The front door to Karme Chöling looks unchanged from 30 some years ago. But most everything else here has changed. I spent a few days in Barnet last week looking for people who remembered the very early days of Tail of the Tiger. The people who know the most about the beginnings of Tail are no longer in the area. But I had some very interesting conversations with people who were living here before Rinpoche and his students arrived in 1970.
Alice Patneaude lives in the little house down the lane and her family once owned the old farmhouse that became Tail of the Tiger. Suzann Duquette and I sat at her dining room table and listened to Alice talk about the old days. She is a really lovely woman — full of earthy wisdom and humor. She will be 93 in a few weeks. Her husband, Joe Patneaude who died in the late 1980s, kept cows in the old barn at Tail in the early 1970s and every morning he would walk up the lane to milk them. She told us some really sweet stories about Joe’s encounters with the young people that were living at Tail. I’ll post some of these later on.
Alice told us that every time Tail of the Tiger put up a sign at the top of the lane, it would disappear soon after it went up. The sign above may have been the very first sign in 1970. It vanished soon after it went up and wasn’t seen again until someone was moving into a house in St. Johnsbury a couple of years ago. They found the sign in their new attic and returned it to KCL where it now hangs on a wall in the common area.
Gloria of McIndoe Falls Inn
I spent a memorable evening at The McIndoe Falls Inn with innkeeper Gloria Laborie and her friend Ken. Gloria purchased the inn and moved from California to McIndoe Falls (a few miles from Barnet) in April 1969. When she heard that a Tibetan Lama had moved to Barnet, she sent him an invitation to come to the inn for tea. Rinpoche accepted the invitation and he and Gloria became friends. During the early years, Rinpoche and Lady Diana stayed at the Inn quite often.
Gloria never became a student or a Buddhist, but she developed a strong bond with Rinpoche and in many ways was one of the earliest kusung — she was his server, cook, and guard. She told me that Rinpoche picked out the room he always stayed in; she still calls it “Rinpoche’s room.” The bed that he slept in is now in a different room, but it is still known as “Rinpoche’s bed.” She said it’s not uncommon for guests at the inn — Buddhists and non-Buddhist — to ask to sleep in Rinpoche’s Bed.
Gloria remembers mornings when Rinpoche would wake up and come downstairs and talk to her in the kitchen while she made breakfast for him. She routinely gave Rinpoche an assortment of vitamins in the morning. She says Lady Diana told her, “You know Gloria, he won’t take these for anyone else but you.”
Today I’m in the Northampton area of Massachusetts on my way to visit Nancy Eric, Jonathan’s mother.
from the road,