There are blank faces in the branches of the white birch trees by grandfather oak. I walked there my first summer (2006) hand in hand with the tall, solidly built man from Buffalo. We wanted to see the other side of the beaver pond, so we took the path around the perimeter of the property on a brilliant blue-sky day. As we slowed near one spot, I lightly gave T’s buns an affectionate pinch. He was good at muscle hugs, and I wanted a breakthrough touch to melt a little of his natural reserve. Would he feel my attraction, my hunger, and my need for strength in sex combined with gentle nurturance…my “desire under the birches”? His merry, blue eyes twinkled as he turned to look at me, and his Kris Kringle mouth with full lips opened with happy surprise showing big, white teeth like his big bones under his big muscles. “My lumber Jack!” I said. He smiled.

Like the faces and shifting shapes in the clouds, rolling over our 175 bucolic acres here, the physiognomies of imagined men appear in the cluster of white birch trees each walk I take. Sometimes, I’m alone on my rounds; other times I find a new man to keep me company, as I show him grandfather oak and grandmother pine. Always, the slender, white branches of the birch trees create another pretty face in my imagination, another tall, solid man of tenderness and strength. I sit sometimes, when alone, on the carved out trunk-stump under the oak, gazing at the birches when the wind rolls down the mountain, and I see in my mind’s eye men swaying and dancing. They take the shape of our celebrations in the lodge, when the great room is crammed with gyrating, pulsing young men releasing all the stored-up sexual energy primed to pop. Mostly, though, my imagination serves the immense possibilities of the place for connection and for spirit – an oasis of personal freedom to live fully in my own natural skin like the howling coyotes during our full moon.

This past summer I had been, at first, more like the lonely, diffident, blue heron who lives behind me, until I discovered the energy-healing cabin three doors down in the woods. I soon grew besotted with Easton’s natural charms. I learned like the coyotes how to run in a pack on an atavistic romp through the forest. The source of my new energy focused on the energy-healing cabin, my womb of human touch. I am re-learning the healing power of human touch, of sexual desire folded in with the creative energies of artistic expression, of the ecstatic release of massage topping a tender embrace.

One very special day this August 2007, the very day I received the new edition of Stories from the Other Side, from the publisher, E. and I agreed to offer mutual massage that evening. I quickly reserved the Energy Healing Cabin with Sunfire for later, and I was euphoric over the double-billed blessings of my book and bodywork with the most beautiful man I had so far hugged at Easton. E. is a reserved, cerebral Canadian with Calvinist core; moreover, in the same body he is Greek in harmonic proportion, a Praxiteles, Alcibiades to my aging, 66 Socrates. I couldn’t ascribe my good fortune that one day to anything but my own growing confidence and initiative within Easton’s bubble. Beyond that I had just done some of the best emotionally healing work of my long life in a Rubenfeld/Synergy with Rob Bauer in which I let go of the remaining straps of unworthiness from childhood. I was feeling….worthy!

E. and I had connected as work/study staff. We talked poetry and other passions. I loaned him my Mary Oliver poetry primer. I strove to eat meals with him, happened to shower at the same time and offered to give him rides to town. He was bicycling the East Coast this summer and alighted at Easton as guest but stayed on to work.

Late that evening after supper, we talked, and I gave him an “out”, as he had hiked all afternoon around Easton mountain and over to Jeff Haber’s house. He looked exhausted, but he wanted to keep our plan, so we walked slowly to my cabin, where I grabbed my massage oil, some sheets and towels. It was around 9:00 p.m., already dark, and we entered the energy cabin. I lit a few candles that reflected more light from the windows. I gave E. a warm hug of thanks, we undressed and he offered to massage my tired body first. I was grateful, as I had pulled kitchen cleanup that evening, and my back muscles along my shoulders were sore.

What a wonderful technique and touch he has: lifting my legs, as I lay supine, and resting one first on his shoulder as he sat on the table. Oh! I couldn’t wait to try that on him. His body is so youthful, so sweet to caress: long, muscular, biker’s legs, especially the lithe and lean thighs; downy, dark hair on his broad chest diminishing to a point above his generous penis and heavy balls; his pony tail of long hair and masculine chin. I loved touching him all over from crown to toes, which I gently separated and pulled. I climbed on top of the massage table at one point, and I pressed my large hands, open-faced into his beautiful butt cheeks a la effleurage. Wow! That butt is all one with his best features, all in proportion and harmony with classic male beauty from the dawn of time. If there ever is a boy who points to the ideal, it is he.

(Copyright 2007 Frank Crowley) Our thanks to Frank for letting us use this essay, which he wrote in 2006, shortly after his first visit to Easton Mountain.