a Rifftides discussion about the virtues of silence. To read it, click here.
Before we crossed the Cascades for home, we shopped amid the kitschy Bavarian charm of the village of Leavenworth. An hour was enough.
Back at my desk, I’m facing deadlines for three pieces of work that, as of today, are officially overdue. That means blogging will have to take a back seat for a while. Until it resumes, please check out the archive. You’ll find the link to it in red, in the center column.