My first stop in upstate New York is a Best Buy where we buy a thirteen hundred dollar plasma TV. This is not what I expected in the land of Bob Dylan with the legacy of Woodstock. My host was very apologetic; the irony was not lost on her that I had eked out a couple hours of sleep on the transcontinental red-eye flight from California to wind up in the bumpin’ club party that is Best Buy at ten in the morning. However, this event was far from how the rest of Day One would play out. Events would soon reaffirm that I had indeed landed in the country of primordial hippydom.
After a perfunctory tour of the charming, turn-of-the-century farm house that is to be my home for the summer, the host (my boss) and friends strip down to bare skin and clamber into the doughboy pool in the back of the property. Enrique, the ever-diligent pool boy kindly whisks the bugs out of the pool and the damsels refresh. All this relaxing after a very dutiful June spent surfing, tanning and generally languishing in southern California paradise is starting to get to me and I’m itching to get to work. After rapid-fire questioning Enrique about who/what/where/how why are we here, he sits down with me at the dining room table and we get to work for the rest of the afternoon.
We have yoga class at 5:30 so at 5 on the dot I’ve got my clothes on and I’m ready to go. The rest of the crew rolls up to the farmhouse at 5:32 and along the way (even in our hurried and late state) everyone stops to pick wine berries along the road. We enter into the converted studio inside the mansion-crown jewel of the artist colony where we live. There is a fireplace at each end, weaving looms in the corner and a marble carving of the Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus. We arrive just in time to interrupt everyone’s meditation and ungracefully tip toe to our places across creaky floorboards that are over a century old.
Yoga is glorious. After a sleepless night and morning in an upright airplane chair my body thanks me for the thorough wring-out that is Iyengar yoga. The teacher is one of the bathing beauties from this morning. I smell the sent of really old wood and fresh air. Sunlight filters through the leaves of the trees and then through the skylight making everyone look golden. I stretch and my hand lands in a burrow of ancient spider webs. I look around at the empty shelves that are still labeled for the books that are long gone. The history of the room is hard to ignore in favor of meditation.
After class we enjoy wine and fresh picked berries on a wide lawn and watch the sunset on a mountainside. We bat gnats and bat more gnats. After dark the calmness evaporates and people retire to the music room to bang on the drum set sing “Cosmic Girl” and other disco favorites. They are competing with the band across the road rehearsing for tomorrow’s performance of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar”. It’s too much for me so I slip out and find my way through the woods back to my barn. I think about the black bear spotted yesterday and wonder if he’s eyeing me through the foliage. I see two yellow eyes. They’re blinking. I’m wondering if someone slipped me some inauguration hallucinogens when I realize the blinking eyes are fireflies; the fabled creature us West Coast kids only dream about. With the double drum sets pounding in the distance the fireflies around me and visions of nudists running through my head, it’s clear that I have arrived in Woodstock and the spirit of all it has meant to our culture waited for me.