Bald Mountain Retreat


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it is a place where you cannot help but see
floating immersed
amidst the green quiet
like a turtle at the bottom of the pond

the unbroken spell of the wild
turns to a deeper self
a world alive
hills skip
mountains leap
trees raise their voices
the stone on which you sit
imparts a seamless revelation

here away is remembering
putting together
fragments made whole
fractal clouds
spinning constellations
what is it that the wind is saying?
what babbles the brook?

the height allows no coming down
no after
but continuous awakening
and unfettered dream
the unencumbered epiphany of now

below the surface wide currents flow
behind the veil of becoming lies the immensity of being

I could promise you less


about us

we're a home, not a hotel
it's like going to visit
your dear brother and sister-in-law
or aunt and uncle
or the kids
if they had a house off-road
in the backwoods of Vermont
my buddy, Chris, who showed me this land
having wandered it
growing up on Mad Brook Farm
the (now former) commune just down the road and mountain a ways
commenting about a certain house along Lake Willoughby said
"people come up from Connecticut and build houses just like there are in Connecticut"
Farley Mowat wrote in his book, The Siberians (not my favorite of his)
about the simplicity of their country homes, dachas
rustic and plain
how they leave the city behind
and how they complained when they came to America
about our bringing our city ways and things to the country
bringing our city/suburban homes to the country
we are what up here they call a "camp"
off-grid we make our own electricity with a "whisper-quiet" Honda generator
but prefer candles and lamplight for illumination
electricity is a wonderful thing
but like most wonderful things in our culture
we use too much
we are excessive in our consumption
your cell-phone might not work
but you can make calls and check your email on our high-speed internet connection
although, internet and phone seem a lot less important up here in the woods
here again, as a culture we are obsessive
most everyone just lets the messages go for a day or three
truth is it's great to watch guests shed the hustle and bustle still clinging to them when they arrive
and let the quiet and peace seep in
the flatlands become more distant
as the mountains and meadow become more immediate
now, I like to talk as much or more than most
still I like to think that I know when to be quiet
I've seen the change, the quiet come over people here
some sooner than others
the nervous energy dissipates
it just seems that there's less need to talk and more reason to listen
to the wind, the quiet
or the occasional story about life in these parts
people are changed
like the fellow who was a lot quieter coming down Bald (Mountain)
after spending time in the fire-tower
than he was going up
meditative as opposed to chatty
less of that illusory self
I actually wanted to talk
but as I say, I know when to keep quiet

we are being in the woods without camping
the luxuries we have are natural
not the kind you buy in a store
we have plenty of convenient, easy living
when people ask, "How close is the nearest store?"
I respond, "That depends how you count"
there is a great country store and deli (but no town) 3 miles away down on Willoughby
10 mile in the other direction is the strange, frontierish village of Island Pond
on the edge of Vermont's northeast wilderness
in winter you're as likely to see snowmobiles running down its main (and only street) as cars
there is a country market there
but the first supermarket is 20 plus miles away in Newport
a stone's throw from the Canadian border
(stop at White's Market in Lyndonville on your way up for what you need or want)

what we lack in shopping convenience
we make up for in hospitalities
including our own stock of food
we are very accommodating hosts
and the place is built for guests
we are here to provide for you
to keep you comfortable
to guide and to entertain
don't get me wrong, independence is encouraged
private time for reflection and meditation is a big part of the retreat
still we are here to serve you
not like hotel staff
but in a homey, family way
Bald Mountain Retreat is our home
and we'd like to share it with you

while I am able and do provide instruction in formal meditation
I am quick to point out that this place is a meditation
the property, the environment, the atmosphere is conducive to meditation
people sitting on the first floor couch
looking out over the meadow, ridge and beyond
get a tranquilized look in their eyes
you can see their brainwaves deepening and slowing
the Boston doctor said, "you should paint this view"
and I thought, "I just have to look out the window(s)"
someone responding to my characterization of the place as "paradise"
volunteered after his first week here,
"I know what you mean now, but you can't put it into words"

