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As I write, it's another snowy day in Door County. But I'm also paging through the freshly published Björklunden catalog, dreaming of spending a week at the beautiful Bailey's Harbor retreat, where week-long adult education seminars take place all summer long. Bjorklunden's Lodge. Björklunden Vid Sjön, which means "birch forest by the water," is the full name of the lakeside retreat, and ir gives you an idea of the tranquility that awaits. The 325-acre property was purchased by Carleton and Winifred Vail in 1928 , and was their summer home for many years. After Carleton's untimely death, Winifred married again, and during the years of WWII she and her husband Donald Boynton built a Norweigan-style stavekirk chapel by hand as an homage to peace. Visitors are welcome at Björklunden in the summer months, when tours of the chapel and grounds are led by knowledgeable volunteers. The Chapel at Bjorklunden. Lawrence University acquired the property in 1974, and built a lodge with classrooms, dormitory rooms, and a gigantic stone fireplace.. During the school year, Björklunden hosts student and faculty groups from Lawrence, and the summer and fall months are full of seminars for adult learners, with titles as diverse as "The Psychology of Romance," "Mushrooms: The Third Kingdom," and "Exploring Mozart's Don Giovanni." Classes on writing, history, photography, painting, nature, and politics are available for the choosing. Björklunden even hosts "Tri-tone Jazz Fantasy Camp," a seminar for jazz musicians who work under some of the finest improvisational artists in the country. Class in the main lodge. I had the good fortune to spend a week at Björklunden last fall, when I studied poetry with former Wisconsin poet laureate Marilyn Taylor. It was a dream come true! Great teaching, motivated and fascinating fellow students, and oh, did I mention the food? Björklunden residents are served three meals a day, including swedish pancakes at breakfast, delicious homemade soups and sandwiches at lunch, and mouthwatering dinners featuring fresh, local ingredients like whitefish and seasonal veggies. Lest you start to burst your buttons during your week's residency, there are miles of woodland trails to hike and rocky beaches to explore.
Suzanne Rose, a Door County artist who teaches a yearly photography seminar at Björklunden, has this to say about the experience: In my seminar titled Poetry of Place: a photographic experience, participants can let their everyday lives melt away and immerse themselves 100% into the work making fine art photography while enjoying the breathtaking beauty of Door County. Be it out on field trips or in the classroom, the staff sees to our every need. We work from dawn until almost dusk everyday but all of our focused creativity is rewarded with delicious hand made meals and sweets. The spacious accommodations with make rising before dawn feel effortless. By the end of the week our photographic momentum has reach a fever pitch - rarely does anyone want to go home and leave the bliss of Björklunden behind.
Registration for Rose's seminar and dozens of others is now open. Many classes fill quickly, so sign up soon. In the meantime, sit back and daydream of the birch trees swaying in the summer breeze. What's your summer fantasy getaway in Door County?
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