Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What I Found to Love in the Berkshires....

After a night of sleep filled with the strangest dreams imaginable (inspired, no doubt, by whatever prescription medication my friend's well-meaning elderly mom coerced me to take), I awoke feeling excited about my first day in the Berkshires.

Even though I had not read a single brochure.  This was going to be devil-may-care, spirit of adventure wild times.

Actually, it was laziness.

I enjoy letting other people plan things for me sometimes.  I travel alone often enough that it's nice to kick back and let someone else wade through the online reviews.  Since this trip was by invitation from my friend, Mariellyn, she had an itinerary.  One which was immediately trashed by today's weather.  It threatened rain; not a good time to visit a garden.

So, it was off to visit Hancock Shaker Village.  (#11 of 143 Top Things to Do in the Berkshires on TripAdvisor.  Okay, so I did do some research.)   In spite of what we knew about the attraction, we both entered thinking we'd spend an hour there at most.  We left mom behind to read a book she was excited about because she didn't feel up to walking.

Three hours later we were immersed and feeling guilty about having left her alone for so long.

First of all, it was scenic, peaceful, and pretty.

Secondly, it was highly entertaining.  The volunteers in Shaker dress were informative and friendly; every one of them seemed to be invested in the village, enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge.  We especially enjoyed an impressive demonstration of the Shakers' use of water power given to us by a volunteer named Ted. Imagine staring down into a hole three stories deep and seeing/hearing THIS thundering powerhouse spewing tons of high pressured water; watching it moving wheels, turning gears.  Pretty awesome.

I was glad it wasn't crowded because the rope that blocked the gaping holes in the ground did not look adequate to the task of preventing me from plummeting to a watery grave if I'd been pushed.  Not too many lawyers in Massachusetts, I'm guessing.

Ted even let me try my hand at a water-powered lathe. (Again...I suspect a lack of lawyers.)  Sadly, there are no pics of my prowess.  Or the splintered wood.  And speaking of wood, there were demonstrations on the construction of Shaker furniture and the classic Shaker boxes.  I got more tips from this guy about wood cutting than I ever learned from sneaking onto my Uncle Charlie's workbench when I was eleven. (Thanks, Jack!  I'll be looking for you on This Old House in January!)

At the discovery center for the kids (big and little ones) you could watch a weaving demonstration.  This big kid got to dress up like a Shaker woman there and MILK A FAKE COW.

Seriously.  I ask you.  How many times in life does one get to milk a FAKE COW???

The village has to be even more lovely when the flowers are out in summer.  We passed lovage and yarrow in the garden.  And there were goats, chickens, turkeys, pigs, sheep, and more. Raised in the city?  Plenty of cows to moo at.  We could have stayed longer but we were sure mom was sitting home as hungry as we were.

After a very late lunch, we drove around.

With scenery like this, I can hardly wait to see what else the Berkshires have in store for me.

I might even read some brochures.

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