Berkshires Hike – Clark Art Institute Forest, Williamstown

How can a journey among three friends to a region new to two of them turn out to be perfect?

Especially when these three, who do bird together on long excursions, have, nevertheless never gone anywhere overnight together before?

Our fellowship, already splendid, deepened with every new trail or museum, bird and wildflower.

Perfection is always the reality in Williamstown.

The best thing about Williamstown is that it is entirely ringed by mountains.  Out every window of the Clark Art Institute, beauty stuns, in serious competition with Ghirlandaios, Winslow Homers and Renoirs on the walls.

To run an errand is to be surrounded by mountains.

To eat an unexpected and vivid Mexican supper (see earlier post) is to sit across a babbling river from a steep mountainside entirely forested.

To wake to mountains, that shadowy mountains are your last glimpse at bedtime, –there is no greater privilege.

I am still wordless regarding this spectacular journey.  It’s never easy for a poet to admit that a picture is worth 10,000 words, but it’s truer and truer in my experience.

Here is the scrapbook of perfection: some of the trails on the grounds of the Clark.

Teepee of 21st Century, Clark Art Institute Trail

Teepee of 21st Century, Clark Art Institute Trail

One of Few Signs, Clark Art Institute Trail

One of Few Signs, Clark Art Institute Trail

First Sensitive Fern, Clark Art Institute Trail

First Sensitive Fern, Clark Art Institute Trail

First Trillium, Clark Art Institute Trail

First Trillium, Clark Art Institute Trail

Beechwood Glow, Clark Art Institute Trail

Beechwood Glow, Clark Art Institute Trail

Cairn at the Crossroads, Clark Art Institute Trail

Cairn at the Crossroads, Clark Art Institute Trail

Tadao Ando's First Clark Art Institute Building

Tadao Ando’s First Clark Art Institute Building

Normandy Clouds, Boudin and Jongkind Clouds, Clark Art Institute Building by Tadao Ando

Normandy Clouds, Boudin and Jongkind Clouds, Clark Art Institute Building by Tadao Ando

Eternal Sentinels, Clark Art Institute Woods

Eternal Sentinels, Clark Art Institute Woods

Far Beyond Hikes and New England Beauty — Mass Moca’s Amazing Art

Mass Moca Exhibits, late October 2014

Mass Moca Exhibits, late October 2014

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that Deb Hill and I spent a late October week in the Berkshire mountains, mostly hiking, much art, and, o, yes, food.  I’m torn today between giving you our astonishing Bennington VT stroll, our electrifying views from the Apple Barn on the way to Bennington, and the art of Mass Moca.

The last wins, for sheer outrageousness.  I’d get right back in that car and drive to Willilamstown tomorrow morning, if it weren’t for saving New Jersey Land at D&R Greenway – so we could return to Mass Moca’s thrilling and thought-provoking art installations.

Walk with us through the parking lot:

Approaching Mass Moca's Front Entrance

Approaching Mass Moca’s Front Entrance

Mass Moca Alleyway

Mass Moca Alleyway

Gramercy Restaurant, that doesn't do lunch in late October

Gramercy Restaurant, that doesn’t do lunch in late October

Techno-Beauty, Mass Moca

Techno-Beauty, Mass Moca

Campanile, Mass Moca

Campanile, Mass Moca

O, ‘Moca’ means Museum of Contemporary Art.

Those of you who’ve been up there know that this was a factory, enormous and (to me) stultifying to its human occupants.  That brilliant and courageous people conceived of transforming this enormous set of structures, determined to bring North Adams, Mass., back to life after its inescapable desertion by industry.  The courageous ones found backers, successfully creating one of the most stunning art settings of my entire life here and in Europe.

Now, North Adams is a happening town, what my mother would say, is “full of ginger.”  Probably quite literally, as the restaurant scene is lively and ever-expanding.  A delightful set of once run-down houses has been turned into a place to stay, called “The Porches.”  You can see these engaging dwellings from the museum.  Manhattanites delight in coming up to partake of their unique hospitality.

But Mass Moca’s not just about art.  Every installation teaches.  Scenes from past visits still fill my head, more irresistible than sugarplums, — teaching about the circularity of the environment, about poisons in our food, making us face the beauty of polluted landscapes, confront the inescapability of wars — all through astounding beauty.

Spectator with Teresita Fernandez Multi-Room Installation that seemed like massive bird migration, even how passenger pigeons may have been...

