Peace of Green: Woodstock, New York

A window in an 18th Century Dutch stone cottage in Woodstock, New York looking out on the green of the surrounding forest.

A window in an 18th Century Dutch stone cottage in Woodstock, New York looking out on the green of the surrounding forest.

Most people hold in their mind the particulars of certain places where they’ve experienced that intuitive sense of not merely of belonging there but feeling entirely integrated into the environment about it.

Woodstock woods.

Woodstock woods.

Its those places where one has a sense of being part of and being at home with not merely the natural landscape but the wildlife, and all the associative senses which never leave our minds.

It may be a place where we’re living right now, visit often, or experienced once.

Its not the amount of time spent there that determines how integrated we’ve felt there as much as how it makes us feel returned, as if this is where one belongs.

Sentiment, yes, is surely a factor in our perception of such places, as is the memories of time spent there with those we love.

Being in a place which makes one simply sigh deep as if to inhale every aspect of it (and relax in the process) is based on more than associative pleasantry, however.

Window on Woodstock.

Window on Woodstock.

It is perhaps even more a response to the other forms of life which are forever there, in one incarnation or another. Yes, the trees and the birds. When one finds oneself in such places, the good old reliable trees and bird seem to move from background to foreground, as if to define and even own that place.

And while making one’s primary residence in just such a place may seem to make the statement of it being where one belongs, the truth of course is that we can all have many multiple such places that make us feel this way.

For me, one of those places is the town of Woodstock, New York, in Ulster County, on the west side of the Hudson River. It is located within the range of the old Dutch Catskill Mountains.

Most associate this place with the famous rock concert named for it, used to symbolize a generation (in fact, the 1969 Woodstock Musical Festival took place 60 miles away in the town of Bethel, since the town of Woodstock did not grant a permit for it to be held there).

Home as background for the green in Woodstock.

Home as background for the green in Woodstock.

Rather, for me it is greatly a personal place, where summertimes were enjoyed and family members still live, and where particular genres of landscape painting and Arts and Crafts furnishing which speak to my taste were born.

Yet even without the appeal of the heart and the eye, Woodstock remains consistently a peace of green. The type of place where peace is found as naturally in the white-spired Dutch Reformed Church as it is in the mountaintop Buddhist monastery,

For the birds, a place of peace.

For the birds, a place of peace.

But even without a family member who blossoms goodness and hope perpetually, or its colonial Dutch stone cottages and Arts and Crafts hammered copper, Woodstock will always be a place to find a peace of green.

All types of trees and forms of leaves, offering subtle but distinct scents define it, all through it variations of woods, forests and mountains.

And all those many trees serve as homes to the funny little fellows who don’t care if we’re listening to them or not.

During recent time spent there, I sighed deep and did listen in, as I looked around to take it in.

It is, as it always has been, a peace of green.

Here, now, if you need a moment to breath, is a record of it:


Categories: Peace of Green

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6 replies »

  1. What a great post, Carl. Very spiritual. The window pix remind me of a store house I used to visit in the country and when looking out the window I imagined I was peering into 1825! The video adds nicely to your words and pix. Thank you.

    • John – thank you very much for reading and watching this. Everything takes time so I greatly appreciate your giving some to this. And yes, it is a place where there’s no difficulty at all imaging that time has no limits. I also appreciate how you’ve shared this and other articles on Twitter. Thank you.

  2. You are very near some ancestral places for me here, what were once the Dutch settlements now occupied by places like Hurley, Esopus and Rhinebeck. And the audio portion of what you’ve posted certainly makes the whole place come alive and speak: I kept expecting 17th century Native Americans to emerge from behind the trees as I watched and listened. For me this perfect oneness with nature has occurred most forcefully among the mineral-stained cliff-lined river canyons and sage-scented hills of northern New Mexico, though this has nothing to do with ancestry, I think, but operates on some other level of reality altogether, something to be not so much understood as simply experienced. And a friend who lives in London feels the same way about the great city: as if it is observing her as intently as she is observing it.

    • I can see what you mean about New Mexico as well. I’ve a similar feeling about old cities – perhaps its my knowledge of all of our “ancestors,” so to speak – of all the people who lived in certain places, now gone, but who left enough of an impression on a place and certainly in my mind, who seem to be part of the patina there. Overall, for me at least, there is also something especially timeless about the trees and birds – these other forms of life that simply going on living whether or not a new iPhone is coming out.

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