August 7th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
Numerous articles were written on Anne LaBastille since her passing on July 1, 2011 but Anne’s many books best describe who she was and how she lived her idyllic lifestyle. I first became acquainted with this remarkable lady in 1976 upon acquiring her first book entitled Woodswoman. Vicariously living her life through her words as she had lived hers through  Thoreau’s Walden, I connected with this kindred spirit but drew the line at actually living out the dream. It might have been she who spawned my desire to become a Conservationist in the Adirondack region but my intense fear of bears prevented me from embarking on the journey she so freely embraced. Instead, I took a detour, enjoying all the benefits of the family summer home in the mountains while still retaining my ties to civilization. Truth be told, I just didn’t have it in me to live a life of such reclusive isolation. I was in love with the idea of it and so Anne’s books sustained that love without my having to endure all of the hardship and lonliness that went along with it.
The other day I came across her book, Beyond Black Bear Lake. I was in the family cabin, now belonging to me 36 years later. Her books take me back to that time, when our cabin was built  and all my girlhood dreams came flooding back like the river that lies at the base of the mountain. Like the river, they were there all along but lay dormant, and dislodged like a rock in the muddy contours of my mind. The rock that slid out from under me at having learned of her passing, a year and a month too late. A profound personal loss overcame me, as though part of my past, that should be as solid as the book I held in my hand, had suddenly disintegrated. Woodswoman, it dawned, was the essense of what (not who) I was and it hurt me to the core. The unspeakable sadness that this fiercely independent woman had succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease, had spent the last few years of her life in a Plattsburgh nursing home, had had her worst fears realized. Forced to give up her dream life, her cabin, her dog . Herself.
I pick up the book and begin to read. Anne speaks. Reliving the life as if it were just beginnng. Once more, I join her on the journey. On a beautiful moonlit night, canoe slipping softly through the water, German Shepherd in the bow. We are living, and breathing the crisp Adirondack air scented with pine.  Enter the tiny lamp lit log cabin. The night is long and summer is eternal. Write your story, Anne. The one that never ends. I can still see the water lilies floating on the pond.  And nothing breaks the surface.
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2 Responses to “Woodswomen”

  1. phillip Says:

    I first read Woodswoman while snowbound in my Vermont cabin years ago and felt connected to Anne as I was doing the same.Trying to keep warm and survive a long winter . Now, years later Ihave rediscovered this great book at the bottom of a box of books in storage.Now i’m reading it under warmer conditions in Arizona.I went online to see what other books Anne might have written only to learn of her passing.How sad.

  2. magdalena Says:

    That’s much the way I found out about it. I found her book at my old cabin and decided to go on line to see what she was up to. The news stunned and saddened me.

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