Spectator with Teresita Fernandez Multi-Room Installation that seemed like massive bird migration, even how passenger pigeons may have been…

Room With a View, Teresita Fernandez Installation Suffuses Another Room

Room With a View, Teresita Fernandez Installation Suffuses Another Room

Teresita Fernandez Molten Gold on Jet Black Background -- 3-D Printing!

Teresita Fernandez Molten Gold on Jet Black Background — 3-D Printing!

Teresita Fernandez Tube Installation

Teresita Fernandez Tube Installation

A Constellation of Tubes

A Constellation of Tubes

Wheeling Through the Tubes

Wheeling Through the Tubes

Tubes from the Balcony, Where Supervisors No Doubt Scrutinized Factory Workers

Tubes from the Balcony, Where Supervisors No Doubt Scrutinized Factory Workers

Original Factory Wall

Original Factory Wall

Are You Amazed Yet?

Throughout the museum, architects left walls, ceilings, floors, pillars, and even the restrooms, as they were when they were the habitat of workers.

Factory Washroom, Down the Basement

Factory Washroom, Down the Basement

Factory Bathroom, Left Mostly Intact

Factory Bathroom, Left Mostly Intact

I have the eeriest sense of understanding places like concentration camps, when I am faced with the realities of these long ago workers.

Back to Teresita's Black and Gold Art, which brings up industry, oil, gold, greed, through beauty...

Back to Teresita’s Black and Gold Art, which brings up industry, oil, gold, greed, through beauty…

Splendid and Irresistible Abstraction -- We could hardly tear ourselves away...

Splendid and Irresistible Abstraction — We could hardly tear ourselves away…

Plastics Array -- to Force Us to Contemplate the Role of Plastic in Our Lives...

Plastics Array — to Force Us to Contemplate the Role of Plastic in Our Lives…

This is the work of Lee Boroson, who is quintessentially suited to Mass Moca’s artistic and intellectual paradigm.

Each room is a journey, some easier than others.  All unforgettable.

Come back outside with us now.

Restaurant Wing, Mass Moca

Restaurant Wing, Mass Moca

Departing Mass Moca

Departing Mass Moca

We could not eat at Gramercy, despite its enchanting, old-world name.

Deb’s Garmin led us to a restored rail yard, with a famous pub.

The Freight Yard Pub

The Freight Yard Pub

We were welcomed with a real hardwood fire, and tables of formidable women and men in Harley garb.  I was told they are quite particular about their lunch stops.

I fell for their vaunted (purportedly nearby) Boston Clam Chowder and Crab Cake — a big mistake.  The craft beers were splendid and seasonal and welcome.  This is, i later learned, Burger Central.

The Freight Yard's Famous Coffee Place

The Freight Yard’s Famous Coffee Place

There’s a famous tunnel, dug through the mountains, near North Adams — a tunnel in which many died during construction.  It’s a key tourist attraction, which we neglected to visit.

Sense of Olde London in the Restored Freightyard Area

Sense of Olde London in the Restored Freightyard Area

Mass Moca is light years, but only minutes, from quaint Williamstown, of my previous post.  In fact, Mass Moca is light years from most museums I have ever visited in any country.

It is a country unto itself, with tremendous consciousness, determined to wake up its countless visitors to realities in their 21st Century world.

Truly, as Michelin says of restaurants, Mass Moca is “Vaut le Voyage” — Worthy of the Journey!

Homesick for New England Mountain Village — Williamstown

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that my friend, Deb Hill, and I spent a splendid almost-week, doing hikes and art among mountains, in the very old Berkshires of Massachusetts.

Now, wrapped in winter, it is difficult to credit the vividness of memory.  Here, come along on our very first stroll, under extremely changeable skies, along the streets of Williamstown, and out Route 2 toward but not in North Adams.

Beckoning Fence, near Water Street, Williamstown

Beckoning Fence, near Water Street, Williamstown

Sometimes, New England itself seems like a dream.  But then I return, and it’s more real than ever – poised against the sterilities of the 21st Century.

Maple Splendor in 'a mizzle of rain', Williamstown

Maple Splendor in ‘a mizzle of rain’, Williamstown

Red Bench, Williamstown Stroll

Red Bench, Williamstown Stroll

Porch Rockers, "Come and Set a Spell..."

Porch Rockers, “Come and Set a Spell…”

Autumn's Last Gasp

Autumn’s Last Gasp

Glow, Williamstown

Glow, Williamstown

Autumn in the Rain, Williamstown

Autumn in the Rain, Williamstown

Hobson's Choice Restaurant, Water Street

Hobson’s Choice Restaurant, Water Street

Beer Kegs outside Water Street Grill

Beer Kegs outside Water Street Grill

Water Street Grill Sign and October Skies

Water Street Grill Sign and October Skies

Water Street Grill Bacon Bleu Cheese Burger

Water Street Grill Bacon Bleu Cheese Burger

Water Street Grill Salad Caprese

Water Street Grill Salad Caprese

Water Street Grill Steak and Bleu Cheese Salad of another day...

