Walking Woodstock: Leaving Glenford

From the air, Glenford is a pleasant scattering of roofs on the south slope of Ohayo Mountain. Some of its houses have splendid views of the sparkling Ashokan Reservoir. Glenford serves as a suburb of its famous sister hamlet, and is rapidly being gentrified. Public buildings are few: a firehouse (closed) that was once a one room school; a tiny post office; and a church with a steeple that was destined to be covered by Ashokan waters before it was moved to Glenford and eventually purchased by artists. 

Ohayo Mountain Road begins in Woodstock  and winds  down to Glenford and Old Route 28, which feeds into the modern Route 28. To a few, one of Ohayo Mountain’s attractions is that its bulk acts as a buffer to Woodstock. The flaneur was one of these. 

After a decade in the East Village, a year in Europe, and two years in Brooklyn, Glenford seemed to the flaneur like a good refuge in which to rusticate when he moved there in June, 1975. 

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Fast forward 43 years: when illness forced him to leave the home where he had written his books, reared his children and chased the elusive hummingbird of happiness with his  beautiful wife, he was struck by the abrupt, arbitrary finality of fate’s course — the zig zag pattern it made was etched in darkening glass. He thought of what he might miss. 

Their house was graced with a magnolia tree in the front yard and a hundred year old oak in the back yard that shaded the house, which was good, but also the garden, which was not; the BW was an avid gardener. 

Tall lilac hedges provided a wall between the house and Ohayo Mountain Road. Giant pines gave cover from the neighbors. It was only a half acre of paradise, but sufficient to their dreams. It was stuffed with books and art, a ramshackle bohemian palace full of what one could only call good vibes. When he thought of his long history with the house, one memory always came  to mind: he was working in his library tower when the noises of children playing drew him to his window. Looking down, he saw his five kids splashing in the above ground pool that came with the house, and he thought, this is success. This is what it means. 

He became a guest — he, who had always been a host! His daughter Djuna and her husband Josh made him welcome in their Boston home. His hosts were more than kind — they were loving and caring — and his praise for them would always be inadequate; they would live in his heart. But now he belonged nowhere.

(Of course, he was not homeless, as too many in the world are today. His homelessness was metaphorical; but deracination’s variety and vagaries may also be painful and disorienting, even to those whose heads have pillows waiting for them at night.) 

He thought about the road before him — the one outside his door that he would never walk again (he rides a wheel chair) and the  metaphorical one, his own Yellow Brick Road. Every day he had walked the road seven miles to Woodstock and back, wondering what he would discover, who he might meet, how his life might be changed by some simple decision he could not anticipate making. It was Oz that beckoned. 

The flaneur thought he would miss the road — the sharp burning in his calves at the first steepness each morning — almost as much as his house. 

He would miss living across the road from Leslie, his first-born, and her husband Colin; he would miss waving to his friend Henny as he climbed the road; and Frank, photographer and mycologist, whose view from Spencer Road was of Glenford as a village on the Riviera. 

Perhaps someday he would make it to Oz, perhaps not. But he was consoled by the thought that it was the journey that mattered, and not the destination.

When he stretched out in his hammock he could watch the rug rats chase each other, snapping towels, droplets of water catching sun light in their hair. 

He remembered how he had looked ahead, wondering what years spent in the house would bring. Plenty of work, obviously, the house needed painting — its red asbestos siding was peeling, and its roof needed patching. But it was impossible to predict what  the house would demand of him. He hoped he would be equal to its challenges.   

He gave up trying to see into the future. Gardens would grow, parties would be thrown. He had wondered, when the time came to leave Glenford, if he would sell the house because his back could no longer bear its weight.  

He knew he would miss the road most, but it would always be there, waiting for him. He had walked it 15 miles a day for 30 years. Now what came to  mind was a line from The Wizard Of Oz: “Sometimes you have to leave home to find it.”

There is one comment

  1. Harry J Beeman

    i toast you ! Micheal Perkins to your salute “on the way out of Dodge” the tale, of the the observant loafer…. re-marking a plethora of views from poignant vistas. The ‘Shokan beckons still as in our indulgence of the perploofity of the rocks skipping over the stream of our living and again too far from it’s welcoming shore-harry b. mesa, az.

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