Green Frog Cafe

"Living in nature, listening to the rain, Green Frog Cafe, that's where I want to be. The hemlocks are green, the creek is tricklin, there's geese on the pond, the forest sighs. Green Frog Cafe that's where I want to be, home of my soul, spirit of the mountains." Ruminations of Rhona McMahan

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Karen Daystar

Karen Daystar's friendship with me is my longest existing friendship. We first met at Paddy Mountain in the summer of 1975. The first time I saw her she was unloading or loading an old pickup truck with something for Karl Purnell, the owner of the main Paddy Mountain Farm. She and I were learning to play the guitar right then. She was really attractive in her back-to-nature semi-flower-child guise. I succeeded in establishing friendly relations with her over the coming weeks, which have endured as a friendship different from all others which I have had.

The last time I saw her I was on my way back from St. Louis in late April, 2004, driving my newly purchased 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer home. I arrived at her place in Penn's Valley around 7 or 8 PM, in a rainstorm, frazzled by driving for hours through a sometimes violent spring mountain rainstorm. I got lost in Altoona of all places, and wasted an hour wandering around looking for a road which few if any had ever heard of. Most people evidently do not even remember the old road from Pittsburgh on route 22 past Holidaysburg, then up over the mountain at Water Street Junction into the beautiful valley which holds State College and Penn State University.

Wonder of wonders she was alone, and had no one else coming over or there that evening. She had just baked a huge batch of oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, and peanutbutter cookies. Now is that luck or what? It was the first time that the two of us had been alone in a tranquil setting for many years.

About ten years ago I wrote in one of my books (Side By Side) that Karen was my role model. She is able to live a totally genderless life in terms of skills and tasks performed in day to day life. She saws and splits wood, does stone masonry, is an excellent country cook, tans hides, cultivates herbs, lays tiles, makes tiles, has the most beautiful vegetable and flower gardens, is intensely spiritual, has passionate love relationships, works in glass, makes jewelry with her glass, creates bone sculptures, and her dogs love her. She does a lot more too, and I have probably left out the most important things. For anyone who has read Jean Auel (Clan of the Cave Bear) Karen is a good approximation of Ayla the wonderwoman.

So here we were, alone for an evening eating cookies, and reclining on cushions in front of a large soapstone stove, with the two dogs lying with us. Soft music was playing with strong sensual and spiritual overtones.

We talked about our lives and loves, and how the body wears out as we go through life. She has had serious operations on her wrists in recent years, and has a lot of pain. She is a wonderful guitar player, and it must hurt her when she tries to play. It was wonderful to be with her.

Being with Karen is like being in an alternate universe in terms of the knowledge and perceptions which hold sway. Karen is a person who has tried to understand appropriate technology and its role in the spirit of the Earth and its humans and other living organisms. I am a person who has often talked the talk but not walked the walk.

The next morning was bright as I drove away from Day Star with a song in my heart, across the gap at Hairy John State Park into the West End of Union County, and arrived home at Paddy Mountain. I thought "so far, so good" with respect to the Grand Wagoneer with 142,000 miles on the odometer. I reread the owners manual as I prepared to go off-road along the logging trail up to the Green Frog. I clicked the transfer case into low range, switched on 4 wheel drive, and drove easily through the Spring forest up the ridge to my staging area. I checked out the junkyard of used up vehicles which I have accumulated, and walked the last 100 yards to the cafe. Everything was in good shape, showing no signs oif intrusion in the 6 months since I had been there. I looked around swiftly and tore myself away. No sense in becoming involved, there was no time.

I got back in the Jeep and got out of there, right through the mud which had sucked up every other vehicle I had before (except the '72 International pickup). As I drove back to New York I was elated to know that now I would be able to drive right up to the house with people and things, compensating somewhat for my flagging physical strength. As usual, the rush of the stream next to the Green Frog, and the delicate greeness of the leaves out in the forest, renewed my spirit and I drove the last leg back to the Apple with joy.


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