There are two things you can do when it’s snowing on April 6th in New England: gripe or escape.
I couldn’t afford an impromptu trip to Florida, so I decided on the next best thing: retreating to a Himalayan salt cave for about an hour.
This kind of sloppy spring weather – snow showers, puddles, mud and dampness that makes my bones ache and hair frizz – got old about two weeks ago. In his poem “The Wasteland,” T.S. Eliot calls April “the cruelest month.” I have a hunch he may have been looking at snow falling outside his window in early April when he wrote that famous verse.
“April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.”
― T.S. Eliot,
It can’t still be snowing. I just raked my lawn last weekend, and Scotts is having its spring sale on its 4-step lawn treatments. I bought a light jacket and pink sandals to go with a sleeveless jersey dress I’m wearing to my daughter’s confirmation this weekend. Enough already.
Enter the salt cave. I read a blog (https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/138230696/posts/324) about detoxifying during spring, but wasn’t sure I could endure an infrared room to sweat toxins out of me. That seemed like a lot of work, more than I was willing to give. This weather makes me sluggish and lethargic. I didn’t even want to put my sweat glands in overdrive.
Then I remembered reading about a salt cave in Connecticut. I thought I’d have to drive an hour to the nearest cave – and was willing to do it – until I learned that there’s a cave a mere 20 minute drive from my house in Branford, CT. Faster than you can say “book it!,” I was on the phone making my reservation.
I arrived at Rain Wellness Spa (https://www.rainwellnessspa.com/saltcave) feeling a combination of desperate, harried, dispirited, and congested. I had a splitting headache between my eyes from sinus pressure, and was generally feeling a need to escape. I was led up a staircase to the Saltonstall Cave, a dimly lit room behind a heavy dark brown wooden door.
The cave was nirvana, or as close as I was going to get in southern Connecticut in a snowstorm. Imagine cracking open a giant pink salt crystal and finding a peaceful niche where you can recline, close your eyes and veg out. Pipe in New Age music and pump in salt-infused air and, well you get the idea. After about 15 minutes, I didn’t care what was happening outside my cave.
And make no mistake about it, it was my cave for that hour. I had the place to myself, allowing me to swish my hands in the salt pebbles and put a tiny pile of salt between my brows. I entered that blissful state that you sometimes get on the beach – somewhere between awake and asleep. I tried to fight it but couldn’t. I kept drifting off.
The walls are covered in chunks of pink crystal. You know those strips of paper with candy dots on them? Well, imagine a room like that, only the dots are bigger and a lot more jagged and rough. It reminds me of a crystal mine we visited in South Dakota.
The ceiling looks like a child’s drip sand castle, all swirls and oversized drops hanging down. A crescent moon is in the center of the ceiling, surrounded by stars and constellations. It was a delightful sight for the brief period of time I managed to keep my eyes open.
I have no trouble believing our ancestors inhabited caves because I settled in quite nicely. I draped myself into one of four lounge chairs sitting in a 6-inch thick carpet of sandy pink salt pebbles. It was glorious. My only regret was I had to keep my white socks on, because I would have loved to sink my toes in the salt too.
Each lounge chair features a fluffy blanket. Think adult baby blanket, or should I call it a wooby? The chairs are comfortable, but the hedonist in me would have preferred a bed so I could turn on my side and fall asleep. Indulgent? Absolutely, but so is the entire experience.
Though salt caves are relatively new in the United States, they’re popular in Europe, with some salt therapy places dating back to the 19th century. Salt, or halotherapy, is touted as a treatment for various health problems ranging from asthma to skin conditions. It’s also heralded for boosting the immune system, improving sleep and reducing anxiety and depression.
All I know is I felt great when I left. My sinuses haven’t felt this clear nor have I breathed this easily since November. My headache went away, and I emerged from the room mellow, yet energized. It may be mind over matter, but consider this: Rain’s clients include people who visit weekly to manage breathing problems and other health issues. Or at least that’s the main reason they go.
I paid $40 for my cave stay, and I’m already looking forward to my next trip. Hopefully, it won’t be snowing.