Written by Jane Webb
Certain places lay claim to your soul as though you were revisiting a beloved home from a previous life. Still Waters Retreat Center was like that for me.
Coming from the city the first thing that is clear is that the air quality is something entirely different- a luxurious and potent entity being exhaled by ancient woods and deep earth: pure, rare and endangered.
When I alighted from my generic faceless rent a car Amy came rushing with her two rescue dogs (a Lab and a Poodle) to help with my luggage trailing vapors of spent smudged sage and geranium essential oil, full of hugs and good will. After we deposited my 20 plus pounds of Produce and raw/vegan snacks ( one can never be too prepared) in my cottage she gave me a tour.
Several rustic/chic cottages surround a large pond and verdant lush woods.
One can easily imagine idling away an afternoon kayaking, meditating by the stream or perfecting a headstand on the outdoor yoga platform while the wind chimes lull one into a deep trance.
It is obvious that two artists own this place and their aesthetic sensibility informs every room and vista in this 100 acre paradise. Amy is accessible and engaging in a sincere manner that puts you right at ease. You know that you could say practically anything to her as though she were an old friend. She led me to her kitchen where we sampled her delicious well water and discussed the merits of various supplements she was taking. We marveled over the reishi mushrooms that she had foraged on her property. Her large kitchen in the main house is a chef’s dream and the adjacent dining room with it’s large fire place was a magnetizing gathering place for all that weekend.
It happened to be Amy’s birthday and she had arranged for Brendan Burns to perform a sound healing ceremony that evening which as it turned out was the perfect way to kick off the weekend. Amy’s husband Tao brings a strong design sensibility to all of his modifications and designs on the property. It is clear that this is an ongoing life project. I have no doubt that each year will bring more cottages, consciousness and great art to this land.
One of the great surprises was coming upon Tao’s (and his friends) art on our nature walks. I particularly loved the Rose’s Thorns and also The Alice In Wonderland plundered tea party that resembled Miss Havisham’s wedding al fresco.
The following day mycologist Ryan Bouchard presented a lecture on the treasures of the forest: mushrooms- benign and otherwise. Afterwards we went in search of the funky fungi and what was truly impressive was the sheer vastness of the property that belongs to Still Waters. We also found a very large Hen Of the Woods mushroom but unfortunately bugs had found it first so we left it behind.
Our evenings ended around a huge bonfire that leapt in the crisp October air and made one supremely happy to be alive.
With two large spaces for yoga (indoors and outdoors) it is just a matter of time before the yogini stampede begins in earnest… and lucky and happy they will be to have found this place.
The cottages are well appointed and spacious with fully equipped kitchens and comfy porches that invite you to wile away the afternoon reading that book that has been collecting dust by your bedside for the last few months.
Random seating areas around the pond present the perfect day dreaming/meditating spaces to fall in love with all of god’s creation. This place was designed for the perfect zen moment and if you string those all together you have a pretty stunning day.
On a more practical note: Another detail that was a welcome relief was Amy’s willingness to eschew using any fragranced products in my room prior to my visit. She also expressed an interest in learning more about how to be truly green and I applaud that and think that that will create another demographic to appeal to. The person who wants to vacation in a place that is as non toxic as their own home.
It is always amazing to me that in the closets of so many eco-resorts, health spas, yoga ashrams and health food establishments are still the toxic standbys of Clorox, Windex, Ajax, Tide, heavily fragranced soaps and various pesticides…Didn’t they get the memo? This stuff is bad for the individual and the environment and there are safe and effective alternatives that have no negative impact at all. Come on, hippies! Let’s get it together.
The very beautiful Still Waters is open from May to October for groups and individuals.
I will definitely go back.
Amy & Tao are excellent hosts with a glorious space in a dramatically stunning location. Dare I say it is a spiritual mecca, a vortex of sorts and a very cool place to spend time: Plan to stay for at least a few days to truly unwind!
If you pass Fairfield, Ct on your way here be sure to stop at Catch A Healthy Habit which has superb raw vegan food.
Also nearby but I didn’t get a chance to visit is G-Zen in Branford, Ct which was just voted Connecticut’s Most Sustainable Restaurant. Next time…G-Zen!