Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hinsdale, Stockbridge and Great Barrington MA Jul 13-16 2015

On our way south we would avoid having to remove vent covers since the underpass was after our turnoff onto I-87, so we left Keene Valley and drove along to the highway where we stayed until having to make a decision of which way we wanted to head to Hinsdale MA where another of my childhood friends lives.  Nancy lived up the hill from Jana for several years while she and her brother and their mom had lived on St Croix in the late 50s and early 60s.  She and I had lost touch over the years but when Jana joined Facebook in 201, I saw a comment from Nancy and said hello.  It turned out that both she and I had had a child in our mid-40s and we reestablished our friendship.  Nancy would come several months later to a reunion of Crucians the summer of 2010 at our house in Northport.  At that time we decided that since Nancy had been gone from STX since 1964 it was high time for her to go back and there was no better excuse than the fact that I would be turning 60 the following summer.  She had come down to NY on several occasions since then and we really wanted to see her little corner of the world so we'd planned our next stop to be in Hinsdale.  Surreptitiously, we'd finally be able to go to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, something we'd tentatively planned several times and never done, as well as have lunch with some friends from our days in West Park, Jeff and Michael.  We had not seen them since their wedding and they now live n NY 15 minutes from Great Barrington, MA.

With no driveway to speak of Nancy arranged with the local school superintendent to allow us to use the empty school parking lot.  So, since we were not yet using the Garmin GPS and I was relying on the Google maps, we soon found ourselves wending our way up and down verdant and charming roads that were a little wider than pathways until we came over the last hill to Hinsdale and our location.  The sky had been cloudy and drizzly and I had texted Nancy ho was meeting us there.  As we entered the lot the heavens opened and we were deluged with cool rain.  Why it did not occur to us to simply wait for the rain to stop at that point is a mystery, but for a few minutes I tried backing and filling under the trees, breaking off small branches in the process and we when finally grew a few new grey cells we stopped until the rain did.  Then we set to trying again until two volunteer firemen from the station adjoining the school lot came and suggested it would be better to use their lot.  The problem with the school lot was that it was not level unless we were out in the middle of it-something that was not intended when we were given permission.  So I drove over to the fire station and within minutes we were parked, leveled and set up. And the rain had well and finally stopped.  I got to ride over with Nancy to feed her daughter's pony and we watched a beautiful display of the sun behind the clouds which were clearing. We were invited to Nancy's for dinner (a real treat since she is a phenomenal cook) and she served us a delicious eggplant and pasta dish that came from Jana. After a nice mellow evening we walked back to the MoHo in the cool summer night air.

Nancy is a social worker and as such, whether one has taken days off or not, she had to go into her office for awhile the next day.  So, of course that was an opportunity for me to do laundry. Ha!  Don vegged and then when Nancy got home we joined her for yet anther delicious meal.

The following day Nancy was off but was taking her daughter to some appointments so we drove to Stockbridge to the Norman Rockwell Museum, which was great fun.  My parents subscribed to Life magazine and the Saturday Evening Post (as well as Time and Reader's Digest) when we were growing up, so my ideas about what the rest of the world looked like came largely from the pictures in each, but my idea of the "flavor" of American life was pure Norman Rockwell.  Intellectually, I knew reality was way more varied  but his iconic images were what I pictured.  It was a trip down memory lane as well as a very instructive experience, since there was much that neither of us knew about the artist and the man.

From there we continued to Great Barrington, MA.  Great Barrington, which the Mahican Indians called Mahaiwe, meaning "a place downstream," lay on what was called the New England Path (six northeastern states) and connected Fort Orange (near Albany, NY) with Springfield, MA and Massachusetts Bay. It later, during the Gilded Age, became one of the resorts that the rich denizens of the cities of the Northeast would flock to to escape the summer heat. And, it would be the birthplace of W.E.B. DuBois, one of the co-founders of the NAACP.  It is now one of those towns that has built on its small town feeling and features small bistros, art galleries and several emporiums, though they tend to be of the "Why Pay Less?" variety. But, I did get some splendid cheeses and a few jars of honey to give as house presents and we had a lovely delicious lunch at a French bistro, Patisserie Lenox which had excellent food-we had Croques Mesdames and Messieurs (technically we had 2 Croque Madame and 2 Croque Monsieur) but the desserts were what convinced Jeffery and I that we needed to push Don and Michael to eat there.  Everything was delicious and just enough.  We all strolled through town for awhile longer and then we parted.  Don and I took a scenic route back to Nancy's over rolling hills and farmland with many Colonial period houses.  And we got back in time to "help" Nancy prepare "pates" (pronounced paa-tay) a Crucian favorite, somewhat like empanadas and then enjoy them and salad with good friends of Nancy's who joined us for dinner.  Our brief sojourn was not long enough but we had such a nice time hat we were sad to leave as soon as we did, for Ulster Park.

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