Laity Lodge is a retreat center in the Hill Country of Texas, and I just had the enormously rewarding privilege of spending a week of solitary writing there. (More solitary than would be the norm, because it’s closed for renovation — I was staying in a house near the edge of the property.)
Laity Lodge is situated just below the headwaters of the east fork of the Frio River, and you can only get to the lodge by driving in the river — yes, in it, along a limestone shelf where the river is just a few inches deep.
And if that worries you — well, first of all, it shouldn’t, but if you’re still doubtful, here’s the kind of view you get when you arrive:
The whole area is astonishingly beautiful — and because the place is closed, after my host Gate Davis showed me around I didn’t see another person until I headed back into civilization.
After that first gorgeous day, it rained pretty much constantly during my visit — a rare thing in that part of the world — but though that limited my freedom to explore, and kept me from walking as much as I wanted to, it had the benefit of keeping me in the house writing. And my hosts had provided me with plenty of firewood, so with a fire in the fireplace and the rain pattering on the roof I had a perfect environment for work.
I am very grateful to the H. E. Butt Foundation. You people have created something really special. And so long, Laity Lodge, till we meet again, next June, when I’ll be leading a retreat there, in the newly renovated buildings, with my friends Jamie Smith and Claire Holley. Till then, so long —