Last summer (2019) at Great Camp Sagamore in the Central Adirondacks, seventeen women gathered for the second year for the Anne LaBastille Women’s Writers Weekend. We gathered in the Playhouse and stood in Tad Asana (Mountain Pose) feeling individually what it was like, perhaps, to be a mountain. It was then suggested that together we could be considered a mountain range–collectively an image of unity, uniquely composed and very powerful.
Now, because of the pandemic, we are in relative solitude, relatively far from one another, and far from the unique place that is Great Camp Sagamore. Since March, we have been in a fearful state of mind and soul, those of us who were once a range of mountains, because of a tiny virus that not anyone, not the greatest minds in science, completely understands, and that has killed over a hundred thousand citizens of the US and infected over two million.
We are hardy women writers. You would think that as such, we would be thrilled to be in isolation, able to wipe a calendar clean of appointments and responsibilities and get down to finishing that collection of poetry or that novel. I, for one, find it jarring to be interrupted by the phone and internet. I have organized and reorganized my office, my forty years worth of journals, and one file twenty years thick with letters to and from my college roommate. I have appreciated that solitude and the chance to do my work, but I have also had all the time, like a mountain, to be very still, very within. I have also been still, hoping to be passed over, like a frog when the heron is nearby,
Governor Andrew Cuomo described the last 100 plus days in New York State as climbing a mountain. Everyday he displayed graphs to show how the slope up was so steep. In fact, he compared the mountain of infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths as “Mount Everest” and a few days later brought it closer to home describing the mountain as Mount Marcy, tallest mountain in New York State. The State of New York is seeing its lowest levels of infections and hospitalizations—the lowest in all the United States. New Yorkers followed the protocols and kept each other safe—wearing masks, washing hands, keeping a safe distance from others.
There is still great danger from the virus and that will likely continue until there’s a vaccine. One year from now, will we be able to form another mountain range at Sagamore? We all will have changed. Ice storms, rains and winds alter the surface of the mountains but do not change the core, the structure we hold to: each other.