"You take 209 through Kingston, and go left after the roundabout onto 28 West. From there, you go about 7 or 8 miles toward the junction of 375 which will be on your right, and you follow that right on into Woodstock."
It's February the 13th, cold, (27 F, but it feels like 17), and slightly cloudy here in Woodstock. And it's quiet, bereft as it is of the usual throngs of tie-dye nirvana seeking tourists and New Yorkers up for the weekend. In fact, I'm alone enough on the sidewalk that the only other walker on my side of the street, a middle age woman who looks like she may be one of the aforementioned, visibly tightens up her posture when she hears my foot fall 12 or so feet behind.
I've parked in the municipal lot which- surprising for any touristy place, especially in New York State, is free. The first place I come to is a Tibetan/Nepali shop, which is more or less directly across the street. Though I've only left the temperate zone of my car moments before, I'm freezing, and the shop is blessedly warm, though not much different, stock wise, from similar shops in the city or anywhere else. They have the requisite "Free Tibet" stickers, the shelves of delicate looking brass Buddhas in repose, turquoise and silver jewelry and knitted fingerless gloves that become mittens when you flip the end over your fingertips. I'm tempted by the latter, until I see that they're seventeen dollars. Outlandish, I think.
"Thukchiechie" I say to the woman behind the counter (thank you, in Tibetan), and she answers me with a heavily New Jersey accented "have a nice day".
In subsequent shops (two more of which are also Tibetan/Nepali), I ask if there's a restroom I can use, but to no avail. Apparently, the only "public restroom" in town that's open in the winter, is the one inside the Town Hall, which, I'm told, is open 24 hours to boot. I'm expecting to walk through the front door and encounter a guard or at least a receptionist, but when I enter, no one is around, and the only open public restroom in Woodstock, New York, is not only unguarded, but unisex and clean.
Outside again, I cross the street, and head toward "The White Gryphon", a shop as "Woodstocky touristy" looking as most any other in the area, bedecked as it is in Art Nouveau, retro-psychedelica and tie-dye. Inside, I glance down to my right, and there on the counter is something I'm astounded by.
"Holy shit!" I say, louder than I'd intended, as I pick up the necklace: a simple leather thong with a pendant of feathers. In the corner, a very relaxed looking woman (later, she tells me her name is Fiona, and that she's a "pet psychic",) cradling a large dark gray rat (his name is "Bubo", after the bubonic plague) laughs.
"Sorry", I say, and I ask her how much for the necklace.
"I don't know... I was going to say twelve dollars maybe, but something tells me you're supposed to have it, so how about six?"
At this point, I tell her why I'm so blown away:
"See, we have this place out in Kerhonkson, it's a former bungalow colony, and the couple who lives in one of the cottages, well, she's half American Indian, and I was telling her how I'd lost the feather that was on this bag (*it's a leather, fringed bag I made, and the part that keeps it closed had a feather on it until it was snagged and lost somewhere on the streets of New York last summer), and she'd said 'well, I got some wild turkey feathers I can let you have', and they're beautiful, but they were too big for that.. Anyhow, to make a short story longer, I had this dream last night about the feathers... I was carrying them, and I met this older guy who was American Indian, and he goes, 'would you like a reading?' so I'm like 'sure', and he takes the feathers and looks at them and does a reading, and I'm like, 'how the hell do you do that? I mean, I just got those feathers, what do they have to do with me?' and he just smiles, and laughs, and says,'you may have just gotten them, but they've always been there for you.' So then, I tell him how I'd intended to use them for my bag, and maybe put one in my hat, but they're just too big for that, (*they're close to 14 inches long) and he takes one and cuts it into smaller feathers, even trimming the edges so that each section looks like a smaller but complete feather, and then he takes one and wraps a piece of twine around the base and makes a necklace of it and puts it around my neck, and says 'here, wear this'. I don't personally ascribe anything magical to the feathers or anything, but maybe my finding this necklace is the universe's way of telling me I need to listen more to my intuition. "
"See", says Fiona,"you were meant to have it". She goes on to explain that it was made by a friend of theirs who is in fact American Indian, and who, for various other reasons, sounds oddly similar to the man in my dream, and that it's the only one; he hasn't made anything else for them in a long time.
"Will you take a charge for so little?" I ask. She explains, that normally, she wouldn't, but that, because it's so apparent the universe means for me to have it, she "... wouldn't dare say no". I give her my debit card and pay her six of the remaining fourteen dollars in my account.
Somewhere around five o'clock, my gut reminds me I haven't really eaten today, so I head to the Garden Cafe on The Green; luckily, I have my wife's debit card in my wallet, and enjoy the best black bean burger over mescalin salad I've ever had.
It's dark now in Woodstock, and I'm slightly worried I might have a hard time finding my way back to Kerhonkson. I walk across to the municipal lot, which is so dark now, I can barely see where I'm going. There are no streetlights, nor is there any Moonshine. This is the kind of darkness that goes out of its way to swallow light.
I'm able to find my Saturn SL2 by remotely unlocking the doors thus triggering the cabin's overhead light.
Two wrong turns, and, "excuse me, sir? I'm trying to find 209."
His directions are a little sketchy and hard to follow, but I listen anyway, and tell myself not to worry; I'll figure out the rest; after all, I must learn, I tell myself, to follow my intuition.