Friday, October 31, 2014

A stop in Amherst

Emily Dickinson's house is now a very nice museum.  The grounds are quite beautiful.

She was an interesting character, introverted and reclusive.  Although many of her poems are a bit dark, I find this one very nice.


"Nature" is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse— the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Colors Spectacular

As the drive north from Sturbridge, MA began, the colors became even more spectacular.  It seemed we were stopping every few miles to admire the brilliant shades of foliage.  No wonder it took all day to travel 60 miles!!

One sighting of colors was such eye candy, it seemed unbelievable. Purplish-pink leaves?  The car slowed immediately to take a right turn into a driveway.  Turns out it was the entry into a Jr. High School.  Nobody seemed to notice or care that we parked the car, walked around for some photos of the leaves, and then drove through the campus and back out on to the highway.  Maybe it happens often.  I don't know. 

This was my favorite photo from this stop; talk about spectacular!  (None of these photos are enhanced, by the way.)

One thing I saw, which would be rare to see at home, is one tree with all the colors...from green to yellow to orange and red.  Wow.  Didn't know there were trees that sported the entire array of fall hues. 

Central, northern Massachusetts was a beautiful sight.  What a treat to drive through the countryside and small towns.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Next stop: Sturbridge, MA

The motel room in Sturbridge was so charming.

The next day was an exploration of Sturbridge, especially Sturbridge Village, which is a recreated area to mimic what this town looked liked in the 1800's. 

The grounds were beautiful, and one could wander around and look into all the buildings, including a blacksmith's shop, a candle maker's shop, meeting rooms, a well-to-do-residence, etc.  Many guides were there, dressed in period costumes, ready to share information about that period of history in Massachusetts.
Blacksmith's shop

Yes, I even got to make two candles of my own!

Loved the harpsichord in the background. 

A ride on a horse drawn wagon took us through a covered bridge.

The poles are actually a "machine" constructed to get well water.
It was another beautiful day to tour a quaint town in the 1800's.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dinner at Barnstable Bay

In this shop, the artists made all kinds of glass fish and glass shells for decorative purposes.
After leaving Plymouth, a short tour of Cape Cod seemed like it would fit into the itinerary.  It was so interesting to see the architecture.  We truly stumbled onto a great place for dinner in the town of Barnstable.  This was the view from our table as the sun was setting.  The tide was out, but when it comes in, it raises the docks and boats about 16 feet. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Plimoth Plantation

A couple miles outside the town of Plymouth is Plimoth Plantation.  The buildings in this location recreate  how Plymouth appeared in the 1620's, once the Puritans had built houses and established some farming.  In several of the houses one finds "residents" able to tell visitors a great deal about their journey and their first years in Plimoth.

One of the challenges for the Puritans was negotiating with the Wampanog Indians, who had lived on this land for many years.  The European explorers who had come previously, had treated the tribe harshly, sometimes taking them as slaves, and nearly wiping out the entire tribe with the diseases they brought with them.  However, the Puritans and Wampanog learned to live together peacefully. William Bradford made a noble effort to befriend the Indians, and Massasoit was a great help and friend, teaching them to farm and to deal with the harsh New England elements.

As visitors walk toward Plimoth Plantation, they walk through a Wampanog village, which shows how their camps may have been constructed.  One interesting  area  in the camp was where large logs were being gutted for canoes by keeping a controlled burn going in the log.

Walking down toward the water, one finds the main street of Plimoth.  The two pictures below (put them mentally side-by-side) show one of the more well-to-do homes.

The small huts with the thatched roofs are cozy.  What always has amazed me is that these houses were constructed with a chimney, but inside the house a fire is built below the chimney opening, but there is nothing to channel the smoke up to the chimney.  Can you imagine how often these rooms would be filled with smoke?  The woman below was putting vegetables in the pot for a porridge.

