Monday, July 13, 2015
We are staying in a beautiful house in Great Barrington. It is large and carefully finished and furnished. The 5 bedrooms and 4 ½ bathrooms offer the 6 adults and 3 children, plus an occasional guest or two, ample room to interact or hide. There is also over 12 acres surrounding us with green space and trees and a pond full of frogs. While there is no swimming pool, there is a serious hot tub.
Normally, I avoid reporting ordinary pleasures, but we had so many interesting and pleasant experiences that were characteristic of the region that I have to pass them on.
On Saturday, we went to the Berkshire Botanical Garden, 5 West Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, on 15 acres of cultivated land. It had flowers and trees and shrubs and vegetables presented with attention to information and aesthetics. Not the sort of destination that Grandpa Alan usually seeks, but definitely worth a visit. Lunch, for those of us who could sit still without banging a toy on a table, was at Prairie Whale, 178 Main St., Great Barrington, with somewhat untypical, better than average pub food.
Saturday night, the second generation feted America’s Favorite Epidemiologist (Mom to some) with a dinner prepared in house by Chef Marianna Morrison. The Moroccan menu included eggplant croquettes with tarragon aioli, watermelon, mint and feta skewers, babaganouj, hummus, labine, spiced salmon with chermoula (cilantro-based) sauce, couscous with citrus, pomegranate and pistachios. You may be drooling just reading about it, and, while sloppy, that would be an appropriate response. Consider using Chef Morrison for a celebration anywhere in the Berkshires.
Sunday morning, we went to Tanglewood for an open concert beginning at 10 AM. We sat on the lawn under a cloudless sky, necessitating moving around to stay in the shade, except when I fell asleep. The 2+ hour chamber music program was eclectic and far reaching, including Mozart, Debussy and a couple of modern composers, Marc Neikrug and Natalie Draper. For the giddy among you, the overall theme of the concert might have been Bach to Bach, Johann Sebastien Bach, Cantata No. 155 (Mein Gott, wie lang, ach lange, appropriately translated as "enough already") to Jan Bach, a contemporary American horn player and composer.
Monday, we visited Mass MOCA in North Adams. While some of the works on display are opaque, to be polite, there were some particularly interesting items, notably Clifford Ross: Landscape Seen & Imagined, featuring a 24' by 114' (yes, feet) photograph of a mountain. For dinner, we had grown to 11 people, and headed for a pizza joint in Great Barrington. Although we thought that, in spite of the size of our group, an early dinner on a Monday night would not be a problem. Wrong, especially when ahead of us was a party of 21. 20 Railroad Restaurant, 20 Railroad Street, Great Barrington, a popular pub found room for us, with very good results. The Oakland Heartthrob and I shared a delicious portion of “Dragon Wings,” chicken wings in a sweet and spicy sauce laced with bourbon. I followed that with a chili Thai burger, what an excellent hamburger would taste like in Bangkok.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Given the close quarters with our three grandchildren, my fund of knowledge was increased. I learned, for instance, that there is a video game entitled “Plants vs. Zombies.” The official description is “A mob of fun-loving zombies is about to invade your home, and your only defense is an arsenal of 49 zombie-zapping plants.” The scary part was not the zombies, but how the 4-year 11-month old grandson had completely mastered this bizarre arrangement of lights, sounds, colors and shapes. Remarkably, the game requires a strategic sense in selecting and placing your zombie-zapping plants, which this kid handled with the aplomb of an eight-year old.
Ten folks came over for drinks in the afternoon, and to swoon over our (temporary) lavish accommodations. And they started swooning even before they started drinking.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Everyone but me went to the Clark Art Institute, 225 South Street, Williamstown, a gem of a museum abutting Williams College. I had a couple of errands to run, so I went driving over hill and dale for a few hours. Back together, we went to Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, 358 George Carter Road, Becket (or, 1 mile from Burt’s place), for the free 6:15 PM “Inside/Out” show. New Generation Dance Company, a tango-inspired company, performed on an outdoor stage in front of an expansive green landscape. All of our generations enjoyed this, one of a large number of free programs now offered at Jacob’s Pillow. If we were staying around longer, I’m sure that we would go back.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
We had lunch at Spoon, 26 Housatonic Street, Lenox, an excellent choice for breakfast or lunch. I had two small pieces of fried chicken on a waffle, drizzled with maple syrup. Really good. The congenial Cohens came over for drinks and stayed for dinner, helping us wind up a wonderful week.
Friday, July 17, 2015
Our drive home was uneventful, no traffic until we hit area code 212. Clearly, I stayed away from the BIG ISSUES while on this vacation, but I had a joyous reentry to the real world when I read the bold words of Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, on the trail to the Republican presidential nomination. A reporter in New Hampshire asked him yesterday if he was a conservative or an independent. While we know that Walker never finished college and, therefore, may not have taken a full sequence of political theory, he responded thoughtfully: “I’m an American, that’s what I am. I’m an American.” Could Fillmore, Harding or Bush have said it better?