our private road continues up the mountain to our lodge
one half mile up past the end of the town-maintained road
there, where Mad Brook Farm ends, the retreat property begin
(but you have to look hard to find the boundaries between ours and the surrounding wilderness)
in this least populated area of the least populated state
(true, Wyoming spreads its people out over a lot more geography)
that's seclusion

then there's bathing
we prefer you wait until the sun has heated our solar water system
(usually mid morning) rather than using the propane-heated shower
I bathe in the pond
it's all pure spring water
much cleaner than what's coming out of your faucet
Europeans make fun of Americans' "need" to shower every day
truth is you just don't get as dirty up here as you do down there
you'll see
...and we're working on a sauna




night's charcoal darkness
made blacker by an overcast sky
it is impossible to say
if it is still snowing

but here in these moments before dawn
spread across the meadow
like a ragged blanket
lies our first snow

collected on evergreen bough and naked branch
coating roofs and piles of lumber
glowing eerily and dim
improbably illuminated
by a waning crescent moon
itself invisible above the clouds

now with daybreak
these few flakes against the window
extend farther and away
intensity increasing
until the air
is all ablizzard

the cloud
draping over the ridge
concealing the forest beyond the edge of the field
low enough to touch
turns bright

and as it was obscured by night
so now the world's obscured by white

and I am left wondering
like Chuang Tzu and the butterfly
whether the storm renewed itself at dawn
or just came into view

if the snow falls in the forest
and there's no one there to see it
does it still make a storm?




the first light drops of rain
fall onto the roof
tapping upon the steel
almost imperceptibly
splashing nearly silent
against the windows

wood burning in the stove
rumbles softly
as if a very distant thunder
with muffled hisses, crinkles and pops

it all begins in silence

on a morning like this
it is easy to appreciate
the sound of no fly buzzing




the eye rejoices
looking northwest across the valley
towards a mountaintop
aflame with the sun's first rays

a radiant crown
worshipfully observed
royalty distantly glimpsed
thick and orange
(like the first tongues of fire
starting kindling in this stove)
spreading downhill
like honey thinning in the warmth

now rapidly engulfed in that descending heat
vast stands of naked trees
glow reddish-brown
ponderous evergreens
lift and brighten
the last yellow leaves of autumn
atop poplar and maple
reflect the solar brilliance with their own;
mirrored beacons
signaling to one yet marooned
in the shadow of this eastern ridge

due west
our closest peak is lit
revelation pouring across its wooded slope
light following gravity down its humped back
a pyroclastic flow
a forest which burns but is not consumed
ever closer to our door

then majesty itself
eastward along the ridgetop
a blinding plasma
rising up through the trees
licking up frost and shadows
as it marches across the meadow
igniting all and me
in such a lovely burning




are you ready for a change
a rearrange
to admit that things unknown and strange
have a right to be apart of you?

that which you believe is real
your imagined ideal
the conviction that you feel
may not near the heart of you



in the forest

it gets to you
the quiet
the solitude
this place so remote

it overwhelms
the many voices of the wind
the sounding of the brook
even at a distance
the sheer number of stars
along the Milky Way

we have carved a meadow
here in the woods
and built four walls
shelter, familiar and safe
still deer and moose linger and browse
bear shyly bumble
coyotes prance and pounce
and when the October moon is full
their howls end in plaintive cries
mourning summer's passing

the night is dark
and we are only visitors
here in the forest




when I was a boy
briefly we kept two ducklings
in a pen in our suburban backyard
somehow father knew when and where to set them free
years later we looked out back
to see two ducks waddling across the lawn

so strong is the urge to return home




leaves wait
embryonicly whorled
in thirsty buds
except for one light shower
there has been no rain in two weeks

sunlight warms unborn life
naked treetops sway
wind lullabys through empty branches
the pond is down and brown as the duck that lands on it

I would trade my becoming for being



moose drinking winter lake covered bridge deer in forest stream rapids deer calling

Health Retreats l Yoga Retreats l Recreational Retreats l Spiritual Retreats l Silent Retreats
Home l About Us l Programs l Photos l Staff l Writings l Location l Lodging l Contact Us
Application l Newsletters l Guestbook l Blog l Links+ l Internships l Testimonials
Detoxification Retreats l Weight Loss Retreats l Donations
Natural Treatments for Disease
Diabetes Reversal