I was interested to find out from this Plimoth resident that  all the Puritans became farmers, even if they had been weavers, or some other profession in England.  Also they did not kill any of their animals to eat, as they kept them to build up a herd.  Even by 1627, they still had not put beef on their tables.

Most houses had a small garden area.  We  also saw some sheep, goats, and chickens.

Hmmm...I need a costume.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Next stop: Plymouth

The Mayflower

The weather was perfect for touring...and Plymouth was enjoying the leaf-peepers.  After breakfast, the day started with a tour of the Mayflower. What a great little ship, which made an extraordinary sailing, bringing Puritans to North America.

The man sitting with the crossed legs is "Captain Jones."

Navigator's and First Mate's quarters

The tour guides on the ship were terrific!  Some were in period costume, telling their stories as if they had not lived a day past the late 1620's.  I learned from "Captain Jones" that there were many ships called the Mayflower, as it was a popular name in that day.  So you went by the Captain's name; for instance, this would have been Captain Jones' Mayflower.  The ship brought 102 Puritans, several animals (goats, sheep, cows, chickens).  However, because of scurvy, 55 of them died after they got to Plymouth.  It took 9 weeks to make the voyage, but they were actually on the ship for 7 months, living on it, as there was nowhere else to live.  Another interesting fact was that they all had rations of 1 gallon of beer a day--even for children.
Below deck, where 102 Puritans made the journey.  Two ladies on the right told their stories of sailing to America.

All 102 Puritans lived below deck with the animals they were transporting.  Two ladies (tour guides) were acting the parts of those who made the journey, and they said they would never make such a journey again.  It was crowded, and they didn't get much fresh air; they were not allowed to go above deck because they would get in the sailors' way.  Oh yes, and the boat you see below (floating next to the Mayflower) was also taken apart and transported below deck, and then it was reassembled once they got to America and used to explore the coast and rivers. I can't imagine how they got all their supplies, the boat, the animals, and the people all packed in that space.  Must have been disgusting conditions.

This is not a good picture of Plymouth Rock, but I think the first time anyone sees it, they find it surprisingly small.  The engraved date of 1620 is still in good shape; some say that the rock was originally  somewhat bigger and that pieces of it have been chipped away.  Who knows?  It is certainly well guarded in modern years, with this giant portico built around it.

Jenny's Grist Mill is another site in Plymouth.  The water wheel and old grinding wheel are still in operation, and they continue to grind corn there on a regular basis.

Jenny's Grist Mill

Leydon Street became a main street in Plymouth, and this is the street that has been recreated at Plymouth Plantation, a mile or two away.  On Leydon Street is the Sparrow House, many gift shops, restaurants, book stores, etc.  Wish there had been more time to explore.
The Sparrow House
The Sparrow House is the only house still standing in Plymouth which was actually lived in by a Puritan in the 1600's.  It was wonderful to walk through and see how modestly and simply they lived.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

From the Freedom Trail

The Paul Revere statue is quite impressive, as is the steeple of the Old North Church.  The church is quite beautiful, and the enclosed pews are so charming and reminiscent of congregations coming to church on cold mornings, keeping warm with boxes of coals for their feet.
"One if by land; two if by sea..."

Very near the church is a building which houses a printing press and a house of chocolate.  A young man was dressed in period costume, demonstrating how colonists set type and printed one sheet at a time.  He printed a copy of The Declaration of Independence, which tourists could then purchase.

The young lady, also dressed in period costuming, showed onlookers how many ingredients went into making the chocolate of the day.  She gave us a small sample of hot chocolate to taste, and it was very tasty.  It was thought that chocolate had medicinal powers and was often offered to the soldiers.  She also pointed out in a book of famous paintings many which showed ladies with their chocolate pots (like tea pots) and small cups, enjoying hot chocolate in their parlors. 

Boston Harbor is quite beautiful, and a park near the water was a quite green space near busy city streets.

I was intrigued by this statue of Christopher Columbus because it was made out of the same marble as Michelangelo's statue of David.