To others, it’s a Fitness Spa. To me, it’s a revivifying haven for napping, bathing, lounging in a hammock, pampering treatments and communing with strangers, none of whom, happily, have heard any of my stories.
One day, arriving at the Oaktree Pavilion to practice the piano, I ran into a professional (classically trained) pianist, about to brush up for a performance (as part of a musical trio) that evening. I, of course, deferred to her requirements, agreeing to return when she had finished.
An hour or so later, when I sat down to practice after she had departed, the piano apparently thought it was still her, and I played better than I had ever played in my life. Fifteen or so minutes later, however, the piano caught on, and I was back to playing like me. But for those fifteen minutes… boy, was I something!
On the third day, a woman announced that the following morning, she was going to meet a new challenge by moving up to a more rigorous hike. What I noticed to that point was that, as far as rigorosity in hikes was concerned, “challenging” had been dropping back to meet me.
I just stayed in one place, and the same hikes, as compared to previous visits, were just harder. Ah, the “up side” of the inexorable passage of time:
“Don’t bother switching to the “Mountain Hike”, Venerable Sir. At your age, the flat to rolling “Quail Hike” that you’ve been handling for years will have you huffing and puffing like a steam engine.”
And so it did. I stood still, and “challenging” slipped back.
On Friday morning, however, which is the last full day of our week-long cycle, something miraculous happened. By that final morning, some visitors have decided to skip the hike and remain in bed. Others, as mentioned, had advanced to more challenging hikes, and still others had departed at 6:10 A.M. for the culinarily- enhanced “Breakfast Hike” (two-and-a-half miles for a chocolate muffin.)
These cumulated absences left the seven A.M. “moderate hike” contingent drastically depleted. And, more importantly, it had transferred the bulk of the more physically adept to loftier assignments.
As a result…
To my utter surprise and exultation…
I found myself
At the head of the hike!
Me! The unquestionable Leader of the Pack! Marching along up front, with the Spa-Employee leader!
When was the last time I led all hikers triumphantly down the trail? I don’t know, like maybe twenty years ago.
And now, magically, (albeit primarily due to attrition)
Strike up “Oh Canada.” I am ready to receive the “Gold!”
Let’s be honest about it. A blog is just a small step up from talking to yourself.
I spend most of my time in my head. But at this place, I mean, every dinner when you arrive, you are seated at one of the tables for eight whose complement of diners has not yet been completed. This allows the possibility of encountering seven new strangers every evening.
And they get to encounter me!
I hope I didn’t jabber, but I probably did. I could barely control myself. It’s like a guy on a fast let loose at an “All-you-can-eat” buffet!
I was in pontificatory heaven! I got to explain the deficiencies of the “Separation of Powers” form of government to Canadians, and they actually listened! I got to discourse at length on how television comedy has changed, and nobody looked at their watch, or said “Gotta run; I’ve got a “Zumba” class in five minutes!” Well, some did, but they actually had one.
Also, and equally felicitously, while people got to meet me – and hopefully enjoy the experience – I, in turn, got to meet them.
A random and very partial sampling:
I met a guy named Steve who’d been a White House staffer during the Carter Administration. I met a guy working for a company making generic drugs, replacing the high-priced drugs whose patents had run out. I met a woman who ran a clothing company that employed two thousand people in China.
I met three sisters with roots in Northern Ontario (Canada.) I met two Carolyns and one Carol Ann. I met a woman named Nancy, who had a daughter named Nancy.
I met a lady architect from San Francisco who had just spent two months living in Marrakesh. I met a woman who lived in Hawaii, who designed the interiors of houses around the world. I met a firecracker who produced commercials for Taco Bell.
I met a smart and sensitive writer and multiple-goat owner from Vermont. I met a Southern stunner from Tennessee who shoots squirrels in her backyard, and who, when she inexplicably one morning found a pile of poop in her living room, considered calling the police to report a “B. M. and E.”
And I met a huge-hearted delight from Up North staying an unprecedented four weeks who surprised me with an individualized place-card for the Closing Dinner, and who, after I gave her a piece of my birthday cake, reciprocated by giving me a piece of (someone else’s) birthday cake (that she’d received) the following evening. (I was trying to lose weight, but not wanting to be ungracious, I ate it anyway. Are you buying that?)
I met these people and many more.
And they met an aging Jewish gentleman.
And hangin’ on.
Afterword: As often mentioned at this location, arrayed along the crest of Mount Cuchuma – listed among the twelve sacred mountains in the world – is an invisible Mariachi band that plays exclusively for me. They regaled me with multiple, specially-written numbers on my birthday, and serenaded me when I left with the spirited, now traditional,
“We’re very glad you came, Mr. Pomerantz
We’re very glad you came, Mr. Pomerantz
We’re very glad you came, Mr. Pomerantz
And please come back again.”
(My departing send-off included only two members of the band. I asked where the rest of them were, and was informed that they were currently off, playing a wedding.)
I know it sounds egotistical to claim that I have my own personal invisible Mariachi band, but, as they explained to me in a song, it turns out that I don’t. The reality is this:
“We play for everyone
But you’re the only one who hears
So we’ll sing our songs for you
If you’ll buy us all some beers…”
The band, it turns out, is available to all and sundry.
All you have to do is listen.