By Martha Reed
I belong to the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime and I’m starting to think we have some funky mojo going when it comes to scheduling our events and running into freakish weather.
Last January, during our Hallie Ephron Workshop, a surprise blizzard blew into Pittsburgh exactly one hour before the event was scheduled to begin. An ice storm blasted Western Pennsylvania the day of our Holiday Luncheon this year and just last weekend – after months and months of planning – our Writers Retreat featuring special guest teacher and moderator Ramona Long was situated in Confluence, PA, which if you’ve been watching the news was Ground Zero for the snowmelt flooding on the Yachagheny river on Saturday.
(Of course, if you’re really clever, you’re wondering why a group of reasonably intelligent writers overlooked the meaning behind the word Confluence but we’ll let that one pass.)
What can I tell you? I know I was the last person driving into Confluence on Saturday morning at 8:15 AM before the roads were closed. Some folks expressed a little dismay at my decision but I knew my Sibling crew was still at the Retreat house and there was no way I was going to let them have all the fun without me!
After being reassured the house was safe, we soldiered on with our writing discussions and workshop sessions although I have to admit it was a little tough to focus on the discussion at hand when I could see the water rising in the yard outside – and I mean see it rise in front of my eyes, not just notice that the river was creeping in. There was a square white No Hunting sign posted on a tree on the opposite side of the river and as I worked to develop an effective pitch for my new novel the sign disappeared underwater. It gave me pause for thought. The Retreat house was situated between an active freight line and the river and whenever a train went by - and it went by often - the engineer would point at us and laugh. I wasn’t reassured by his gesture.
But all in all, there was a surprising sense of camaraderie and lots of delicious food, and Ramona led the discussions brilliantly and exercised tough love when necessary and I think we call came out of the weekend feeling invigorated and exhausted all at the same time. The true test of success will be when we schedule our next Retreat – I’m betting that everyone at the Retreat this past weekend will be the first ones to sign on again.
We stopped in Ohiopyle (Guess what that word means!) on our way home to observe the usually reasonable Falls. On Sunday it sounded like Niagara. Have a listen, and try to imagine living next to that much live water for 48 hours. It was awe-some and inspiring and I can’t wait to do it again.