EDITOR’S NOTE: My wife, Mary, and I recently had a retreat on the Mendocino Coast at an eco-resort called the Stanford Inn. The inn is run by a remarkable couple, Jeff and Joan Stanford, and Jeff is not joking when he lists the priorities of the inn: animals first, staff second, and guests third. That means the resort grounds and gardens are certified organic, the dining is entirely vegan, the staff are passionate about what they do, and if you want milk for your coffee, bring it! A lifelong paddler, I spent hours in the boathouse on the river with the boatman learning the fine points of their redwood outrigger canoes—arguably the best couples canoeing experience one is going to find. I also asked Joan about the heart of the resort, and she took me to her play shop. She wrote this explanation, which really does get to the heart of the retreat.