Journal Writing at Seth’s Cottage

Wright Inspired Accessories at Seth Peterson Cottage on Mirror Lake, Wisconsin

Writing by Lamp Light © 2011 Bo Mackison

I spent several hours writing by the light cast from this small lamp while I was staying at the Seth Peterson Cottage. Whenever I paused, I could look out the many windows and gaze at Mirror Lake, which wasn’t much of a “mirror” while I was there. It had a slate gray appearance that evening, no resemblance to a reflective mirror.

While I was there, I photographed some of the details of the interior. These particular photos do not show the rooms so much as the accessories in the rooms. (In the next and final post on Seth’s Cottage I’ll include photographs from the individual rooms.)

I also wrote and sketched in my journals while I was there. A few excerpts follow:

Flickering Fire, Fireplace designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Seth Peterson Cottage

Flickering Fire © 2011 Bo Mackison

A lesson learned from lighting the fire. When lighting a fire with a full box of matches at your disposal, one doesn’t pay much attention to the number of matches it takes. If the fire doesn’t start with the first two or three matches, just keep trying until the fire catches. But when there are only six matches in the only box of matches, one plans carefully for the lighting of the logs. The kindling is laid just so, I stuff a bit of paper between the twigs for a bit of insurance, choose the smaller logs from the woodpile outside. Lots of planning goes on before I strike the first match.

I think of an analogy, comparing the starting a fireplace fire to caring for the earth. While the natural resources of the earth seem inexhaustible, there seems little need to use the resources wisely–lots of matches in the box to start the warming fire. But when the resources become threatened, endangered, the prudent thing to do would be to use them wisely, carefully, with great planning–don’t want to run out of matches before the logs are burning.

Star Floor, Radiant Floor Heating System, Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Seth Peterson Cottage

Radiant Star Floor © 2011 Bo Mackison

I spent way too much time trying to find patterns and pictures in the random lines of the flagstone floor. Above is my interpretation of a “radiant” star — radiant because underneath these flagstone slabs are hot water pipes that provide floor heating. There were also pennies embedded in several cracks. I fully intended to get down on my hands and knees and check out the dates on the coins, but I never did find a flashlight and the areas were rather dimly lit.

From my journal:

I am quite loving this hard stone floor. Not because it is a comfy surface to stand upon in stocking feet, but because it is toasty warm. Even though it has dropped to the low 40s and will probably hit 35˚F by early morning, the warm floor is quite special in that it is so unexpected. There are no rugs, only this unending expanse of carefully matched stone slabs.

It is so quiet. Now, nearly six in the evening, and the skies are dark with heavy, threatening rain clouds. I expected to see and hear birds, but the birds are silent. There is no radio, no television, no neighbors, no motor boats on the “no motor” lake, no internet. It is quiet, except for the popping of the fire and the occasional  cloud burst.

One gets lulled by the quiet. I intend to write, but instead I find myself passing long periods of time watching the logs burn, watching the raindrops plop in the puddles on the back stone patio, listening for sounds that don’t exist. We have learned to live in a noisy world, and often pay little attention to the constant background noises that surround us. But when there are no sounds, only silence, then I notice the silence.

I hear the silence.


This is the second part of a three-part series written and photographed while I stayed at the Seth Peterson Cottage.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Marcie says:

    Your journal writing is absolutely beautiful. I can hear the silence right along with you..and imagine you sitting there by the light of the small lamp taking it all in. Wonderful and inspiring work. Keep it up!!!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I loved sitting in the darkness, with just the illumination from this small lamp and the fire. It was quite the experience.

  2. Joanne Keevers says:

    I agree with Marcie, your journal writing is just beautiful. I especially love how you say “I hear the silence”. Thank goodness I’m not crazy, because I absolutely love to listen to the silence! I have also discovered that not everyone does, and I feel quite privileged in doing so. 🙂

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks, Joanne. It’s a privilege these days to be in a place where the silence is almost deafening. I found the desert a place for silence, and then found it again in this Wright cottage. It was amazing.

  3. Gandalf says:

    I love the photo of the fire and fireplace. I can never get anything to burn well except those fake logs. So I guess I also admire your ability to start a fire in the hearth. 🙂

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Fake logs, hmm? If you want you can make an appointment–I;ll teach you how to build a fire. I had lots of Girl Scout fire-starting practice as a kid and adult.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed your reflective journal writings. The photos are fabulous and I especially like the 1st and 2nd images as they make me feel reflective. Great post!

  5. As others have already commented, your journal writing is beautiful. Having that time at Seth’s Cottage was quite a gift. 🙂

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Yes, a lovely gift. I’m thinking about checking the reservation site again–it would be lovely there in winter!

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