I took an unofficial break from my official tour in Woodstock, New York. Little did I know that I had picked the one place in the country that seemed wholly crafted, from its geology to its local culture, to be the perfect retreat. Janie took me in for a few days and gave me the best overview of Woodstock I could ever hope for.
I sat on a small, round pillow with my legs crossed. My eyes were shut, and I was examining the little spots behind my eyelids, wondering,
“Is this meditating? Am I meditating right now?
Egg and cheese sandwich.
DAMN! Start over. Okay.
Am I meditating now?”
Across from me, incense burned in front of an impressive, guilded gold shrine covering the entire wall. To my left, three Tibetan buddhist monks were chanting incantations from sacred scrolls. Their voices weaved in and out, sometimes falling into a low-hum common rhythm, sometimes falling back out into rambling cacophony, then whispers that carried me away, then a loud CLANG! One fellow had large cymbals that he’d smack together just as I was beginning to relax. Another had a drum that he hit to punctuate the breath he took between phrases. The third guy, the head monk, had no instrument.
We were high in the mountains, and as we left the monastery, I could hear birds chirping, a gentle breeze, and nothing else.
Janie and I explored trails, old streams and waterfalls. We had THE BEST PANCAKES IN NEW YORK (or quite possibly, ON THE EAST COAST, or IN THE COUNTRY, or dare I say… IN THE WORLD!) at Sweet Sue’s in Phoenicia. Janie introduced me to Krause’s Candy Store, and I stocked up on some truly excellent chocolate. I took time to catch up on my notes and spy on deer while swimming in the outdoor pool.