In the Universe or Mystery that some folks call God, we found the Berkshires leisurely hiding in the hills and trees and valleys of our Roads Less Traveled. We set out on this Fall Get-Away with the purpose of being in nature. It is there that our spirits are renewed. It has always been both of our recipes for spiritual renewal. It is partly what drew us to each other. We’ve known each other now for about 12 years and married for eight. It feels like we’ve always been together and yet such a short time at the same time. The “we” for those of you who don’t know is myself, Connie, and my wife, Joyce. Our other traveler with us is Rusty, my 5 ½ pound Chihuahua, who has now seen the Smokey Mountains and several parts of the Appalachians, including the White Mountains and now the Berkshires, and in particular, Mount Greylock.
Since this is the first official week of fall, the leaves have only hints of turning colors with a spot here and there. There is the promise of all our New England autumn in all its glorious colors. I’ve often said that New England is God’s country, and it is especially true when dressed in its multi-colored coat of brilliant leaves.
Our Roads Less Traveled this week, has taken us into small town America, as well as the breath-taking views seen only from the top of a mountain. We negotiated hairpin turns after hairpin turns on our drive up the mountain. There were many scenic views along the way. On top of Mount Greylock is a WWI memorial and monument. It is a striking monument, somewhat like a pyramid with a great ball on top. I saw it in the daytime, but I understand it lights up at night as a beacon of hope and thankfulness.
Mount Greylock was one of the CCCs (Civil Conservation Corps) projects, which was part of the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fix for the Great Depression in the 1930s and 1940s. It employed young men 18-23 at first and expanded to employ young men from 17-28. It was run much like the military. There were no frills, but fed and housed in military style.
I always like being reminded of our history as we travel. Last year, we went to Campobello Island, which was the summer home for Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt. It’s even better when I feel we’ve connected our trips. It’s probably just a hangover from homeschooling. My youngest daughter, Erin, was schooled at home through high school. Looking for learning in everything we did became a way of life. And Joyce and I have continued that by visiting Presidential Libraries and Museums.
Beyond historical connections, our connection with nature is essential. We drove through many of the forests in the western part of Massachusetts. Although with a GPS, it is hard to get lost, it is easy to search for something that doesn’t exist. We were looking for food, which took us on a rural road through farmlands full of the remnants of corn fields, bales of hay, and both cattle and horses. I’m sorry to report that the restaurant we searched for was not there, but it was a beautiful ride and certainly took us into places we would never have gone otherwise. Mistakes and wrong turns are only opportunities to see what exists outside the well-marked roads.
From Williamstown to Great Barrington to Mount Greylock to Lee to Shelburne Falls, we have explored in and around and through the Berkshires. What connects these experiences are probably the trees. There is nothing like driving down roads where you suddenly feel you are in the understory of a forest. It makes me wish I could get out and explore what exists in the thickets beside the roads, but then maybe imagination is better than reality. At any rate, exploring and hiking and those sort of physical activities are not easily done any more. We require paved, even surfaces rather than the uneven, rocky or hilly terrain, especially with Joyce’s unsteady gait at present. The surgeon is scheduled, and we’ll see what he says about her torn meniscus and what might be going on with her hip replacement.
Although our ability to hike and get up-close-and-personal with trails and trees and other plant life and animals of various varieties, visiting nature can still be done driving. We even took most of our photos without leaving the car. We drove to the summit of Mount Greylock and drove quite a few scenic byways. All-in-all, we are returning to home, feeling spiritually refreshed, which was our purpose!