Water Street Grill Steak and Bleu Cheese Salad of another day…

Water Street Grill Lemon Raspberry Genoise!

Water Street Grill Lemon Raspberry Genoise!

Williamstown Bank

Williamstown Bank

Wild Oats Healthy Local Sustainable Food Market!

Wild Oats Healthy Local Sustainable Food Market!

Wild Oats Radishes (yes!) and Cauliflower

Wild Oats Radishes (yes!) and Cauliflower

Wild Oats Brussels Sprouts

Wild Oats Brussels Sprouts

Wild Oats Abundance -- Cabbages for Kings

Wild Oats Abundance — Cabbages for Kings

New England Splendor, Williamstown

New England Splendor, Williamstown

Time for a Change, Coming Down from the summit of Mt. Greylock

Time for a Change, Coming Down from the summit of Mt. Greylock

HALLOWE’EN ~ SPOOKINESS WITHOUT COSTUMES

Bennington Historic Mansion, Dressed for Hallowe’en

Bennington Spectre late Oct. 2014 Williamstown trip

Perversely, I returned to the Berkshires for the Anniversary of Sandy-the-Hurricane, by any other name.  There I was marooned, two years ago, forfended by tree-strewn roadways, lacks of electricity and gasoline, and, frankly, long-continuing storm, from returning to Princeton.  Where, as it turns out, after, finally, a gruelling 10-hour drive, there was no power in the house here, yet again.  Somehow, I needed to re-experience Williamstown without a hurricane – which, yes, reached even there, darkening nearby North Adams.

SNor'easter Skies late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

View From Window of Cozy Corner Motel, Williamstown, toward Shrouded Berkshires

“Best-laid plans of mice and men, gang aft agley…”  The anniversary trip involved what seems to have been a six-day Nor’easter.  I remember when they used to be called 3-day blows.

Agandoned Factory Nor'easter October 2014 Williamstown 001

Faded Glory on Water Street, Williamstown

Oddly enough, though we did manage hikes and beaucoup art, and some sunlight, many of the pictures look worse, weather-wise, than I remember.  In fact, spooky.  What do you think?

Glory of Yesteryear late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Glory of Yesteryear, Once-Essential Chimney, Williamstown

Factory Windows late Oct. 2014 Williamstown 002

Venerable Factory Windows

No Touchdowns Today Williams College Field in Nor'easter

No Touchdowns Today — Williams College Field in Nor’easter

Where Are The Players of Yesteryear late Oct. 2014 Williams College

Where Are The Players of Yesteryear — Williams College Field

Chef's Hat Breakfast Haven late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Chef’s Hat Breakfast Refuge, Williamstown

Not About To Take Off Greylock and Williamstown airport

Not About to Take Off, Williamstown Airport and Mt. Greylock

We boldly ascended Mt. Greylock that afternoon, the peak that purportedly inspired Herman Melville, who lived near another flank of this mountain, to write Moby Dick.  I must confess, I could live near Greylock for any number of decades without writing anything about the sea, let alone a masterpiece…

Overlook Trail Greylock Summit late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Overlook Trail, Mt. Greylock, Nor’easter Days

Greylock Summit Noreaster Days late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Summit View, Greylock

Mt. Greylock Tower late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Greylock Tower, Berkshires

Greylock Vista Noreaster late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Weather Systems, Mt. Greylock Summit, Berkshires

Survivor late Oct. 2014 Williamstown Nor'easter Days

SURVIVOR – House of Noble Heritage, Williamstown

What Stories They Could Tell late Oct. 2014 Williamstown 003

What Stories These Windows Could Tell

Promise of Change late Oct. 2014 Williamstown0

Promise of Change, View From Cozy Corner Motel, Williamstown

Glowing Through the Storm Williamstown

Glowing Through The Storm — Cozy Corner View of Autumn and Tumultuous Brook

A QUESTION OF VALLEYS

Delaware River image 1 green hills

Delaware River Valley

A QUESTION OF VALLEYS

Throughout most of Robert Macfarlane’s books on old ways and wild places, I’m right there with him. But I part ways with this adventuresome author, –quite literally–, when he speaks of the capacity of valleys to “shock our thoughts.” Macfarlane’s idea of a valley involves “cresting a ridge,” and “significant dropping away of the ground” at his feet.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone 1

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

It surprises me to disagree with this powerful, experienced, eloquent writer. I’ve ‘journeyed’ with him for weeks now, learning not only amazing trails in Scotland and Ireland mostly, but also a string of new vocabulary words to equal my year in Provence. I honor Macfarlane and yet I beg to differ as to the meaning and effect of valleys.

