Connections: Tree Pose
“The woods‚” hereabouts, used to mean quiet expanses where one could wander alone among stands of white pines, find a path to a hidden pond, and hunt for trailing arbutus, an evergreen groundcover with small pink blooms in early spring. (The internet tells me they also are called mayflowers, which makes sense, but what my late mother-in-law, Jeannette Edwards Rattray, called them was woodpinks.)
Today, however, what we see in Northwest Woods in East Hampton, as well as in the woods of Southampton, to the extent that I have poked around in them, are man-made neighborhoods peppered with examples of excess.
“Excrescences” would be too harsh a description, I suppose, for the largest of the stuccoed or stone-sided mansions that have cropped up down the long and winding driveways that until recently were dirt roads or footpaths. These grand houses apparently are filled with Stanford White-style staircases and dining-room tables big enough for two dozen or more.
I’ve been thinking about dirt paths in the woods these days because I have had to find my way in recent weeks to a yoga class in a studio off Millstone Road, in the woody region between Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor, which is led by an excellent yogini (although she would hate that coinage).
Finding Millstone Road was a problem the first time I tried; I got to Scuttlehole, then turned in the wrong direction, and then, after driving around for a while, gave up. After that, someone hung a red balloon on a tree to mark the driveway for outlanders like me, although, with balloons now rightfully considered unacceptable environmentally (especially by the sorts of people who practice yoga), we have been warned they will soon be removed. Instead, we were told all we had to do was drive to the fourth dirt path on Millstone Road, regardless of whether we came from east or west.
The dirt path to the studio is definitely in the woods. Eventually, it circles a long, low building, where the property owner, a master printmaker and inventor, has set up shop and also constructed a small building with a second-story space full of light, perfect for yoga and contemplation, although he apparently intended to use it initially as an art gallery.
I may not like the disappearance of the uninhabited white pine forest, but I’m not so much of a curmudgeon that I would deny the positive side of a modern world in which we lucky few get to go to yoga classes in lovely settings (beach, woods, even the middle of the bay on a paddleboard) on any random weekday.
I don’t think I can give you, or your GPS, good driving directions to my yoga class, but I would be happy to tell you how to join us, provided, of course, you like going into the woods.