Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Remembering the last drops of fall color on the Mohawk trail

Yikes, it's December, our second snow has arrived and I'm just getting around to posting about our Veteran's day travels. For the long weekend, we went on a mini-tour of the Western Mass/Berkshires. In summer or prime leaf-viewing season, this area would be packed. But, with the arrival of the chilly pre-snow air and with most, though not all, of the fall color gone, it's very quiet.

Day one - Hadley & Amherst: After a very late start, we drove to Hadley where we had short, but very enjoyable visit with Jill Kaufman, her husband Av, and their two girls. Jill is a friend of Keith's from public radio, turns out Av is also a public radio reporter. They live in a sweet old farmhouse in Hadley. Av has lived in New England most of his life and has an incredible wealth of information about this region housed in his head. They are such smart, funny, and warm people -- we'll have to head back for another visit. Hopefully we'll get to see their pond and the local snapping turtles that live there.

Day two - Roadside Stops and North Adams
- Shelburne Falls: Artist community sort of like Mount Vernon, but more authentic somehow. Glacial Potholes. Delicious warm Apple Puff, tea, and coffee at Shelburne Falls Coffee Roaster. If you go there, don't waste time with cold apple puff...get it warmed.

- Mohwak trail gift shop: When you travel with Miles gift shops are a part of the equation.

North Adams : Visit Mass MoCA. The museum is housed in an immense old factory with lots of wide open spaces perfect for displaying large scale artworks.

I was excited to find a Strandbeest by Theo Jansen. Keith and I had previously seen his work online where you can see it in motion. The pieces depend upon wind for mobility, so at MassMoCA it lies there like a mysterious and beautiful washed up alien life-form.

Also was really intrigued by the work of Heeseop Yoon. She creates very large installations using black tape, vellum, and pencil. I haven't found a photograph that captures the gesture and depth that she is able to create with these simple materials. It's sort of like she combines sumi, mural art, and fine sketching.

There was a large Spencer Finch exhibit, that, with a few wonderful exceptions didn't work for me. Much of the exhibit was focused on accuracy of color and color of light(he uses a colorimeter to ensure this) ...and being somewhat colorblind, it was lost on me.

We spent the night in lovely Porches Inn. Miles and Keith enjoyed many rounds of their "swedish treatment" (where they swim in the heated outdoor pool then dash through the cold mountain air for a dip in the hot tub and then pool....then hot tub). The town was so shuttered up that only two restaurants in town were open. Fortunately for us, one was the excellent Gramercy Bistro.

Day three: Visit Williamstown (home of lovely Williams college), drive through Bershires, visit to Hancock Shaker Village.

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