Concert at Harbin Hot Springs

In the hills above Middletown, in the caldera of an ancient volcano, sprawls a lovely, quirky resort and community, where clothing is optional and cameras are forbidden--certainly in the area of the hot pools, a silent inner sanctum where float the luckiest of bohemians. Love from the center of the earth is how I think of these healing waters. Many of the longterm residents seem to live in perpetual bliss, although they can be stern when a guest ignores the rules about cameras (I did) or parking (I did, also). Certainly smiles and hugging inform the behavior of most, and crime of any sort seems to be non-existent.

The Azalea Building, built in the early 1930's, and remodeled since,
inwhich I am housed for two nights at Harbin Hot Springs.

Room 33 of the Azalea Building turned out to be a theme room
with a mummy large of enough to be a closet, but was not.

Where three three magnificent white hot springs hotels once stood and, eventually,
burned to the ground (in 1894, 1943 and 1960 respectively), a series of tents offer
a variety of merchandise. The original stone steps to the old hotels still stand in front.
Most merchants sell clothing, but one can also purchase ice cream, crepes, tarot
readings, Tibetan bells and dorjes, crystals, geods, and jewelry.

The previous foggy day at Star Mountain, where I wore a down jacket,
misinformed my packing, and I was unprepared for the hot weather at Harbin.
My first order of business on arrival was to shop at the tents. I bought a long loose
purple rayon tank top gown from India, which was perfect for my concert.

Mechanic Peter Braun's restored Studebaker won first place in the
Middletown Days Parade the same day I arrived at the Springs.
The "Silence" sign is a reproduction of the one in the temple-like
room with the hottest water bathing pool. The sticker in the
window says: "Celebrate Diversity". The flowers are fresh.


Vidya, who coordinates events for
Harbin Hot Springs, welcomed me and
helped me set up for the concert.


A laidback marquee outside the Stonefront Building
where I performed original songs and told a few stories.

The sign says: "Come on in out of the heat and mellow out
to the gentle lyrical sounds of Alicia Bay Laurel."

I played almost every song on my CD, plus a couple of my Hawaiian pieces, and Aquarian Age Liberated Woman Blues. I really enjoy myself when I play my own songs and spontaneously tell stories. I particularly enjoy using my microphone because it gives me the option to whisper and still be heard, which then allows me a greater range of dramatic expression. The audience was lovely and included a doctor from Germany who said he not only embroidered illustrations from the original Living On The Earth into his blue jeans, but he got married wearing these jeans. His friends, he told me, made ceramics with my illustrations on them as well. He wondered whether I "sold out like everyone else during the 'eighties." "Well," I said, "I started and owned a corporation, but I've still always been a funky chick who grows sprouts."

You couldn't get a more mellowed-out audience than the Hot Springs floaters.
They sprawled and cuddled all over the floor of the carpeted room, but still signalled
their pleasure with applause and CD sales at the end. This couple is reading my book.

After the concert I joined the blissful throngs under the full moonlight in the hot springs pools. In the warm pool, a structure nearly a century old, couples float, embracing, and social groupings whisper and giggle. Watsu (water shiatsu massage) therapists fold their floating clients into healing stretches and twists, releasing tension and bringing circulation thoughout the body. I received one such massage three-and-a-half years ago in this pool--it was like the most romantic pas-de-deux--dreamlike and weightless. Another major thrill comes from bathing in the very hot and icy cold pools alternately. The more times in each, the more comfortable each pool becomes. Silence is proscribed in these regions. The tap water at the resort is not only potable but beneficial, and infinitely appealing after a long session in the hot and cold baths. The gurgle of the fountains wafts perpetually through the central compound of the resort, and, eventually, through the central nervous system of the visitor. Come in and mellow out.

It was a great people night. My friend Jim Karnstedt from San Francisco introduced me to a white-haired gentleman known as Captain Love, whose mother was one of a dozen sea captain's widows who banded together and raised their children communally on a remote Tahitian island, later lived in the Haight Ashbury before the sixties even happened, and, according to the story, founded the Oregon Country Fair. "Those women were the first hippies," Jim asserted.

My Maui friend Ed Ellsworth, computer and graphics wizard to the stars of the new age, especially John Lily, a man with a million good ideas and connections, showed up at the concert. I met a new friend, Jonathan Bartky, a holistic healer who travels selling crystals and semi-precious stones. He has been here over a month, selling from one of the merchant tents.

In one corner of the warm tub I found my long time friend Don Strachan, a writer and bird-watching enthusiast with a business selling Bongers (hollow rubber balls on flexible sticks for back massage), who moved permanently to the area ten years ago and got certified to perform watsu. He's got his own style now; called wassage. If my luck holds, I'll be wassaged on Monday.