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Archive for April, 2012

While I love all of New England, and have explored much, if not most of it, I suppose I’m prejudiced about my home state of Massachusetts.

If you are coming here for a visit, or if you already live here and are not familiar with Shelburne Falls, this artsy little town will draw you in.  I have heard, and although I cannot confirm it, that it is the home of comedian Bill Cosby.

About an hour and a half drive west of Boston, out on the Mohawk Trail and in the foothills of the scenic Berkshires, you will be delighted to find a picturesque town settled on each side of a wonderful river.  Over that river, there is a foot-bridge called The Bridge of Flowers.  I am writing about Shelburne Falls today because my computer window next to me is open and I am able to see Japonica blooming and maples sprouting greenery.  All of this magical color reminded me that there are places of beauty to visit, and the Bridge of Flowers, I’m certain, is beginning to burst forth in color and every imaginable form of radiant growth is waiting to have its turn charming the walkers on the bridge.

While the bridge stretches over the deep blue, depending on how carefully you examine the plants and their proper names on little markers, it may take you ten minutes or an hour to cross the path.  Every few steps, I love to stop and take a look at where I am on the river – the town on either side has its interesting assets.  After a few moments to appreciate the view from that standpoint, it’s back to the variety of plantings – they are not only beautiful, but educational.  I learn something botanical each time I’m there – the bridge is very well-loved and maintained.

There are numerous shops filled with arts in the town’s center – the place draws the artist, whether the medium is paint, clay, glass, fabric, and since I’m a writer and painter, I’ll throw in writing – I’m positive that writers live there, urged on with their craft by the wondrous surroundings.  I wish I could divide myself up and exist in many different locales.  There are so many great places to dwell, but I need to remind myself that in New England, the variety of landscape/seascape is so close, you can be in the mountains in the morning and the shore in the afternoon, I should not complain about being “set”.  I’m lucky, in the woods by a river, with lots of creatures running around.

I also wish to draw you to the town’s Glacial Potholes.  This is an amazing place within a short walk in the town’s center.  The potholes are filled with water while higher rock forms allow a place to sunbath and sit.  At one time, before 2002, you were allowed into the potholes to cool off and it looked like enormous fun.  Now, I am told that due to the danger of the area flooding at a moment’s notice, the town has declared the walking on and bathing in potholes off-limits.  Some people still go onto the rocks, but if the police see you, they’ll shoo you away.  If nothing else, viewing the area is a feast for the eyes.  You’ll want to bring your camera for this town, you may never see anything else quite like it.

Take in the glass-blowing shop and the offerings of other creative hands – you’ll never forget where you bought your classy souvenier – I am positive that Shelburne Falls will find its way into your heart and senses.  I’m hoping to head there soon myself :>)

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A seven-mile slice of dark blue water runs from the towns of Bourne to Sandwich, Massachusetts eliminating a one-hundred and thirty-five mile journey around the cape.

Although the initial dream of pilgrim, Miles Standish, building the Cape Cod Canal was an overwhleming prospect for men without engineering experience and proper equipment.  It was a New Yorker, August Belmont, who made the canal a reality.  Opening in 1914, Mr. Belmont saw the canal as a business opportunity – he charged tolls to those who chose to use it, which resulted in many opting to travel the length around the cape instead of using the new waterway.  In 1928, the United States Government purchased the canal, widened and deeped it, using 1400 men who were victims of the depression.   In 1940, the canal became the widest sea-level canal in the world, with more than 20,000 vessels using it each year.  In just a few minutes’ walk along the scenic stretch, you are likely to see private yachts and fishing boats, tugboats, and ocean-going vessels of pleasure and commercial variety.

