Etiquette in Paradise
Pass the food to the left. Never sit in the same spot twice. And don’t be late to the table lest you miss the inspirational reading at the meal’s start.
These are the rules I learn on Sunday night at one of the harvest tables in a main lodge, similar to a simple country church. At The Clearing, the chatty chaos of mealtime has an undercurrent of civility that keeps things pleasant.
An orientation acquaints visitors with this pretty place. We wander toward the classrooms over flagstone paths, past mapleleaf viburnum and thimbleberry bushes, a reclaimed one-room cabin, knotty-pine dorms reminiscent of summer camp, unique stonework and ancient cedar trees.
The 30 of us split into classes. Subjects range widely each session: painting, yoga, quilting, Walt Whitman poetry, folk guitar, the Native American medicine wheel, woodworking.
The weekly schedule that orders The Clearing includes weekday classes with morning and afternoon sessions. Breakfast at 7:30 a.m., with hikes before on some days. Lunch at noon. Dinner at 6 p.m. Thursday picnics, with an afternoon free to follow, and Friday, a big show-and-tell talent show. I hear that can get a little rowdy.
During my visit, most people sign up for digital photography, but I choose a course in local geology, something completely removed from what I normally do.
OK, so some might call the subject boring, and I may have done the same before my visit. But this is the only class this week that takes place mostly in the idyllic Door County outdoors.
Plus, the instructor, geologist Roger Kuhns, looks a little like Patrick Swayze. So geology it is.