Thursday, June 11, 2009

Where have I been?

Chapter 1 --- Wherein our heroine arrives

I went to Northampton to visit with my Smith College friends. (I graduated in 1985 with a B.A. in Biochemistry.) Of course, I knew a lot of girls (I am supposed to say "women") at Smith, but really have maintained contact with only 2. They, individually and together, can make me laugh harder than anybody, so I had 3 days of re-connecting and lots of great laughter. I also walked around on campus a lot, took a few pictures, (even though I have yet to learn how to use my cam.), and enjoyed some great restaurants. We stayed at the Autumn Inn, which is on the edge of campus, and was probably there long before I ever heard of Smith. When you turn in, and drive through the archway, you find a tiny parking lot. See at the end of the parking lot, where the trees are? Can you tell that the land dips down into a little hollow at the end of the lot, behind the inn? If you walk back there, you'll see...... the swimming pool! The day we arrived, it would have been warm enough to at least lounge by the pool to cool off, and maybe even take a little dip before dinner. But it hasn't been filled yet. No great loss, the rest of the time we were there, while quite comfortable (a little nippy, at times), would not have been warm enough for swimming outside. And I think it's mostly in shade.
I guess I never realized how lush the vegetation is in Northampton. It's in the Pioneer Valley, and I remember it being very humid in the summer time, but being so veeeerry busy with my college gal activities, I hardly took notice of the botanicals, which is a shame because the campus itself is a botanical garden. I largely (but not completely) ignored this bounty. I had sooooo many more important things to think about. So maybe I'm making up for it.

This gorgeous bush was in somebody's yard. I took the pic from the sidewalk. No idea what it is, just very impressed with it.

This was also in someone's yard, but much closer to the sidewalk. Does anybody know what it is? It was all over Northampton. I remember it, and haven't seen any around pretty though.

This firewood was stacked neatly in the archway (see pic above), seasoning/drying for the coming fall and winter. It was so spring-summery beautiful there, it seemed impossible that it would ever change. But in my ever-so-dim memory, I remember the Indian summer, the waiting for Mountain Day, the nip in the air, the turning of the leaves and finally kicking and crunching my way through them on the sidewalk. And yes, the snow, it does come to Northampton, and there is frost on the old glass windows of the decades-old (maybe century-old) residence houses (not dormitories). But no longer do the students pad down the turning back stairs in their thick wool socks with an empty mug in hand, and ask the kitchen ladies in their crisp white uniforms for hot water for tea or cocoa out of the huge tea kettle permanently parked on the huge gas stove. The kitchen is now a laundry room. Times change. There is a large colonial-style fireplace at the Autumn Inn.

I've never been at the Autumn Inn for a leaf-peeping season, but here's what I imagine. A crackling fire throwing its warmth into the room. I hope they have warm cider and donuts(home-made) for the guests. I picture people in tweeds and Shetlands comparing birding notes, with cameras and field glasses hanging from their necks. But more likely they are in LLBean or Columbia fleeces, and talking to other people on iPhones about things that have nothing to do with birds or foliage or hiking paths. And they're not drinking cider, but on their way to drive downtown to Starbuck's. I think the nostalgic me is getting cynical......and I didn't even get to the Emily Dickinson museum while I was in the area.

1 comment:

Honore said...

I think the lovely bush is mountain laurel -- it's so pretty. We have a pink variety growing in our yard.