And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
From Birches, by Robert Frost
That’s not a birch tree, and we were hardly swinging on that sturdy branch and yet, having once been country girls, each of us has climbed our share of trees. And so, when it came time to take pictures, and I saw this great tree, with a sturdy branch easily accessible to us...it was clear to me that it would be fun to climb onto that branch, and have some pictures taken there, to remind us that once, a couple of light years ago, we three sisters were swingers of birches...or at least, climbers of trees.
Not bad for 73, 65, and 57, eh?
On Saturday morning, feeling adventuresome, I accompanied my three brothers to the Buckstaff Bath House, where we arrived at 7:30 AM and then split up, they to the men's side, I to the women's, to have Buckstaff Traditional Baths. I've gone to Russian and Turkish baths before, but at the Buckstaff, a traditional bath includes an attendant who bathes you, a new experience for me. The bath begins in a deep, old, porcelain clawfoot tub filled with hot mineral water and equipped with a portable whirlpool. An attendant gives you cups of hot mineral water to drink and then, equipped with a loofah, scrubs you down, after which you lie back and soak for 10 minutes or so. This is followed by a Sitz Bath, after which you are led to a Vapor Cabinet, a steam filled cubicle with metal doors and a lid that folds over the shoulders so that just your head is exposed. The Vapor Cabinet was also a new experience for me, although I seem to have some vague memories of an I Love Lucy episode involving Ethel & Lucy sitting in Vapor Cabinets. The Vapor Cabinet was followed by a Needle Shower, a shower stall that's sort of like a mini-car wash for humans, in that there are pipes with shower heads spraying water on you from several different directions. After the Needle Shower, I lay down upon a padded table for something called Hot Packs, a really delicious experience where 4 hot, wet towels were rolled up and placed beneath my lower back and around my shoulders, and a cold, wet washcloth was placed on my forehead. I promptly fell soundly asleep, but only for about 10 minutes, after which I went to another room where I had a 20-minute massage. I emerged pink, clean, and feeling as if I didn't have any bones in my body.
The Buckstaff is the only bathhouse that is still operational on Bath House Row in downtown Hot Springs. My more modest sisters and sisters-in-law stayed behind when they found out bathing is au naturel, and I respect their modesty, but they definitely missed out on a great experience.
This is a photo I took of the sunset on Saturday night.