Back to the Garden by
(194 Stories)

Prompted By Woodstock

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My cousin Steven got to go to Woodstock. He was 18 months older than I, which made him 18, and, as a boy, had more freedom. He was a rock musician as well. I wish I’d talked with him later about his experiences. I, on the other hand, was essentially locked in the house. I don’t know how consciously my parents watched me, especially because most of my close friends didn’t have the means to go. My parents were protective, and I was very sheltered, so probably that was appropriate. Somehow the word got out about the festival. There were people I knew who hitchhiked, and with all the crowds and traffic jams, who knows if they actually made it?

"We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon."

Of all the great music, which resonates to this day, what sticks with me most is the song “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell, and how it eerily presaged the connection of our generation to the environmental movement. (The amazing photo of the earth from the moon also helped.) The month after Woodstock, when I returned for my junior year in high school, I became interested in environmental studies and recycling, and got involved with the ecology club at school. This wasn’t without peril, because in my conservative town, environmentalism was thought of as a communist plot. (Was very funny until recently.)

Although most of us didn’t stay on the land, we understand that humans are part of the ecosystem, and are indeed “billion year old carbon,” with all the wonder and responsibility that entails. While most of our Woodstock dreams didn’t pan out, and the garden turned into a sea of mud in the rain, sentiment did eventually go against the Vietnam War, Nixon signed many environmental laws, and women achieved greater rights in society. My hope is that there are a few of the billion year old carbon atoms in us that help us remember the garden, even if we don’t make it back there.

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I have recently retired from a marketing and technical writing and editing career and am thoroughly enjoying writing for myself and others.

Characterizations: well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Interesting that Joni’s song encouraged you to become an environmentalist, Marian. What a great connection! We are really under threat now, so, as important as it has been for 50 years, it is paramount now! Hope we survive this administration.

  2. Suzy says:

    Marian, how infuriating that your cousin got to go and you didn’t! I wish you had managed to go with him. As for the people who hitchhiked, I bet they made it, but it wouldn’t have been easy.

    Reading Joni’s handwritten lyrics to Woodstock on Betsy’s story, I notice that she didn’t include the phrase “billion year old carbon,” so that must have been added by Crosby, Stills & Nash. A good addition. I like your last sentence about the atoms in us that will help us remember the garden. (Paradise Lost, anyone?)

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    Marian, I love that song by Joni Mitchell but never listened closely to all of the lyrics to get the environmental connection. 50 years ago, most folks were still throwing garbage out of car windows. Still, there were far fewer pollutants to contaminate the environment. I know my grandkids’ generation embraces climate change and environmental causes. They are the ones who will have to live with our mess.

    • Marian says:

      Thanks, Laurie. The “back to the garden” part also signifies innocence to me, but alas, I think that goal is near impossible. I admire the younger generation for their attention to the environment, and you’re right, they’ll have to live with it!

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