One daily highlight of maintaining the estate in Frost Valley was grabbing a bag of fish food and walking upstream some half-mile to feed the fish in the ponds behind the little meadow where I had met a baby skunk and had first been introduced to fireflies.
One afternoon in mid-August I saw a car parked on the road beside the meadow and discovered two guys sitting on the edge of the road, enjoying the view while they ate a simple picnic. The guys were both studs so I wasted no time introducing myself and sitting beside them to compare notes. I told my story of finding obscure roads to hitchhike on and they said they had found Frost Valley because they lived in Boston and were headed to a concert and figured this tiny line on a map would be a nice, wooded drive. Then we made out for a while there beside the road, all three of us thankful for the absence of traffic and confident we could hear any vehicle approaching in the small valley.
Once the meadow had been splendored beside, the two guys suggested I join them at the concert. I was sure Stan could spare the help since the estate’s chores were all caught up. But I did have the fish to feed and it was kind of cold and drizzly, I didn’t have a ticket and it would be a couple days before I was back and I had no food or bedroll packed. The guys assured me it would be OK but I declined and they went on down the road while I headed to the ponds to feed fish.
Two days later Stan needed something from a shop that was in Monticello, some thirteen miles south of the town of Liberty, where I had spent a night under a freeway bridge on my way to the middle of the Catskills. We took highway 42, a back-road short cut from Frost Valley to Monticello, and picked up what Stan needed. On the way back Stan wanted to take the long way, up Highway 17, the freeway-style road I had slept under in Liberty. He wanted to check out the big commotion that was going on up that way.
We soon discovered a very long parking lot.
The freeway was divided, with a grassy median between the north- and south-bound roads. On both sides of the road north to Liberty cars had pulled onto the gentle slopes away from the pavement and parked.
There was nothing disorderly about this parking. The cars were diagonally parked as precisely as could be, as if an attendant had directed each placement.
On the other side of the freeway, headed south, both sides of that road were just as precisely filled with parked cars. This went on for miles.
At Liberty we got off Highway 17 and headed east back to Frost Valley and a rather wet and chilly August weekend.
There was a lot of talk in Frost Valley that week about those orderly cars parked on the freeway. And the fact there was no litter. And the fact no one had heard even one horn honk. “Well. I guess when folks have no where to go they have no reason to honk horns,” seemed to explain it all.
Eventually I figured out there was a well-attended concert just fifty miles from where I spent the summer of 1969 in the Catskill Mountains.
The concert’s name was Woodstock.