Alan Chadwick and Joseline Stauffacher in Santa Cruz

Alan Chadwick a Gardener of Souls

Alan Chadwick and the Last Days at Green Gulch



Greg --

Per your first question about Green Gulch.


To the best of my recollection (and this period is a bit hazy in my memory), Alan and Baker Roshi reached some kind of mutual understanding that the Chadwick style and the Zen mode of practice were not meshing satisfactorily for either party, and they both agreed that it would be best to part company.  I don't recall where Miriam went, but I believe she left at this stage, since things were closing down, and I vaguely remember someone coming to get her.  Out of the remnants of odd details I remember checking a thermometer one evening, when it felt especially cold and reading 42 degrees, forever thereafter fixing that temperature in my mind as the defining threshold of "cold."  That cold foggy November night I felt acutely alone in the apprentice house, lying awake in the large barren room I occupied, the same room I think where Alan spent his final hours.  That probably was my last night at Green Gulch.


At that point I was the only apprentice left, whereupon Alan re-assigned me to Saratoga to work in Mr. Peake's Dairy.  It was late November or early December in 1972.  I don't recall how I got to Saratoga.  I believe you had use of a car at that time and might have picked me up.  I sort of remember us driving down to Saratoga together and discussing the difficulties of those days.


I then had a little cottage in the back yard of the mid-size estate of one of the Saratoga garden-supporter's (an anesthesiologist and wife, whose names I can't remember; he had a speech impediment that you mimicked, having heard him call out the name of his young son, "Russell," I think).  The old Russian in the little adjoining cottage sometimes shared his borscht with me.  I would ride my bicycle to the dairy at 4:00 am each morning to assist with the milking six days a week (if I remember correctly).  I was altogether exhausted most of the time.  Also I was communicating with Alan by mail at this time, puzzling over what should be the next step for the continuity of the Garden Project and feeling much of the weight of the future of the garden on my shoulders.  A part of Alan yearned to escape to the Seychelles Islands.


Christmas eve you and I went to the Catholic Church to listen to the choir.  They sang O Holy Night quite beautifully, and the priest reflected on "the lights brightly shining out on Highway 17."  Unbeknownst to us at the time Alan was severely ill back in his trailer house at Green Gulch, where he had remained to close out the operations.  I remember him later remarking what a wretched time that was, puking miserably as if he was disgorging the whole unpleasant episode of collapses of garden projects at both Santa Cruz and Green Gulch.


Sometime in January I wrote Alan a letter, encouraging him to let go and sail off to the happier life he deserved.  The letter was equally prompted by my own need to take a similar break, and therefore I gave expression to some of my own frustrations and fatigue for the first time, saying I needed a respite to get away and indulge my yearning to travel.  That's when I received the response characterizing my words of defeatism and surrender as "black larvae on the page," although he fully and effusively encouraged me to follow my own dream of travel.


Not long after that Alan appeared in Saratoga, where Betty Peck must have arranged his place of lodging for him.  (Greg Hudson was back in the picture too, working with you in the Saratoga Garden, it seems).  I also remember a small gathering at Alan's lodgings around the time of my birthday in late February 1973.  Alan bought me a red sweater.  I believe there was some preliminary talk about a possible Covelo project around this time.  The three months of my labors at the dairy came to an end too.  I don't remember whether the duration had been pre-arranged or whether I just reached the point, where I needed to quit.


Thoroughly spent and overly stressed by the strain and confusion of it all, I took a vacation in March or early April for about a month or more.  I flew to Hawaii, where I hitch-hiked around three islands and had various exotic adventures, partaking of the respite that I'd long been feeling a need for.  When I returned, Alan had moved to Covelo.









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