Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Our business in New York having been concluded, we worked our way north, crossing back over the Hudson at the Tappan Zee and cutting eastward into Connecticut at the far northwestern corner of the state.
It’s hard to imagine a greater contrast than that between the concrete and steel canyons of Manhattan and the rolling fields of northwest Connecticut. We had no trouble sleeping in New York; twenty-eight stories insulated us from street-level noise, and, as confirmed suburbanites, we’re used to a certain amount of sound at night. Hell, the Missus can’t fall asleep unless the teevee is on - so much for peace and quiet. But in the Mistress’s environs, the only thing that serves by way of a lullaby is the rustling of the breeze on the bare trees and the soft chuckling of a nearby creek.
It’s so pitch black at night, we’d take a flashlight with us to help us navigate between the Mistress’s house and our lodgings across the street. The alternative was to stumble around in the dark, risking an encounter with the local wildlife. Lions and tigers and bears, and suchlike. And wild turkeys.
Next time I go up there, I’m bringing my camping headlamp.
Monday morning was bright and temperate, a perfect day for a walk. We first went up the hill behind the Mistress’s house - a fairly steep climb on uneven ground - to visit the Moss-Covered Rock. Then we walked back down, crossed the road, and took a path that wended its way through dense woods. On one side was private property; on the other, state land. Not a place to wander around in a deer suit.
The path deposited us back onto the Mistress’s street a few miles away. As we continued in the direction of the house, we happened upon an old boneyard, and decided to take a look at the moldering stones.
Most of the markers were heavily weathered, almost (or completely) illegible. Some carried dates ranging from the 1850’s through the 1880’s. Some told sad little stories: siblings, neither having attained the age of ten, buried side-by-side with their parents... infants who never lived to be weaned... young brides. It was a tough world then.
But the Bury-Patch was not derelict. There was a fairly new marker with a 2005 date on it:
As I gazed upon this final resting place for what, evidently were the New(er) Arrivals, I thought that the name on the stone sounded familiar. Eliot Janeway... where had I heard that name before? And then, thanks to my exceptional powers of memory (I remembered that I had my iPhone in my pocket, that it was equipped with Google, and that there was a usable 3G connection where we stood) it came to me: Eliot “Calamity” Janeway had been a well-known economist and writer, an advisor to President Lyndon Johnson (and before him, FDR), and an influential forecaster of economic trends. The Eliot Janeway lectures on historical economics at Princeton University - my alma mater! - had been endowed in his honor.
And here he was, luxuriating in his Eternal Dirt-Nap, mere yards away from the Mistress of Sarcasm’s new home. Who’dathunkit?
We spent Monday evening enjoying the culinary pleasures of Millerton, New York, just across the state line. Tuesday, we ventured northwards, to Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where we had a fine lunch at the Barrington Brewery (their chocolate stout cake is not to be missed). Afterwards, we browsed the shops in the picturesque town center, including a small (but exceptionally well-stocked) cheesemonger, who was kind enough to mong me a few chunks of the Stinky Stuff. In Sheffield, a few miles to the south, we sat in on the Mistress’s ukulele lesson before crossing the line back into Connecticut to provision ourselves for a home-cooked meal.
Some of my Esteemed Readers might be wondering about Bernadette, the Mistress’s cat. You will be happy to know that Bernadette is doing fine. She has adapted beautifully to life in her new home and is back to her old, cuddly self. She even gets along with (or at least tolerates the presence of) Ellie May, the resident Kinda-Sorta-Basset Hound. Ellie May, for her part, loves Bernie.
A Bernadette’s-eye-view of Ellie May. The outstretched leg on the left belongs to Yours Truly, graphic proof that Bernadette loves her grandpa once again!
Rain moved in Tuesday night, but we didn’t care. The next morning would see us heading out to Philadelphia, the next stop on our Peripatetic Northern Wanderings... and the topic of the next post.
The Twin Oaks field in Sharon, Connecticut. The Sharon Land Trust purchased the land in 1998 to preserve this little piece of world-class scenery from encroaching development.