From Summer to Snow

It has been a true pleasure to host Paula Carter as our artist-in-residence for 2018. She’s brought together a great deal of community during her tenure on the Island and contributed to warmth of hotel over the last few months. Here is her last update as her residency comes to a close this week. If you would like to more information about our artist-in-residence for 2019, please email us.

On my last morning in my little cabin behind Hotel Washington, I woke up to find the trees I’ve been gazing at for the last three months covered in snow. It felt like a fitting end – change in my life mirroring the change in the weather.

I primarily write nonfiction and often things happen in real life that if put into fiction wouldn’t be believed. If one of my students wrote a story about a woman who moved to an island in the height of summer and then ended her time there on the first day of snow, my critique would be that it was contrived. Too easy. But alas, I found myself packing my car as huge, gorgeous flakes fell steadily around me.

It caused me to reflect on the seasons I have been witness to: a warm, sun-soaked late summer with regular trips to the beach, a wet fall with walks in the brightly colored woods, and now winter with calm and quiet like a cathedral.

As each of these seasons progressed, I became familiar with increasingly more people who call Washington Island home, all of whom were unique and shared with me a piece of themselves: an economics professor who is also a playwright, a woman who spent years fighting for equality in hiring practices at large companies in Chicago, an anthropologist who is also a goat farmer, a painter who is also an art therapist, a ferryman who writes affectionately about the people of the island; and of course, Jeannie Kokes, the owner of Hotel Washington, a philanthropist who is also a friend, an athlete who is also an expert in hospitality, someone concerned with the state of our world and so finding a way to make a difference in her own community.

I came here to get good work done in my writing. And I did; one of the things I wrote while here was published in USA Today. But what I’ll take with me as I leave is much more than my own words.

It has been a true pleasure to be the inaugural artist-in-residence at Hotel Washington.