I have missed the opportunity to write since my last shunpiking post, so I have been jotting down thoughts to share, but now I am also “on the road” and have that to share. So this post is not only “miscellaneous musings”, but also “day (or maybe two) trips.”
Currently I am sitting in my favorite spot by the fire in the lobby of The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. This seat has been a significant part of my life for the past 15 years, a tradition first started with Cathy on Valentine’s Day in 1996. From this seat I could hear her coming down the stairs before seeing her all “decked out” for dinner or breakfast.
I have also held down this Victorian sofa for a number of hours while she shopped, and I have read many a book here and watched people come and go in the lobby. But before I get to this week’s sojourn let me share my disjointed rambling thoughts of the past week.
Actually business has been so far off I look forward to writing – remember “to write about something is to live it twice.” And I have many writing projects in mind (have for years) besides my annual “keepsake booklet” that I prepare for our guests attending A CHRISTMAS CAROL. I don’t know if you have ever seen Dove chocolates that come individually wrapped with a saying or quotation inside. The first one I opened after losing Cathy said, “It is alright to do nothing!” – powerful. This past week I found two more powerhouses that I want to share: “The more you praise and celebrate life, the more there is in life to celebrate;” and, “Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
Recently I have been involved with several projects. Something I had thought about for years the Kaspers and I talked about in the spring. We started meeting in September to discuss the idea, and in keeping with a plaque I have had on my desk for decades, “The best way to get something done is to begin,” the first issue of THE WALPOLE CLARION was published the beginning of this month. For a long time there had been no single source of information of what was going on in town, no place for all organizations to tell what is coming up. A central feature is a 6 week calendar which as a centerfold has been designed to easily be hung on your icebox. The response has been very favorable, and my work on this worthwhile endeavor will help keep me occupied.
The response last weekend was also great for our Haunted Corn Maze, that as a member of The Walpole Players I am involved with. In fact, I occupied all last week building a 10 foot square witch’s house, and with Bill P’s help built a great coffin – well you need one in a haunted cemetery, and one never knows what may be inside. The corn maze is Friday and Saturday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, but Friday it poured. So, what to do said Ray, “I know it is dinner at Rowell’s Inn.” Here is what I posted on their Facebook page.
It is now Thursday afternoon, and I am back enjoying the front porch of The Red Lion Inn, and back to writing.
A trip to the inn was “on my list” to try to squeeze into October, hopefully in Black Beauty. Today would have been the perfect day to cruise here in her, but yesterday was beastly rain plus I needed the van to pick up 25 cartons of books from the widow of one of our favorite Connecticut customers. She had been asking me to get George’s books, and I had been dragging my feet to make the 3 hour trip, but we finally planned on yesterday and my thought was to return home spending two nights in Stockbridge. Carol lost her husband in a similar circumstance as I lost Cathy. Although dating in high school, they recently had reconnected and had been married only 3 ½ months. When “googling” to reconfirm directions to her home her Facebook page popped up. She had listed her Dad and brother’s names. WOW my Dad was good friends with her Dad, both antique car buffs, and I remember playing with her brother at car events 5 decades ago. I emailed her what I found. When I arrived we shared the similarities of our loses, remembered some car events and chatted away for over 3 hours. Just one more “small world” story. I got on the road at 3:30 with George’s books loaded up and headed back roads through New Preston past my old shop, around Lake Waramaug over to US Route 7. I have not travelled from New Preston to Canaan, Ct. on the Massachusetts border in the nine years since we moved. If you have not heard it before, US Route 7 is my favorite road, and the absolute best part which I have loved since I first discovered it in 1962 is the stretch from Cornwall Bridge to West Cornwall along the Housatonic River. I hate change, and this stretch of road has not changed. In fact, very little has changed on Route 7 from Kent, CT to Sheffield, Mass, and even from Sheffield through Great Barrington into Stockbridge I can probably point out the few salient changes of the last 4 plus decades. Just to give you a flavor of what I mean, visit my Somethings Never Change page on my website. Yes I need to update it and anxiously await being able to park Black Beauty in the same spot. Guess it will now be 2012 before that happens, but it will.
I arrived at The Red Lion Inn at 5:30 Wednesday, got settled, dressed for dinner and
staked out my favorite spot in front of the fire. A relaxing evening, nothing planned, but did decide that I would take a short drive today Thursday. Following breakfast and spending more time in the lobby I headed out shortly before 11AM to head up NY Route 22 to US20 to visit the various Lebanon areas and down NY 66 to the Chatham towns and villages. These are great TR3A roads with fantastic vistas, and immaculate farms, estates and rolling countryside. The main town of Chatham is a delight, and I highly recommend a sojourn through this countryside.
I travelled back to NY 22 via NY 203 passing Dan’s Diner in Spencertown. If I had not still been full from last night’s dinner and breakfast this morning I would have warmed a stool – next time!
My plan today was to get to the National Shrine of the Devine Mercy for Mass at 2PM. Usually I plan my trips to Stockbridge to attend Mass and then go down the hill to check into the Inn, but since I was still travelling yesterday I wanted to go today to continue this part of my tradition in visiting here. Cathy and I had often visited the shrine, but never at the right time to attend Mass.
Shortly after 3PM I was on the porch at the Inn typing away and then reading. When it got chilly I moved back to my spot (guess everyone knows to not sit there when I am here) to continue reading. Soon two ladies who were at Mass came in and we had a very nice talk (they commented on what I was reading). By 6:30 I went to my room to change for dinner at 7, and then back to my spot. I cannot tell you the pleasure I derive from my visits here.
But what was I reading today? Yesterday when I was visiting with Carol she told me that in George’s journey he was coming closer to God and the idea of death. He had read Don Piper’s 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN, and in gaining comfort from it began giving it to others. Carol gave me a copy of the shorter version ENCOURAGEMENT FROM 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN. Once I started, I finished it before dinner. Carol, I have marked my copy up focusing in on the powerful statements. Piper was pronounced dead, arrived in Heaven, but returned. His feelings and observations in one statement bring “comfort to those who grieve” and that comfort comes from knowing that your loved one is happy in Heaven. He had a hard time putting things into words, so I will not even try to paraphrase – just read the book. ‘Till next time, as always, yours, RAY