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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Mount

Visited Edith Wharton's (1862-1937) home, "The Mount," in Lenox, Mass. yesterday. The house is interesting, Wharton, herself, more so. The grounds are beautiful. Wharton lived here from 1902 to 1911. Surprisingly, one is given great freedom to roam through the house independently, though I highly recommend the house tour. They offer a garden tour as well.
Wharton was the first female author to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature with her "The Age of Innocence." Many know her book "Ethan Frome." Between 1900 and 1938, Edith wrote over 40 books, both novels and novellas, and 85 short stories.
If you join a local museum that is a member of the North American Reciprocal Museum Association -- something we do with our The Clark museum membership -- you enter at no cost.

A bit reminiscent of Yaddo (Saratoga Springs), though actually more beautiful.

Edith Wharton valued trees.

Her 5,000 volume book collection is here. About half the collection is on view here in her library and the remainder in storage. Oddly, she did most of her writing in her bed.

The collection had entered into private hands for many years but the organization that runs The Mount wisely paid a pretty penny to restore it to its rightful home. Many of the books have Wharton's notes penciled in.

Wharton's kitchen table sat eight. She, rightfully, knew that any more than that number doesn't really work for good shared conversation. The round table also promotes it.

Corner of Wharton's bedroom.

There are many sculptures on the grounds.

Wharton was intimately involved in the design of the house.

Now on my "What to Read" list.

Alta Restaurant in Historic Lenox -- a great lunch can be had here after a morning visit to The Mount.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Trail at Lake Shaftsbury State Park

Public Beach at Lake Shaftsbury State Park

Took a 45-minute drive from Grafton to Lake Shaftsbury State Park yesterday and hiked the nature trail around the lake. Beautiful park, well-groomed trails, awesome wetlands and more!

A pleasure to hike with bridges like this.

Video of the wetlands at Lake Shaftsbury

This had been a very large tree.

Spotted a very large heron here.

Stay with this one... yep, our hike was interrupted by a locomotive!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Everett Cave

Buddy Bob Providing Perspective at Everett Cave
I've posted previously on the trails at Southern Vermont College. Several days ago, a group of friends and I hiked the Cave Trail, which leads to the Everett Cave. This cave is described on the college's website:

"The Cave Trail, one of the paths running along the side of Mt. Anthony, gets its name from the Everett Cave, a marble solution cave that cuts into the side of the mountain. A solution cave is one that is formed when acidic water carves away the stone. The cave features many interesting dripstone formations, which are best known as stalactites and stalagmites. These are formed by accumulating mineral deposits, and their names are derived from the Greek word meaning “that which drips.”

Click here for a trail map.

Buddy Bob is sent in to check for bears. He figured, if there were any, they probably speak Bulgarian. Brave man, that Bob!

View to north from trail -- Bennington Battle Monument in distance.

View to the east from the trails -- college's athletic field.

Everett Mansion -- main campus building

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Silo Songs - Hancock Shaker Village

Silo Songs (video)

A historic wooden silo in Pittsfield, Mass., is the site of a new, immersive sound installation. Silo Songs, a collaboration between Hancock Shaker Village and Brad Wells, Williams’ Lyell B. Clay Artist in Residence, is inspired by hymnals and song sheets from the college’s Shaker Collection and the library at Hancock Shaker Village. “To be invited into a project where I get to play with sounds is a gift,” says Wells, who is the artistic director of the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

New Skete Monasteries

New Skete
Several days ago, we visited the beautiful New Skete Monastery 4 miles east of Cambridge, New York. This Eastern Orthodox Monastery was founded in 1966. 

The churches, gardens, bell tower, and hiking trail are open for self-guided tours, Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday. The grounds are closed during community retreat times (mid-August through mid-September, and our mid-winter retreat, in February).  Self-guided tour brochures are available at the bell tower. Click here for more information.

We toured the beautiful grounds and churches and then hiked the red trail (there are a number of trails detailed on a map available in front of the monastery).
The monks of New Skete hold retreats and also breed and train german shepard dogs. The nuns of New Skete also hold retreats and they make cheesecakes in their factory.

Following our tour of the New Skete Monastery and hike, we drove the two miles east to the Nun's gift shop and purchased one of the scrumptious cheese cakes.

Church of Holy Wisdom
The larger church, designed and built by the monks working with a local builder.

Temple of the Transfiguration of Christ
Designed and built by the monks in 1969. The design is inspired by the distinctive wooden churches in Eastern Europe. The floor is from local slate.

The Bell Tower was built in 1980 and holds seventeen bells. In designing the tower, the Monks were inspired by the wooden bell towers of the Carpathian Mountains in Eastern Europe. The peals announcing major services are composed of rapid rhythmic patterns played by hand. The three large bells were made by the Meneely Bell Foundry in Troy.

Monastic Cemetery

We hiked the Red Trail, where we passed this cool stone wall.

My buddy Bob and I ponder a fork in the trail.

A Jack-in-the-Pulpit spotted on the Red Trail.

There can be beauty in dead trees.

Looking up at the monastery and churches from the cemetery.

We then drove 2 miles west to the Nun's monastery, and I purchased one of their scrumptious cheesecakes at the self-service area of the Gift Shop.