Oranbega Retreat Center

For All Artists & Pilgrims

Staff Portrait: Diane Phipps

Last month we got a sense of Spence. This month we say “I can” with Diane.  

Our Coordinator of Hospitality, Diane Phipps, is the very epitome of a “Can Do” person. She approaches everything with a positive attitude and knows how to get things done. Her major role at Oranbega is to oversee the provision of good nutritious and delicious food for our guests. (Tonight’s dinner was chicken baked in parchment paper with vegetables and sweet potatoes. Opening the parchment was like opening a beautifully aromatic birthday present!)

Diane cares not only for humans but for all living things. The ducks and ravens love her! And her plant room is a wonderful place to relax and thrive with the green growing things she nurtures.

She is also a great seamstress, and our Office is in part her Sewing Room.

And, of course thanks to Diane, our first guest (as well as every subsequent one!) has a beautiful room ready to welcome her; in this case, The River Room. 

If that were all not enough, she can write too! Here are two short poems by Diane Barnett Phipps, as they appeared in the journal Trillium some years ago:

Extra Virgin

Small round globes
Ripened by the sun
Hang on an ancient tree.
Who can know the moment
Of perfect ripeness?
Who can know the exact pressure
To break the skin
But not crush the fruit?
The old man
Hands gnarled as the tree
Decides the time
Sets the stones
Bottles the oil.


That wonderful color
Only tasted in rainbows
Bursts forth
In graceful clusters.
The wind
Honey scent
In every corner
Of the garden.

Diane’s poems will also be posted on our Facebook page this month. As April is Poetry Month, we will be posting a poem almost every day for the rest of the month.  Along with Diane’s, we will post some of the work of our Retreat Director, Jenny Reece, under her pen name of Amy Aberdeen.  We will also share work from the former owner of our beautiful house, Clarine Coffin Grenfell, whose life and work we will celebrate later this year. We are also actively seeking the poetry of other writers, where we can get permission.