The SpaceMY INTENTION: For me, timber framed houses, with exposed wooden beams, are living, breathing spaces where we can rest from a world of plastic and metal. The places where we house ourselves and our families are alive. They embrace us, they protect us, they nourish us, and, if we are lucky, they inspire us. We interact with them, and our interactions imbue them with energy that, in turn, creates more or less harmony in our minds and our bodies. This is the essence of Vasta Shastra, the Indian approach to creating living spaces with the intention of nourishing and inspiring us. Like the Feng Shui of China, it is a philosophy of life grounded in a deep understanding of how the spaces in which we live affect our health - mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Basically, while it is true that Serenity is simply a physical building listed on AirBNB, it is also more than that. It is a place to relax and rejuvenate. It is a place where you create a restful vacation for yourself in a peaceful rural setting, comfortable in the knowledge that there is someone around 24/7 to answer questions or help you if you need it.
I encourage everyone who stays here to let me know what they when they need it and to do so while they are here (as opposed to telling me in a review after they leave) so that they can have the best experience possible. Most inconveniences can be easily corrected, if I am alerted to their presence in real time.
THE SETTING: Serenity sits on just over four acres, of wooded land, with Ganesh Gardens, a profusion of cultivated flower and herb beds spilling out on the hill behind it. At the base of the slope is a lovely pond, inhabited by peepers, frogs, turtles, and visited by deer, ducks, and, when we are lucky, a beautiful grey heron. Like Serenity, I experience Ganesh Gardens as a nourishing and soothing place to be. There are spaces to meditate, or just hang out and talk. There are medicinal herbs, and flowers, and I'm happy to teach people how to identify herbs or prepare native plants for a meal.
Serenity is not alone on the land. A smaller timber-framed guest house is connected to Serenity by a small entrance room. This building is used by HeartSong Health In Community, a small nonprofit naturopathic organization, to provide holistic primary medical care to local residents. HeartSong is a quiet, easy-going clinic, serving no more than 10-15 people per week. Guests at Serenity are also welcome to make appointments, and various naturopathic spa services are available, upon request: Infrared sauna, craniosacral therapy, colon hydrotherapy, yoga therapy, marma therapy (Ayurvedic energy work), a therapeutic jacuzzi, and, our latest addition, an amazing massage in an electric chair like nothing any of us have every seen before -- the Daiwa Legacy from Japan.
In addition to Serenity and HeartSong on the main floor of the two houses, there is a sound-proofed apartment in the basement which I use only as my sleeping quarters when guests are at Serenity.
THE BUILDING: Physically, Serenity is 1750 square foot traditionally pegged post-and-beam house built around a 12 foot chimney and hearth. This means that wooden pegs, rather than nails, are used to construct the frame and all structural beams are exposed beneath wood paneled cathedral ceilings with skylights. All flooring is solid wood (oak downstairs; pine upstairs), as are all furnishings.
LAY-OUT: There is a kitchen, living/dining room, three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, plus a sun room where you can sleep under the stars during spring, summer and early fall. A deck complete with outdoor grill and deck chairs also overlooks Ganesh Gardens.
KITCHEN: The kitchen is fully equipped with a refrigerator, gas stove, microwave, toaster oven, blenders, food processor, waffle iron, dishes, pots and pans, cooking and eating utensils. The kitchen is stocked with tea and coffee Keurig cups and a Keurig machine, common herbal mixes, salt, pepper, and a range of other staples that previous guests have left, such as flour and sugar.
BEDROOMS: There are three bedrooms, each with a double bed, dresser for your possessions, blanket boxes for linens, several lamps, and a writing table. The upstairs rooms also have individual refrigerators.
Master Bedroom: Upstairs, the master bedroom is doubled-sized.
Loft Room: Also upstairs, another has a large loft where the futon mattress has been placed under the skylight, leaving a full-sized room free for your use. The loft room is a favorite choice for teens and young adults, but is not recommended for young children unless they are accompanied by an adult. There is plenty of room for two -- the loft itself extends 20 feet along the length of the ceiling and is kept warm and toasty with the chimney as a side wall. The two upstairs room share a bathroom.
Accessible Room: The first-floor bedroom is directly off the living room, and is wheelchair accessible with direct access into one bathroom.
SUNROOM: Located off the dining room, this room has double futon bed, with glass on all three exterior walls, in addition to the interior wall, plus a glass ceiling. It's fabulous if you'd like to gaze at the stars while in bed or wake up to a blue sky with clouds drifting by and the branches of a lilac tree nuzzling the window next to your bed. Roll down bamboo curtains provide privacy from the dining area.