Goat Hill View of Delaware River Valley Brenda Jones

Goat Hill Preserve View of Delaware looking north, by Brenda Jones

The last thing that comes to my mind concerning valleys is edges or crests.
I do rejoice in his emphasis on valleys’ capacity. What would be my valley words?
wide / broad
deep / profound
often wooded,
comforting
welcoming
enveloping
gentling
soothing
often blessed by waterfalls
laved by streams, sometimes invisible, even inaudible.
silence except for birdsong, and/or breezes in treetops
secluded
subtle
places of solitude
rich in grandeur

Materhorn reflected

Materhorn Valley

I feel wrapped by every valley I revisit in memory.

Hopewell Valley Paintking by Joe Kaziemierczyk

Hopewell Valley from St. Michaels Preserve

by Joe Kazimierczyk

Macfarlane’s “edge-dropping-off” phenomenon was the harsh reality in Provence’s Gorge du Verdon. I drove it, –rather well, actually–, but there was no welcoming atmosphere, such as suffuses me in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

Gorges du Verdon Valley 1

Gorge du Verdon, Provence, France

 

Even studded with trees and tumbled with rocks, the valleys I’ve hiked and kayaked have been hushed.

Delaware River Kayaking at Bulls Island

Kayaking the Delaware River North from Bull’s Island

I seek valleys as antidotes to our harsh world, this arena of bustle, noise and harm

Maroon Bells storm

Maroon Bells Valley, which I’ve known only on skis

In the depths of valleys, light trickles in like sunrays pouring from distant cumulus clouds. It’s something about light juxtaposed with darkness, and its effect on me is uplift, otherwise known as hope.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with rainbow

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone With Rainbow

Valleys cradle life: In certain seasons, in certain valleys, salmon splash and writhe en route to natal sites. Eggs will be released in pristine pools, above glistening pebbles, in soundless eddies of whatever waterway blesses that valley.

Oregon Columbia River Gorge from Cascade Locks

Columbia River Gorge, May 2014, by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

Remoteness and stillness are essential for this recurring miracle. Along their way, creatures from ospreys to eagles to bears, and God knows how many microbes, will have been nourished, while the sapping away of salmon essence nourishes towering trees.

Indian fishing for spring chinook in Oregon Des Chutes and White River trip, May 2014 006

Indian Fishing The Old Ways, Des Chutes River, near Columbia

Oregon 2014 by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

Some valleys, such as the Columbia and its tributaries, belong to the Indians, their ancient ways and skills.

Tying the Net Spring Chinook Run along Oregon Des Chutes and White River trip, May 2014 010

Tying the Net, Des Chutes River

Oregon, 2014 by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

“Valley” has a somewhat different meaning in our Hopewell Valle, our Delaware River Valley. Here, ‘the Valley’ is something to be protected at all costs, both land and water. At D&R Greenway we have worked day and night, since 1989, –protesting, writing, negotiating, funding, pondering, discussing, acting, publicizing, celebrating, even literally building trails and weeding, then planting the natives of the Delaware Valley. We create art and science events to call attention to the urgency of preserving these valleys and their sacred waterways, in perpetuity. We were founded to save waters and lands of the Delaware & Raritan Canal. We’re now in seven counties, including the lands and waters of the sacred Delaware Bay, guarding the watershed, of that essential River, and the sea to which she journeys.

Table View Black Bass Autumn 2010

View of Delaware Valley from Table at Black Bass Inn

by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

In the 1980’s, a broad array of people from New Jersey and Pennsylvania fought and lost the battle to prevent “The Pump” from removing 200 million gallons a day from our tidal river. We did succeed in lowering the amount of water taken daily, to cool a nuclear plant on the Susquehanna. It is hard to hold full gratitude and pride for a partial victory. But the Delaware, creator of this valley, thrives because of those efforts. Some of its reaches have been officially named “wild and scenic.” Some of its reaches welcome the holy shad each April, on their run to their natal territories.

