Thursday, September 22, 2011
Penland School of Crafts, free with tuition
I'm currently at Penland, a craft school tucked into the mountains of eastern North Carolina, attending a week-long educators' retreat. There's 100 of us here to teach and learn and we're free to drift from one well-equipped studio to another whenever we feel the urge, 24 hours a day.
Have you ever seen one of those competitions where someone gets two minutes to dash around a grocery store throwing whatever they can into a cart? That's me at craft camp. I start the day by attending a few demos, then do a little woodturning or waxwork or soldering, then there's a debate or discussion about teaching, and finally I wind down for the night by blowing glass or flameworking until 2 or 3am. Then I'm up at 7 to start over.
Each day it gets a little harder to wake up, but I have one alarm clock I can't fling across the room or smother with a pillow: my growling stomach.
Luckily, the kitchen has my back, churning out huge quantities of yummy fuel. Sometimes there's a meal theme, and sometimes there's even a theme dessert. I'd already piled my plate high with beans and guacamole when I became giddy at the sight of a huge flan at the end of the buffet, plump and glistening like a beached seal in a puddle of caramel sauce. It was as good as any I ever had in Mexico and I slurped it down at a picnic bench, watching dusk fall over the foggy nooks and crannies of the neighboring mountains.
And then I went back to work.