LIVING ROOM: The living room has a fireplace and a woodstove. The house is heated with the woodstove which I manage due to insurance requirements. I am available 24/7 to get the woodstove started up for you. There is also a fireplace where you can light your own fires at any time.
ENTRY: Shoes are not worn in the house; there are slippers available if you need them, as well as thick clean socks. There is a covered porch and small interior room for storing shoes, sports equipment, plus a pocketbook library for your use while at Serenity or to trade in the book you just finished for another.
SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS: Beds have futon mattresses with memory foam and hypoallergenic mattress covers, 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, and 100% cotton quilts. Additional linens provided are 100% cotton blankets or snuggly fleece blankets. Guest AccessWhether you’re interested in a quiet spot to get away from the busy-ness of your daily life, a unique place to experience a personal healing retreat, or a great place to stay while you tour Southern New England (New Hampshire and Massachusetts are just minutes away), Serenity and Ganesh Gardens offer rural quietude and privacy while maintaining easy access to I-91, the main throughway to all points north and south in New England.
I value my guests' privacy. So I offer a thorough introduction to the house upon each guest group's arrival and then I leave you to create the kind of holiday you desire, and let you decide for themselves if you would like to initiate further interactions with me.
The facility itself permits different degrees of privacy to guests, depending upon their preferences. Communally oriented guests prefer to leave the connecting doors between Serenity, HeartSong, and/or the basement apartment open, and seek social interaction with me (the owner), either sharing meals or socializing in the gardens or on the deck.
People seeking more privacy prefer to keep all doors to Serenity closed. As your host, you are encouraged to seek and experience whatever level of privacy you would like. I leave all invitations for socialization up to the discretion of the guest. Likewise, people coming to HeartSong for naturopathic services do not interact with Serenity guests unless the guests themselves initiate a conversation.
Located just about equidistant between Greenwood School, Landmark College, and Putney School, Serenity is also a great place for friends and family of students at any of these educational institutions to stay while visiting or attending graduations.
You have full and sole access to the entire house. I live in a separate apartment downstairs so the space is completely yours, except for when I need to manage the woodstove or water plants. You won't have to do a thing in the winter but enjoy the luxurious heat of our Vermont Castings Vigilant woodstove after a day of skiing, hiking, or sight-seeing.
You have full access to Ganesh Gardens, including the pond, 24/7 and you don't have to wear a bathing suit for any moonlight or daytime swimming that you fancy. I do ask that all children going into the gardens be accompanied by an adult, whether it be to swim or just to hunt for frogs. There is a hammock and a floating lounge chair for use in the pond, and outdoor rugs for doing stretches or yoga under a canopy of trees, plus a meditation stone seat in front of a Buddha statue for personal contemplation. Hundreds of outdoor lights trim the main pathways so you can get around safely at night, although you may want to also bring your own flashlight.
Ganesh Gardens were created in 2012 and are still under development. If you like to garden, feel free to join in with any suggestions and/or if you have plants you'd like to see in the gardens when you come to stay, your can bring them along and we'll add them to the gardens. I'm still experimenting to find the best perennials that will come back year after year, as I hope you will! See under The Neighborhood for a suggestion about where to get a plant if you'd like to leave a piece of yourself at Serenity forever when you leave! Interaction with GuestsAll guests are invited to participate in an optional orientation upon arrival. I developed this in response to the multitude of questions that guests often ask about rural living at Serenity, such as where to buy local produce, how to use the internet, what to do in a power outage, how is a septic system different from city plumbing, etc. During this orientation, I give guests a tour of the entire facility to help them situate themselves in the building as a whole, and help them know where to find me if they need help or where to find doors to close or open if they would like more or less privacy .
I am available on site 24/7 to answer questions on an as needed basis.
Once you are here, I will only enter Serenity to maintain the fire in winter, upon your request, to water plants year-round, empty trash and recycling (for longer stays), turn off lights left on when guests are out of the house, and do any necessary repairs and/or maintenance tasks. I try to do all of this when you are out of the house as much as possible. The NeighborhoodSerenity is the one of only a handful of places where guests can find lodging within walking distance of Putney Village. Located just over a mile from the General Store, guests can enjoy a quiet rural setting yet still only be a 20 minute walk from town or a 5 minute drive from I-91.
