Happy Birthday to Tina

Happy Birthday to me! I turned 41 today, which feels like a pretty innocuous age. Woke up early to have blueberries and cherries on the deck with Jocelyn and Dusty. Then there were departures all round: J left for work, Dusty for his bike ride with Walter, and Prescott and I for Stockbridge.

We took the back roads, all windy and beautiful through the countryside. Stopped for second breakfast (that’s a real term – just ask a hobbit) in Ashfield at Elmer’s Store, where you can order items like “Adam and Eve Under a Fluffy Down Comforter” (which is two eggs sandwiched between two pancakes). Really fun place with yummy apple pancakes.

Continued on to Stockbridge to see Naumkeag, the Gilded Age cottage built by Stanford White for the Choate family. It’s a Trustees of Reservations property, which means that Jocelyn manages the place (and gets to hear everyone’s complaints about it). Walked the gardens and listened to the audio tour; then took a guided tour of the cottage. It’s an elegant home, modest by Gilded Age standards, but still opulent on the main floor. Stunning woodwork indoors; amazing landscaping outside. Idyllic views complete with lowing cattle down the hill. When Mabel Choate lived at Naumkeag she arranged to have the farmer parade the cows across the field whenever she came home. They didn’t do that for us – too bad.

Late lunch of bread and cheese (the former purchased from the mean bakery lady in Stockbridge; the latter from the happy hippie guy at the Old Creamery in Cummington). Then back to J’s (including a small portion of being lost and recovering using a road that someone forgot to pave) for a swim at a friend’s pond. Great water – like a bathtub on the top two inches and like a ice chest down below.

Drove to the fridge the woods to pick up milk and say hi to the eight new calves. Then dinner with J and Dusty at the Night Kitchen – such wonderful food and scenery (and company)! Mussels in a spicy broth, scallops for T, salmon for Pres, and unusually good peach cobbler with ginger ice cream for dessert.

All in all, a full day! And we made it with very little complaining about the heat – it was 98 degrees here. But that’s better than triple-digit Baltimore, so we’ll take it.

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