By Danielle French

Gatherings: Women Getting Together

Is it different when women get together versus men? Do women share in ways that are unique? I do believe there is a very special bond when women gather together. I have wonderful friends, friends that I see sometimes regularly and sometimes rarely. But it doesn’t matter the frequency it is most always a special experience and I believe one that rejuvenates us. We draw a certain amount of energy from each other, we talk about our lives in a meaningful way, truthfully sharing. There is most often something to problem solve and mull over – a child going through a difficult phase of life, a marriage is on the rocks, we ourselves are looking for new direction, we are celebrating an achievement, we are changing. I find now in mid life, most of my women friends are changing and embracing new phases, perhaps moving or looking for alternatives in how to lead their lives, new ways to be healthy or to enjoy our partnerships and efforts. Talking face to face in person is therapeutic, comforting and an act of sharing which I believe holds a critical place of human socialization in our lives.
Algonquin Park early morning
Since starting my business, I have increasingly felt less connected with my friends simply because I have not had time as much time as I would like to see anyone. Between raising my daughters and the chores of life plus the business it is often hard to get out from within my own world. I notice it more now – how much I value my friendships and times together and finding new companionship. Providing workshops here at the farm is one way I get to be part of women gathering together. Brides eager to find ways to spend time with their bridesmaids or the women of the family to create a centrepiece or hand dye ribbon for a bouquet. Craft is a wonderful way to gather together.

I offered a workshop last December and the women who visited had gathered together as a group on the same weekend every year for over 25 years. They made that weekend their sacred time together. Their parameters for the weekend were the same each year: they always took the entire weekend and stayed in a nearby lodge, played board games, shopped, drank wine and just simply visited. They also did a craft or activity. They came to me for lunch and a floral workshop and I felt honoured to be a part of their special time. I also couldn’t stop thinking about how in the busyness of life, they still made time for and prioritized each other.
Danielle French Gatherings
Friends meeting half way to join in wreath making
When my girls were small, I became friends with a group of women through pre-school, we all had children the same age. We met for coffee, regularly walked, shared child care, drank wine and visited cottages. One friend, Claire, suggested we do the walk for Breast Cancer in Toronto – a two day excursion. After all, we were pretty fit and it would be fun. It was fun (not sure how fit I was) and the experience took our friendship to more personal level. She also stated that she wanted our group to paddle the Nahanni river when she turned 50 but we should start out small like with a canoe trip in Algonquin Park. From then on every summer, our group followed our leader Claire and her sister Jane, on canoe trips some a bit more rigorous than we expected. I was nearly voted off the “island” as taking weekends in the summer became a bit of a struggle for me, getting busier each year but I always made it to opening night which was of course, the easy part as there was a roof, heat from the fire, and always great food and wine – and I left the hard part of paddling and portaging to them.
Claire and Jane on pick-up duty
Every gathering I have here at the farm, there are women getting together, meeting here from different places or simply taking the time out though living in the same town; mothers and daughters, friends and family. It is a change of scenery and possibly a sense of place for women to create something: baking bread, making jewellery or an arrangement, using their hands, getting out of the day to day and finding a simple place and quiet time. I love creating the backdrop for these gatherings. It is a backdrop that I can appreciate and relate to. We all yearn for time to connect, to learn and grow. Yet that time – we have less and less of it and it’s harder to make getting together actually happen. Claire turned 50 and we celebrated with her in London not on the Nahanni but there is always 60 or even 70. In the meantime, we’ll keep canoeing and hiking or simply enjoying a meal and our time together.


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