End of the Road with Writer Alice Hoffman
It’s Saturday and I have just traveled to East Nassau, NY through lush green rolling hills teeming with deer, woods, lakes and ponds. Queen Anne’s Lace embellishes the edges of two-lane roads. I’m experiencing that free, stepped outside my day-to-day life, good to be alive, wonder what it must be like to live here, feeling as I navigate beneath perfect blue skies.
I’m registered to attend The Ethelridge Road Knitting Salon 2017 Summer Retreat. It’s billed as a knitting and literary journey with cousins Lisa and Alice Hoffman. Compulsive punctuality compels me to locate the knitting salon prior to checking into an inn for the night.
I’ve been using GPS since leaving Albany Airport and so far there’ve been no wrong turns.
And yet, I’ve reached those Private Property signs and this unpaved road. I’ve passed the Keep Out signs, but they are clearly posted, too. I begin questioning the GPS. What if I drive down that gravel road only to discover a Ted Nugent devotee with a personal cache of rifles and rocket launchers?
On the other hand, I’ve traveled all the way from Savannah, GA to attend the retreat with Great American Novelist Alice Hoffman. If you read my last post you know I took up knitting for that sole purpose.
Rifles and rocket launchers be damned! I know how to cast-on, knit and purl. Don’t mess with me.
I start down the road. It turns into a path with two tracks for tires. There is no turning back. No, that’s not an overused metaphor. Literally, there is no turning back. The narrow path is hemmed-in by trees and a drop on both sides. I can only drive the tiny KIA rental car forward. My anxiety grows; I’m here for the knitting/writing retreat won’t hold sway with a certain type and I begin rehearsing, I’m here to join the militia.
Suddenly there’s a clearing and a big, black dog with a gray muzzle comes running up to chase my car. Her tail is wagging and she seems playful. Up ahead there’s a well-tended house and a small knot of people. I exhale. There’s no sign of rifles but I’m not sure this is a knitting salon, either. I roll down my window.
A woman walks over, introduces herself, smiles, and reassures me she would have come looking for the salon, too. She’s Laurie Kimmelstiel, owner of the Ethelridge Road Knitting Salon.
And then, a woman with clear, arresting eyes whose face I’ve contemplated on book covers that barely contain the magic within their pages, leans in, and says, “Hello, I’m Alice Hoffman,” and shakes my hand.
And so it begins.