This weekend, I drove about three and half hours upstate to the “Cry of the Loon” lodge, for the annual Creative Writing department September retreat (and, this is the second to last retreat EVAH, which is sad). The cabins were right on the lake: i.e., the lake was mere steps away, unlike my family’s cabin in Canada, where the lake is located down a perilous slope. Minnesota is, famously, the land of a thousand lakes (with more than a thousand lakes, as any native will tell you). But one thing I always think: gosh, the lakes here are small. I mean, in Canada, “our” lake (the lake the cabin is on — I’m aware we don’t own it) stretches, to turn a phrase, “as far as the eye can see.” You can always see the end of lakes in Minnesota; some of them seem to barely merit the title. Makes you long for larger bodies of water, unapologetic vastness — like, I don’t know, the ocean?

Which isn’t to say it wasn’t bizarrely, absurdly pretty up there. The leaves are starting to turn; the weather was alternatively wet and bright, but never cold; the sky was clear — I thought I saw some Northern Lights, but they turned out to be clouds (I have yet to see the Northern Lights — I always miss them, or they turn out to be clouds).

As for the “loonies,” well, any trip with so many writers is bound to have its share of shenanigans. In the interest of not incriminating myself or others, I will remain silent. It was pretty, though.