It has been over two months since I last wrote here. At the moment (March 4th) I am in front of the fire at The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. My “new” Macbook Air is in my lap and I am using Apple’s Pages for the first time — often the only way to learn new software is just start (I left my PC laptop home — only have Apple products with me). Unfortunately I am not as mobile as I would like. My operated on left foot is wonderful, but last Friday I awoke with terrible pain in my right knee. I either threw my gait way off swelling the bursa, or possibly aggravated a gout reaction following enjoying some crab cakes. After 5 days I am somewhat better, but will call the doctor if I hit a week in pain — I do just accept my aches and pains.
Now it is Tuesday morning, 5 March, and I last night I started reading Archer Mayor’s GATEKEEPER and have continued this morning in front of the fire for over an hour and a half. It is 10AM and I have no real plans for today. Soon I will head down my favorite US Route 7 to Great Barrington and maybe further. I would like to visit the kitchen store in Great Barrington. Why a kitchen store? Read on.
Last week Mike, my contractor, showed up with his stone man to look at my counter tops. Awhile back I told Mike that I wanted to change from white counter tops, and eliminate the raised bar in the island. I had told Mike what I wanted for the counters color wise, and when they walked in, right on top was a fantastic sample of Vermont Serpentine Stone – a marble – don’t even ask the price. Mike said they could start this week, “but I will be away Mike, oh, but you have a key, have at it,” I replied. Well, Mike arrived Monday and my center island was cut down to the new size before I left. The template for the new tops should be completed before I return, and hopefully next week all will be done.
Awhile back I researched counter bar stools since I will need new shorter ones. It only made sense to sit on something before buying on-line, so I searched furniture stores in the Holyoke area on the way to Stockbridge. Responsive email reply from Pete at Eddie’s Furniture (since the 1880s), and I planned it as my first stop. He had exactly what I wanted with two in the warehouse. I bought those, paid for two more, and will pick those up on my next trip to The Red Lion Inn. Better price than the internet, and assembled, and very nice. I then explored the old industrial mill and canal area of Holyoke finding it all fascinating. It was also fortuitous because GATEKEEPER, I later found, is partially set there. I enjoy Archer Mayor’s writing, but it is really great to known the areas he is describing as it brings the action right to life.
Today when I closed my book I finally left the Inn after 11 heading south to Great Barrington only to find that the kitchen store’s one day closed is Tuesday. Well, the quest
for a new stainless steel dish rack and drainer will continue. Lunch followed at The Neighborhood Diner – a walk around town (leg doing better) – and then continued my meander down my favorite US Route 7 (now in my 50th year doing so), stopping at the Great Barrington Antiques Center. This is about the only place left as most establishments Cathy and I visited no longer exist. An item caught my eye. “You don’t need anything, Ray,” I mused, “but your Street Peanut Roaster and 1902 Cretors Sidewalk Popcorn Machine don’t fit in the house,” I then rationalized. Some negotiation, and my new “toy” was loaded into the van, and off I continued south.
I am pretty familiar with this “neck of the woods” but not all the back roads, and each time of year everything looks different anyway. I am not usually here with all the leaves off the trees, and the ride over to Ashley Falls looked totally different (wanted to buy the old mill and water wheel there in the early 1980s). I crossed the line into Canaan, Connecticut and turned west on US 44 towards Millerton, NY where I usually can make some needed buys (got a printing press on my last visit – I know, how many does one man need – six at last count). But at the last minute I decided to cut over to Falls Village not
having totally explored that area. I saw the old railroad tracks, and what appeared to be the remains of a canal. Always a good place for a historian to stop is the local library, and the woman who greeted me as I looked around happened to be the archivist for the historical society. “Yes, the canal is from the 1850s,” she told me. “Where is the church camp meeting ground,” I then asked, and she showed me on the map inviting me back to see the exhibit on Pine Grove at the historical society in the near future. Having an interest in the 19th century Victorian church camp meeting grounds I back tracked (that is also true shunpiking) and discovered the entrance to the grove. Such fun, and I hope to visit again in season sometime.
Then off on more back roads that I had not been on in quite awhile to Southfield, Massachusetts to the old Buggy Whip Factory. For many years in the late 1990s I had space there for about 2,000 books which sold well. But sadly, like so many other fine antique picking spots, its doors too are now closed. Back through Marlborough the back way around Great Barrington it was nice to see the areas devastated years ago by a hurricane now reforested. Parking the car behind the inn, and walking towards the door I stopped and thought, “it is nice to be home!”
Yes, you are correct, I am back in front of the fire, and after dinner I will return here to read and write and prepare images for this post (remember, all for the first time on a Mac). Tomorrow I will do the same, but leave by noon having completed my two night stay — the only way to do it I have resolved with the full day in between. I will head up my favorite US Route 7 into Vermont and continue to explore familiar haunts. One stop for sure will be in Arlington at the Dorothy Canfield Fisher library — my “players” friends know why. Then comes our CABIN FEVER RADIO FOLLIES on the 23rd, and rehearsals begin for TOURISTS ACCOMMODATED (by Dorothy Canfield Fisher). I have been thinking about other trips this year. Have bought a train ticket from Montreal to Halifax so I can say I have been coast to coast in Canada by train. I have also booked a voyage from Istanbul to Luxor Egypt via the Suez Canal (then fly to Cairo and the Pyramids) — just to peak your curiosity. There are a few other trips I “have to make,” so “stay tuned” and thank you for reading, yours, RAY
Good morning, Wed, March 6th, and I realized that I forgot one image. This is one reason I love The Red Lion Inn.
RAY, I have been wondering why you have been so quiet. Thought maybe you were out hiking in Yellowstone Park again, but with a recovering surgery that did not make sense. Nice to hear that you are out and doing so well. Ironically, I have been dreaming of new granite countertops. Maybe you would be inclined to pay for mine? Know how you love the Red Lion, so have a great night, trip home and be safe.
As always a pleasure to read about your adventures and travels. Makes me feel that I am right there with you. Enjoy.
Hi Ray You are one busy man!
Good for you! I enjoy reading about your travels-I have been to those Vitorian houses in
the summer-so charming-love the colores-check out the wooden windmiles down the road.
Roberta from Star Island
Hi Ray, Why didn’t you let me know that you were going to be in southern Berkshire County for thee days? Also, I hope you also made it to “Great Finds” just down the road (on the other side) from the Gt. Barrington Antiques Center. I have about 1000 books in there as well as some other collectibles. March is sale month there and just about everything in the store is on sale. I have a book at home about the Pine Grove and would lend it to you if you would like to read it. The Falls Village Library has a sale on the first Sat. of every month. Most of the books for sale there are donations from Hamilton Books, located in Falls Village. Hope to hear from you soon.