SAFETY: Serenity is located on a small private road, which branches off Friendship Loop, a three mile walk frequented by local residents. The area is quiet and safe for walking or biking at any time of day or night.
PUTNEY: Putney Village is a mile from Serenity, and boasts the oldest continously operating general store in Vermont as well as one of the best local food co-ops in Southern Vermont. The General Store houses a pharmacy as well as a great sandwich and coffee bar. The Putney Food Co-Op has a great selection of organic produce and staples, as well as a great deli.
We have a wide variety of restaurants, including the Gleanery, a community supported restaurant project that creates yummy meals using excess produce from local farms, JD McCliment's Pub, where you can enjoy a meal or a good brew outside on a warm summer's evening, the Putney Diner, with a range of good wholesome no frills standard American fare, and Curtis' BBQ, serving ribs and chicken cooked over an open fire and eaten outside.
As an arts community, there are many sources of local entertainment to enjoy, such as free concerts on the green by the town hall and the Yellow Barn Music Festival in the summer, plays all year round at Next Stage Arts Project and many local artists have studios at home you can visit. The annual Putney Craft Tour every fall is a great time to see all the local crafts right in the spaces where they are created. For a small town, we keep ourselves remarkably active. Go to the Discover Putney website ((URL HIDDEN) to read more about what's in store for you at exit 4 off of 1-91. The exit for Putney and just around the corner from Serenity.
PRODUCE: About 5 miles south is an absolutely wonderful farm that sells great produce in season, and beautiful flowers and plants. If you decide you'd like to leave a bit of yourself at Serenity when you leave, you can purchase a perennial there and help me put it into the Garden in your memory.
BEYOND: Putney is located 8 miles north of Brattleboro, Vermont, the largest town in southern Vermont, and 30 miles west of Keene, New Hampshire. Getting AroundPUBLIC TRANSPORT: Public transportation is limited in Southern Vermont, although you can walk to Putney Village in about 20 minutes.
SERVICES: You can find almost anything you would want at the General Store or the Putney Food Co-Op. There are two banks with ATMs and, a post office, and a bus that travels both north and south twice a day, and of course, you will be staying next to the only medical clinic that has a physician on site 24/7, so if you don't have a car, you can still take care of yourself quite well while at Serenity. Other Things to NoteROOM TAX: As per Vermont tax law, there is a 9% room tax applied to this rental. The tax is INCLUDED in the posted rate.
ACCESSIBILITY: The entrance to Serenity is ADA-compliant and there is an ADA-compliant bathroom at HeartSong and a first floor bedroom with an attached bathroom (although this bathroom is not ADA compliant) for any physically disabled guests. Differently abled children and adults are welcome and any special accommodations necessary to facilitate their stay will be provided if possible, as long as I have advance notice of what is required.
HERBS: You will have access to unlimited quantities of herbal teas, both dried and fresh from the garden, while you are at Serenity.
NATURAL HEALTH & SPA SERVICES: Since Serenity shares the property with HeartSong Health In Community, the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit naturopathic medical clinic in the United States, you may want to avail yourself of natural medicine and spa services for additional fees (per service): marma therapy (Ayurvedic energy work), craniosacral therapy, infrared sauna, yoga therapy, hydrotherapy (walk-in jacuzzi tub and colon hydrotherapy), and naturopathic consultations.
HEALTHY LIFESTYLE SUPPORT: Heartsong also offers Firstline Therapy, a certified nutrition-based lifestyle modification program for improved weight, blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure management.
COLONICS: It is the only facility that offers colon hydrotherapy using the Angel of Water appliance in Vermont.
AYURVEDA & BLOODTYPE MEDICINE: HeartSong is the only clinic offering personalized bloodtype and/or Ayuvedic medical consultations in Southern Vermont.
SERVICE AVAILABILITY: Services for Serenity guests are offered weekends and holidays, during the day or in the evening.
HEALTH INSURANCE: Many services are covered by health insurance plans that include naturopathic medical care; this includes all Vermont Health Connect Plans, including Medicaid.
NATURAL PHARMACY: HeartSong's natural apothecary carries nutritional supplements and herbal medicines made from plants in Ganesh Gardens. It also offers great high protein meal replacement bars for your days on the road, as well as an effective natural tick repellant for those of you who would like to take extra precaution to prevent tick bites. Lyme disease is endemic in our county, as in many other counties in Vermont. However, with proper precautions, you should feel free to enjoy your time in Vermont without worry of contracting the disease, especially with a Lyme-literate physician living and working right on the grounds where you are staying!