I recently took a magical two-weekend car trip in the Berkshires accompanied by my Aunt Valerie, and I want to thank everyone who helped make that all that it became. Val called it a "healing trip" and she was right. My mother had recently died, and I needed to heal. My first goal was to visit the graves of my parents, and everything expanded around that. So follow me.
tip: click on a picture to enlarge it
I spent a nostalgiac night at Rock Ridge with darling Ginny and Bob Duffy, who have been so wonderful to all of us. The place looked as gorgeous as ever, and I was enveloped in the presence of my parents as I walked all around the grounds. While there we visited the cemetery where my parents Arthur and Alice are buried.
Then we went over to the old family summer home on the other end of Lake Garfield, to see The Big House and The Cottage
Cocktails and sunset at Rattlesnake Ranch with Hil and Phil, followed by dinner at the Black Swan - the best Indian restaurant in the Berkshires (it received the Duffys' imprimatur!) An added bonus was having Pip and Kalika join us for the evening. It was so nice seeing them.
The Roadside Store
Lunch at Roadside with John and Stella Bodner, trading memories and learning about everything they've been up to recently. Of course I had "The Usual" - my mom's favorite, and the best sandwich ever created - a delicious combination of home baked bread, cheddar cheese, sprouts and tomatoes. I have no idea why it tastes so good, but it does--
every bit as good as the maple sugar leaf candies used to taste during our summer vacations here when we were kids. After lunch we did the back roads thing, going over Blue Hill Road, and then the back way through Tyringham, where we met some charming cows and a charming man (Aunt Val evenjumped out of the car!). Then later, back to the Bodner's house on Lake Garfield for more chatting. I finally got some news on
Bear Paw and Spirit. I'm trying to contact Spirit, so if anyone finds out how to do that, please let me know.
Then a delightful experience - attending Eleanor Kimberley's photography exhibit at the Sandisfield Arts Center.
I used to read some of the notes from Eleanor to my mother describing the Berkshire seasons, and finally had the pleasure of meeting her - just after she celebrated her 94th birthday! She has lived in Monterey her entire life, and was a reporter and a fine photographer and has many interesting stories to tell. She gave me this beautiful photograph she took of the Caesar's mushrooms that my mother found growing on her lawn in Sandisfield during her last summer in the Berkshires. Finding an Amanita Caesarea was a "peak experience", and Eleanor captured it perfectly!
The other major goal of the trip was to spend some time with
Ed and Nancy Somers at their lovely home in Valatie. Uncle Ed, who just recently celebrated his 80th birthday has been working on the Somers family tree for years and years. The tape and cameras were rolling during an incredible two-day interview with Uncle Ed and Aunt Nancy. The research on the Somers family that they have done over the years is absolutely amazing, and you can appreciate the amount of work they've put into it (and still do) when viewing the results, which I hope will some day be made available for all to enjoy and learn from. The family owes them a huge debt of gratitude. For now here's a small glimpse into Uncle Ed's Archive.
Great Barrington, Mass.
We learned many things, and had a few family myths debunked :O Uncle Ed also pointed the way to some of our excursions:
- The McCormick family plot in Great Barrington.
- The Great Barrington Airport, which was originally built and owned by my great grandfather, Arthur S. Somers I.
- St. Peter's RC Church, where we found the
altar donated in memory of great-great grandparents Thomas and
Margaret McCormick, by their granddaughter Nellie Nugent (how many times did we attend Mass there? And who knew?)
Finally our trail led us to Lawrence Tavern in Canaan,
which was built by our ancestor, Isaac Lawrance. This was where American troops stopped in (no Brits allowed!) for R&R during the Revolutionary War!
West Lebanon, N.Y.
Many thanks to Cousin Clint and wife Carol for their boundless hospitality and humor in assisting "Thelma and Louise" on their zany car trip. The location of their house made it quick and easy to get back and forth to the Berkshires, and it was great fun visiting them and sharing some good dinners, especially the delicious Greek pizza that you can't get in New York City.
I've come full circle to Cousin Laura and husband Tim, and the place where it all began and ended (the trip, that is). Staying in their beautiful home brought back many memories of that wonderful winter my parents and I spent in Oaxaca.
It was so good to see Laura and Tim and their children Julian and Brendan, and Cousin Vickie too!
Blessings on all who helped make this a very special trip. Love, Pam
Earth my body, water my blood,
air my breath & fire my