Delaware's Watery Beauty, Spring

Peaceful Delaware River Spring from Bull’s Island

by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

Once, hiking in bathing suits and bare feet, my family climbed down a Jamaican valley, accompanied by a blithe waterfall. At the bottom, we sat for timeless time, in the salt sea, blessed by the freshwater falls. That startling juxtaposition remains rare. That Jamaica valley recedes into mythic time. But the blending of salt and fresh takes place each day in our Delaware, all the way up to Trenton. One spring, a whale demonstrated this reality by coming so far after shad in the spring that it could be seen at the Scenic Observatory on Route 295 adjacent to Trenton.

East Point  The Beckoning   Delaware Bay

Delaware Bay at East Point Light

Fall 2014, by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

The valleys of memory take many forms. For me, none involves “shock”. Macfarlane is a phenomenal writer, and taking virtual hikes with him enriches my days and nights. Valleys are not, however, about edges dropping away below my feet. Valleys are refuge; valleys are home.

Materhorn Valley image evening

How the Materhorn Valley Shelters at Night

when you’re staying/skiing in Zermatt

Long ago, I fell in love with Robert Frost’s description of woods as “lovely, dark and deep.” Valleys are the true possessors of that description.

 

Remembering Columbia River Gorge

Helicopter over flaming Rowena area of Columbia River Gorge

Helicopter over flaming Rowena area of Columbia River Gorge

Various news services have made it clear that the glorious Columbia River Gorge was assailed by wildfires this past week.  My dear friend, poet Penelope Schott, of Portland, reports the fires are mostly over.  She drives past the hills that were scorched a number of times each week, to and from her writer’s retreat in Dufur, the wheat country beyond the Gorge.

Charred Rowena Area of Columbia River Gorge

Charred Rowena Area of Columbia River Gorge

We know that rainlessness is the norm in Oregon in summer.  But there is a difference between lack of rain and deep extended drought.

The latter, as everyone knows, but few wish to discuss, let alone change, is caused by climate change.  Which is caused by insistence upon using fossil fuels instead of renewable energy.

This summer, before the fires, Penelope and Eric had me visit in both (beautiful, conscious!) Portland and remote, sweet Dufur.  Here, mostly without words, are pictures of the Rowena part of the Gorge, near the Dalles, before fire had its way with that spectacular region.

Watch with me.  Care with me.

Beautiful Columbia Gorge   before fires Summer 2014

Beautiful Columbia Gorge before fires Summer 2014

This was taken from an overlook which could well be the charred scene above.

Curvilinear Route from Portland to Dufur, from overlook at Rowena in Columbia Gorge

Curvilinear Route from Portland to Dufur, from overlook at Rowena in Columbia Gorge

 

Gorge Wildflowers and Ancient Rocks from Glacial Times -- These wildflowers will return

Gorge Wildflowers and Ancient Rocks from Glacial Times — These wildflowers will return

Stalwart Chicory of the Borge

Stalwart Chicory of the Gorge

Three Thrilled Cyclists, Having Achieved Columbia Gorge Rowena Lookout

Three Thrilled Cyclists, Having Achieved Columbia Gorge Rowena Lookout

Penelope and Lily's Favorite Gorge Stop -- a wildflower meadow like a Cluny tapestry... millefiori

Penelope’s and Lily’s Favorite Gorge Stop — a wildflower meadow like a Cluny tapestry… millefiori

May Bounty, Columbia Gorge, Rowena Lookout

May Bounty, Columbia Gorge, Rowena Lookout

Quintessential Parking Lot, Rowena Lookout, Columbia Gorge -- nestled in snowcapped mountains not showing in this scene

Quintessential Parking Lot, Rowena Lookout, Columbia Gorge — nestled in snowcapped mountains not showing in this scene

Gifts of Glacier and Meltwater, Rowena Lookout

Gifts of Glacier and Meltwater, Rowena Lookout

When Columbia Gorge was Evergreen Heaven

When Columbia Gorge was Evergreen Heaven

Road Not Yet Taken, from Rowena Lookout Toward Dufur from Portland Oregon

Road Not Yet Taken, from Rowena Lookout Toward Dufur from Portland Oregon

Oregon Lupine Columbia River Gorge Rowena Lookout

Columbia Gorge from Rowena Lookout, High Desert Country, where Dufur Awaits, across Columbia

Columbia Gorge from Rowena Lookout, High Desert Country, where Dufur Awaits, across Columbia

April Showers brought...

April Showers brought…

HERE’S WISHING CHERISHED ROWENA A SPEEDY RECOVERY.

Here’s wishing increased awareness of the outcomes of catastrophic climate change.

Preserve all open space in your region.

Live a sustainable life.