Saturday evening, my friends and I gathered in the main room of the lodge, near the fireplace. Eight women altogether. Through the big glass windows, we could see the mountains disappearing behind white mist that made the lake all silvery. Dark tree branches outside the window curved against light blue grey.
One year we came to the mountains on a warm October night with a full moon, and we gathered outside on the deck for a moon ceremony. This year, the cold and rain kept us in by the fire, talking and eating. QuiltArtist brought her collection of CDs so that we would have music. LongBeautifulHair and I decided that we needed to get everyone dancing.
Some of us - well, mainly LongBeautifulHair and me - will dance anywhere, any time. Others need to be coaxed. In the safe atmosphere of the lodge, with no audience watching, even the most self-conscious woman will join in the dancing. "Come on," LongBeautifulHair shouted above the music, "It's not a party until everyone is gyrating and sweating."
Between songs, we could hear rain drumming on the roof and waves crashing against the seawall. The big dark windows became mirrors that reflected back the scene: wild dancing figures. Despite the cold wind outside, the lodge grew warm from body heat and the glowing coals in the fireplace. Gradually, we all began stripping off layers of clothing.
"Throw it down!" LongBeautifulHair would chant each time a woman tossed another item of clothing onto the pile on the floor.
My friends cajoled me into giving an impromptu belly dancing lesson. The atmosphere was nothing like the quiet respectful attitude we all bring to belly dancing lessons at the yoga center. Screams, laughter, and sarcasm accompanied everyone's attempts to do the pivot bump, the down hip, the shimmy.
Chest circles caused the biggest commotion. "Oh, my God! How are you doing that?" said one woman, and "It's like your breasts are alive!" I kept assuring them that any woman could learn to move her breasts while keeping the rest of her body still, but most of them gave up after a few tries, collapsing onto the couches with giggles. So we went back to crazy freelance 70s style dancing.
When a group of people dance together for a couple of hours, eventually they all start moving to the same rhythm. I mentioned this phenomenon to one of my friends. "Yeah, it's true," she said, "But it's never that they all become like the best dancer in the group. It's more like the lowest common denominator."
Eventually, we opened a door to let in some fresh moist air, filled with mist from the dark lake. We collapsed around the room, ready for massages or journal writing, for talking and listening. QuiltArtist put on a CD she always brings for me, Joni Mitchell's Blue and began spreading out bits of bright fabric she was sewing into tear drop shapes. Dark-haired Woman put the kettle on for tea and brought out the apple crisp she'd brought. Outside, cold rain struck the windows and roof, but inside, the lodge was filled with golden light and the warm energy of women.