The walkways, one on each side of the canal, are wide enough on which to drive a vehicle, the Army Corps of Engineers use it all the time.  Walkers, with or without dogs,  bikers and roller-skaters, enjoy a fairly smooth and beautiful place in which to gather some fresh sea air and exercise.  It is a social place where strangers nod or say hello to those they encounter along the way.  The place is not to be missed as one travels over either bridge to the cape – it is well worth the stop to take a brief walk, to sip a hot coffee, or just to day-dream.  I have always loved waving to the foreign ships.  Sometimes I can’t see a single human on board, other times, there are many.  I wave no matter what, kind of like letting them know that this is my country and they’re welcome here.

The plush greenery of spring through autumn is like no other.  The bayberry, beach plum, and Ponderosa Pine trees are not only beautiful, they are hardy.  Often the trunks and branches are twisted from persistent winds and penetrating salt mist.  The foliage reminds me of strength and survival, qualities we all need to function well.  I have a hard time deciding what to be aware of most, the controlled flow of the sea or the greenery – I try to do it all.   I hope you will also.

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If you have yet to check out my blog, and you are interested in the offerings of Plymouth, Massachusetts, please take a moment to check out LovingNewEngland – I’ve written a piece on Burial Hill, the oldest cemetery in America.  It is an extraordinary place, high, over-looking Plymouth’s historic harbor.  Some of the most wonderfully huge old Beech trees have been living there for centuries, providing shade to little creatures and us humans :>)  It is a place of interest and serenity – don’t miss it.

My next blog will concern the Cape Cod Canal, and as I think of more that I love about Plymouth, I will include that as well.

Thanks for stopping by :>)

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I’ve been going to Plymouth, about fifteen miles from my home, for most of my life.  Until less than two years ago, I had no idea where Burial Hill was located.  It’s kind of like “hiding in plain sight” – the cemetery is literally in the center of town, behind some commercial buildings such as antique shops and cafes.

While Cole’s Hill was the first burying ground, the first official cemetery was Burial Hill, which is laden with the history of the pilgrims, and ornate as well as sad, monuments to those lost.

My introduction to Burial Hill came with a huge sense of grief.  A wonderful and talented young man, a writing and art friend, literally died on Burial Hill less than two years ago.  He was walking through the cemetery on route to his apartment, a short-cut from Plymouth’s center, when a sudden storm came up.  He took refuge from the pouring rain beneath his favorite Beech tree.  Witnesses said that there was one clap of thunder that fateful day, one flare of vicious lightening.  That lightening stole a life on September 8th, 2010  – “Wolf” was just twenty-nine years of age.  Ironically, centuries earlier, a young woman died in that exact location, also at the will of lightening.  I go there once a week to feed the birds he used to feed, and I always hope that Wolf and the young woman are hand in hand, those two with lightening as their melding force.  He was handsome – I imagine her as being beautiful.

Burial Hill is more than a place of rest – it is one of the most beautiful places in which to walk, to read, to exercise your dog and yourself.  I would guess that it is about an eight-acre parcel of land, dotted with massive old Beech trees and meandering paths.  Benches await the weary or thoughtful.  Since it is literally a hill, the views from there are spectacular.

Early grave markers were made of wood and have disintegrated over the years.  Slim slabs of stone slate have maintained the integrity of the place and the past, but some of them are meeting with and have met breakage – it’s disheartening to see some elaborate markers face down on the ground – it is surely an on-going issue to keep up with the maintenance of these very personal dedications to life lived in hard times.  One marked stone is that of Edward Gray, dated 1681.  He was one of the Mayflower’s passengers, born in Essex, England.

During the weather-permitting months, May through November, ghost tours are offered which take the traveler through Burial Hill at sundown.  The tours begin at the waterfront, near to where the Mayflower is docked.

While there are many wonderful offerings in “America’s Hometown”, I would advise, if not beg you to visit Burial Hill.  You will come away with a feeling for our beginnings in this incredible country, and the sights of the town and harbor will enchant you.

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If Plymouth, Massachusetts is a destination for you, you might benefit from reading this first.  I live just north of Plymouth and visit there frequently for walks along the harbor and dining.  I know the place in detail, because I love it.

