The Path to the Women's Circle

Rosemary Gladstar, a petite Armenian-American woman in her fifties, a dynamo of positive thought and action, and herbalist extraordinaire, founded Traditionals Tea Company, the California School of Herbal Studies, Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center and Botanical Sanctuary, and United Plant Savers, which seeks to protect endangered plant species from overzealous wild-crafting herb harvesters. She compounds her own line of herbal remedies and writes prodigiously on herbs; a list of her publications appears in the revised Living On The Earth. She organizes a number of retreats, classes, conferences, and travel tours each year, maintains a huge number of friendships, always looks great and has a great-looking man somewhere in her comet-tail, and even managed to squeeze in raising a kid. She was in her twenties then. She wasn't pleased with the way the marriage with the boy's father was going, so she saddled up her horse, packed on a few things and her three-year-old son, and took off for the summer into the mountains, feeding both of them on whatever she could pick along the way.

I taught at one of her women's herbal retreats in California, in 1983--a yoga class, and journal writing. When I revised Living On The Earth, Rosemary gallantly came to my aid, reading the herbal section as a technical advisor. I was thrilled to be offered a teaching post at the New England Women's Herbal Conference, which coincided with the New England portion of my book tour. I was looking forward to seeing Rosemary again after seventeen years, and I had been hoping to meet Juliette de Bairacli-Levy ever since Helen Nearing gave me Juliette's book Nature's Children when I met Helen on a TV show in 1971.

Juliette, born of Turkish-Jewish jewel importers in England and educated as a vetrinarian, spent her adult life living primitively among the gypsies, Berbers, and other tribes with knowledge about plants and animals beyond what she learned in an academic setting. She writes charming accounts of her exploits, as well as novels and poetry. She is a life artist--one whose crowning artwork is the collection of choices she made of how and where to spend her days. She still travels widely and lives close to the earth, usually without electricity. I think she is close to ninety years of age.

So, with a great deal of excitement, I made my way from Packer Corners Farm in Guilford, Vermont, to the Boston University Sargent Camp, just north of Peterborough, New Hampshire, where the 13th New England Women's Herbal Conference would unfold.

I head out Weatherhead Hollow Road into Guilford

The town of Brattleboro viewed from the river.

Highway 9 becomes Highway 101 in New Hampshire. A pond on the way to Peterborough.

Peterborough, clearly a town with an active historic commission

Boston University Sargent Camp centers around an well-mowed meadow.

Cabins each contain four bunkbeds, two heated bathrooms, two heated sitting rooms.
Outside, deer, bear, racoon, birds, forest, and a wide lake.