We’re escaping the continuing New England storms, by driving straight for our friend’s farm in Western Pennsylvania.
We get in the car in the rain, sad that we have lost our plans to the weather. We have lost days at this wonderful resort, swimming and dancing to the bands, also a bluegrass/blues fest, my dream of decades to visit Thoreau’s Walden Pond. Even more than those, spending more time with our free ranging New England friends.
Our feelings are less a new adventure and more an escape, like some kind of naked refugees from a flood, crossing the waters to wash up in the warm sunshine.
Much of the American wealth comes this way. Making our way on the back country roads to the highways, we come across this.
We make our way across Connecticut through that upper section of the American megalopolis and insurance behemoths.
The turnpike and facilities are well done, we make good time through Pennsylvania, taking just a few short breaks, slipping on kilt and sundress. A Great Lake and a million trees pass by soon enough.
When we finally pull up at our friend’s organic back to the land habitat, the day is waning. We are directed to park over by the barn driving over the freshly mowed lawn. It is still disconcerting to me to drive on people’s lawns!
He is out getting his chainsaw together. She looks into the car and seeing naked us, says, “Cute” and then grinning “look at you.” We are welcomed as ourselves.
In Arizona, we might be met by her in similar outfit, but here, we are told, there is family dropping in with different sensibilities.
After hugs, we are given the blessing to dress as we please, they’ll let us know. We are in bare feet in this plush fresh lawn, sunshine, and the smells of country living. We couldn’t be more pleased to wash ashore here.
He appears and greets us. He is a guy who we see when he comes to Tucson each winter for a vacation. That’s how we know him. Here, he is busy helping neighborhood relatives to harvest hay for the horses. He will be in and out during our stay.
We are shown our guest house quarters, a little transferred office with a porch, raw wood and a flower box under the window. It has its ambiance and a serene view of a spring fed pond. We walk past some lawn chairs and over to the little dock for the gorgeous swimmin’ hole. Again, we cross the luxuriant grass. The trees are a green wall bordering the water in the distance, which is reflected in the calm waters. A frog jumps in from some reeds. I realize that I may be hanging out here a bit, if not falling in love with the idyllic charm of my surroundings.
We like the barn. In the front yard, a huge maple tree dwarfs the two story house. It is shading the entire home. There is charm and quality in the custom woodwork of the house and the barn. He is a talented carpenter, the one who I helped erect my Tortolita sweat. It arose from the uneven foundation hastily created from leftover cement pours. The foundation had been designed for a strawbale wall, not a functioning square and plumb post and roof. His talents are evident all over this place.
We take a naked walk to the woods. Just getting our bearings, we enter under a dark canopy. We find an outhouse and a former driving trail leads around the pond. Maybe later.
In the buildings, I browse the memorabilia displayed, chronicling a life well spent with friends and family. At dinner and tea, we talk “Tucson” and back to the land. He explains how he was raised here, then left during youth and early manhood to find something else. He later returned to farming with a twist to what he was raised with. The food has been healthy, the kids are alright, he has shared the support of friends and family and contributed to his spiritual leanings. He is in his element.
In the evening air, I stand naked at the edge of wild nature on the lawn. I watch the multitudes of stars above. All around me, there are tiny lanterns floating around. These fireflies are more fairy-like that others that we have seen on this trip. They tend to glow longer in a white light, some appear almost as beams. They are not shy, flying close, above and far. We’re all feeling peaceful.
One day, I’m invited to play farmer a little. There’s a flat tire on the old dependable baler. It felt good to participate a little. There is a good life here. DF smirks at my enthusiasm. I have helped by placing a pin in a slot to connect machinery. Not enough to qualify as a farmer.
The next couple of days are spent skinny-dipping in the pond and hanging out. We are still slow to get acquainted with what we perceive as cold water.
We sit and talk and catch up in the sun. We find pleasure in helping out a little here and there. The blue berry patch needs a hand, draping netting over it. Our agility keeps nude bodies unscathed by the patch of thorns.
There is a lot of admiring things in the pure enjoyment of the garden, the loft, or touches like the farm implements turned into flower planters.
I am reminded of the movie Easy Rider, as they wandered New Mexico. How the city smart young man, admired the values of the family farmer and the communal people. Here too, is a lesson in values.
Walks down the country lane are a time to be alert for neighbors, who pass on occasion. It is a sundress, kilt affair mostly, but one hot afternoon walking back from the fields, we dropped the coverings before getting back. Nobody coming, sound being heard for a distance, nobody surprised, free range naturism in the heartland. The afternoon’s walk interrupts only deer.
I wake up to another beautiful day, and take my walk outside on the lawn, a little prayer, meditation and stretch.
Then, guitar seems just right, pond side.
Across the way, I hear the sound of what might be a large bullfrog repeating its rhythmic song. After a while he has apparently discovered the wrong type of attention. I hear the squawk of a large bird. There is a commotion. I don’t know how the tustle came out by the sound of it, but later, I hear again, the call of a bullfrog.
There have been wonderful orange flowers all over the east. They were identified as tiger lilies.
They are something that I don’t remember about “back east.” I was told that I could eat them, and investigation shows me how wonderful that taste is. There is a bed of them by me. I’m tempted to have a few to many, but as to be impolite, I don’t. At the later meal, I find the garden fresh salad decorated by them.
One afternoon, I’m sitting in the dining room chatting, when a car drives up. It is his daughter. She’s here to pick up a few things. As she comes in the front door, I time my exit out the back, walk around the bushes and head for the guest house and my kilt. I come across DF out in the yard and give her notice.
My host is there also. “Don’t worry, no problem.”
I come back, wrapped in my kilt anyway, to be introduced. She greets me with, “Been swimming?” Yep, it would have been fine to ignore conventional behavior.
When I made a point to come here, I didn’t know how idyllic of a place I was coming to. I had heard of the Ashram-like outpost near and that had my curiosity. On the last day, we make the drive through the countryside. I am shown the layout, the artifacts and accommodations. It is down in a creek valley.
One of the prayer stations is built around a pair of large boulders, a unique place. I look for the energy here.
I wander off to the edge of the clearing, where there is a stand of trees.
There, I find a number of large flat rocks. It is as though they are gathered in the presence of another taller rock. I sense what is here.
I figure that this was once a gathering place for the Native Americans. There is definite energy here. I ask what is known about what I found. Sure enough, this was a gathering place. The guru knew this and that rock in the building is there because of its energetic properties. This place will graciously preserve this magic. I felt validated. There is a grey line between imagination and sense. It feels good to confirm sense. It is good to know that a different linage shares and respects another.
The rain is coming. This afternoon, I have a friend in Michigan that I want to see before he has to leave to visit relatives down south. We’re on the road again.
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