While I expect to write about Plymouth often, for this post, I”d like to concentrate on good places to eat.  One of our favorites, a place where the ambience is fairly rustic, is Wood’s on the town wharf.  The seafood there is great – it tends to be mostly fried, but once in a while, it’s a treat.  Their clams are generously served, as are their many seafood offerings.  I only eat seafood without a face (clams and scallops), but I understand that I’m in the minority there.  I get teased a lot about my love of animals.

Another restaurant on the water front is East Bay Grille, a more formal place, but again, it’s great food with a more traditional interior.   The waitstaff is attentive and friendly – whereas at Wood’s, you order, take a number, and wait to be called to pick up your food.

For lunch or breakfast, the atmosphere is like something out of the past at Blue Blinds.  The people who operate this cafe and bakery on North Street, straight up from the sea, are from an order called Twelve Tribes.  You can look them up on your computer and read more about their traditions and culture, but basically, they are friendly, nice to know, and quiet living people who wear home made fashions which resemble Little House on the Prairie types of clothes.  The food there is all very healthy – they use honey in place of sugar, carob in place of chocolate, and if you want a piece of cheesecake you will never forget, go to Blue Blinds.

Plymouth is totally loaded with history – it’s our beginning here in America.  Those of us who live nearby feel incredibly fortunate to have this resource so close.

I hope this was a good tease to beckon you to “America’s Home Town”.  I’ll be writing more later – I think I want to tell you about Burial Hill next.

My fifth novel is going to be available soon – probably in about three weeks.  It’s a suspense with threads of romance.  My first book was a light romance set in Plymouth and is available through RivrhavenBooks.com.  It is also available on Kindle.  If you like a romance, minus explicit manuevering between the two major characters, Out of the Blue might interest you.

I’ll tell you about Burial Hill next time – thanks for checking in.

Virginia

 

 

 

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My uncle, William V. Sieller, was a published poet and professor of English in Connecticut.  The following is a segment from one of his poems : “Beyond the trampled gardens, dripping roofs;

The  sky was washed and dawn was free to come” –

I think of this new season with his words in mind; so often weather here is changing moment to moment as it is today.  Bright sunshine lays a golden affect on everything, making it seem of more value; a gray cloud shadows the land on a whim and reminds me that what I thought to be beautiful in the sun, is still there without those warm beams.

If you have yet to experience New England, try it.  I am always amazed at the variety of landscape from cape shorelines to the mountains of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.  Fascinating too, is the variety of homes – not often will you find “little houses made of ticky-tacky” here – New Englanders are completely individual in style, loving the idea of putting their personal stamp on their home.  Most are in no way pretentious – we tend to favor a cozy look.

In many of my paintings which depict summer scenes, I have smoke coming out of the chimneys.  People have asked why there’s smoke in warm weather – my quick answer is that someone is inside the house baking something wonderful. 

Thanks for stopping by,

Virginia

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Today my family and I drove thirty-five miles to the Cape Cod Canal .  This place is an incredible source of beauty, wild vegetation, and a completely terrific place to get some healthy air and exercise.  People go along side the canal, where there is a pedestrian road, to walk their dogs, push their babies, bike, roller blade, or simply walk.  Basically, there’s something for everyone.  It is, to me, a pathway to the world, where huge ships slide through, as well as private yachts and ornate tugboats.  It is impossible not to find  this place enchanting.

A New Englander by birth and choice, I expect to focus on a different location at least weekly.  This is a magnificant place – each of the six New England states offering their own form of wonder.

I am a painter and writer – each painting and piece I write, involve New England in some way.  My writing is mostly fiction, although I formerly wrote for a small local newspaper.  My paintings are similiar to those of Grandma Moses – referred to by most as Primitive or Folk Art.  The assortment, books and all, are for sale at the Vermont Antiques Mall in Quechee, Vermont, one of my favorite places.

Thanks for checking in,

Virginia Young

 

 

 

 

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