Faded Footsteps – Arrowhead Nature Trail

Faded Footsteps – Arrowhead Nature Trail

Where We Went : Arrowhead Nature Trail, Pittsfield/Lenox MA

When We Went : Mid-April

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : 1.5 Boots

Trail Length : 0.5 Mile

How Long it Took Us : 1 Hour

Overview :

“Leviathan, white whale – Call me Ishmael.

Sailor, novelist – A failure until posthumous.

Made a home here in the Berks, Hawthorne put up with my quirks.

Hittin’ up old Greylock, Catch me out at Balance Rock.

Wrote Billy Budd & Bartelby, Even messed around with poetry.

When I say Moby, you say Dick –

MOBY…DICK!

 MOBY…DICK!”

Although Melville wasn’t born in the Berkshires, his Uncle Thomas Melvill’s Pittsfield estate offered a much needed refuge and retreat from the drudgery that he faced in Albany at 13 years old. Herman’s father had died in 1832, leaving his family almost irreparably in debt.

At age 12, Herman found himself employed as a clerk at the New York State Bank, working long hours, six days a week for the next three years.

Excuse me? Can you imagine being 12 years old and suiting up for your job at the bank six days a week?! What…

Reflecting on his childhood in the semi-autobiographical novel ,Redburn: His First Voyage,, Melville wrote:

“I must not think of those delightful days, before my father became bankrupt, and dies, and we removed from the city; for when I think of those days, something rises up in my throat and almost strangles me.”

There’s no doubt that that first Berkshire summer of 1832 – Melville’s first break from the confining and monotonous tedium at the bank – offered him so much more than just a breath of fresh air. We can only imagine the profound impact that those sylvan summer days had on Melville’s soul.

So in 1850, when the wealthy Morewood’s moved to purchase his Uncle’s estate (renaming it Broadhall and the current home of the Pittsfield Country Club) and the surrounding 300 acres for $6500, it seems logical to think that Herman would curse himself for not having the necessary funds to buy it first. It likely stirred a deep-rooted feeling inside, a gnawing desire to break the mold of his destitute father and secure the very thing that impassioned him.

When an adjacent Pittsfield property went up for sale that same year, also priced $6500 (1/2 the acreage), Melville could hardly miss a second opportunity to reclaim his gossamer glimmers of childhood and prove himself as a man. Borrowing heavily from his father-in-law and incurring a mortgage, Herman was able to purchase Arrowhead in a harried fit of nostalgia.

There have been other theories raised to explain Melville’s moment of impulsivity. Michael Sheldon, author of “Melville In Love”

Subject to even more scrutiny is his relationship with Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Some scholars propose that this meeting sparked the impetuous purchase of the Berkshire farm, an attempt by Melville to remain close to his literary guru.

Writings of this odd pair have been scrutinized for decades, Melville the overzealous and infatuated admirer (a 19th-century “Stan” if you will.)

We can never know the true motives behind anyone’s personal choices, past or present, and too often historical conjecture misses the heart of human nature.

When I walked the trail behind Arrowhead I was walking in Herman Melville’s footsteps, maybe even Sarah Morewood’s and Hawthorne’s too. But try as I might to put myself in each of their shoes, my takeaway can only be personal. And there is one thing I know for certain. Whether you grew up in the Berkshires, like me, or you’ve been a visitor to these rolling hills and dales, you know all too well the mark they leave on you. And for any writer, is there ever a greater muse than the one you’re living in?

What We Dug :

While this makes an unparalleled accompaniment for the adult explorer, for the shorter set, try out the BHS Stanwix’s Scavenger Hunt! With two different versions, kids can feel challenged and engaged during their easy trek through the woods.

We printed off both versions and M & V each did one, then swapped and did each others!

The trail itself is easy to follow and equally easy walking. From the parking lot we crossed to the mown meadow path and upwards into the woods. Following the white arrowhead signs serving as trail markers, we searched high and low for the items on Stanwix’s Lists and found much more than we bargained for. A cache of wild ramps was hiding just off the path and our resident eagle eye spotted scarlet elf cups under a stand of birches. You can imagine young Malcolm (Melville’s eldest son) and little Stanwix running amok through the woods and catch a glimpse of the former Morewood property at the border of the neighboring golf course. Bring binoculars for meadow-side bird watching and don’t forget to look for the whale!

What We Could Do Without : Bittersweet strikes again…If you hike often, it’s likely you’ll see this serpentine strangler. Sometimes we see it just taking hold, while other places we see the devastation that occurs as a result of this merciless invasive. Melville’s woods are in the unforgiving grip of Celastrus orbiculatus. It hasn’t quite reached the levels that we saw at Longcope Park in Lee.  

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For : Purple Trillium, Trout Lily, Wild Ramps, Crinkleroot, Scarlet Elf Cup, Wood Anemone, Foamflower, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Blue Cohosh, False Solomon’s Seal, Garlic Mustard, Springtails, Wood Thrush, Oven Bird, Gray Catbird, Downy Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Blue Jay, American Redstart, Common Buckthorn, Beech, Black Cherry, Hemlock, Hop Hornbeam, Red Oak, Sugar Maple, White Ash, White Birch, White Pine

Must Know Before You Go’s : Parking is in the rear behind the Red Barn. No Facilities. Arrowhead is currently closed for tours. No Hunting, No Mountain Bikes or Motorized Vehicles, Leashed Dogs OK

FOR HIKING GUIDELINES DURING COVID-19 PLEASE REFER TO THIS HELPFUL LINK FOR MORE INFORMATION – HELP KEEP OTHERS SAFE & FLATTEN THE CURVE!

Directions : 780 Holmes Road Pittsfield, MA.

From the Massachusetts Turnpike(I-90), take Exit 2 (Lee). Follow Route 20 West for 8.5 miles; it will merge with Route 7 North. Turn right onto Holmes Road at the traffic light. Arrowhead is 1.5 miles ahead on the left.

From points north: Route 20, Route 9, and Route 7 all lead to Pittsfield and intersect with major interstates. Consult your own maps for reaching Route 7 from where you are. Once you are on Route 7 South, follow Route 7 South until you cross the Pittsfield-Lenox town line. Turn left onto Holmes Road at the traffic light. Arrowhead is 1.5 miles ahead on the left.

Website : www.mobydick.org

Resources : https://berkshirehistory.org/visit-us/house-landscape-tours/

Power of Place by Marianna Poutasse

Scroll through for more pictures of our Arrowhead adventure!

Faded Footsteps – Arrowhead Nature Trail

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I took this picture on a recent hike and didn‘t think twice about it. I was going through my camera roll and it struck me differently. Tay usually writes the blog posts around here, but since it’s Mother’s Day, I wanted to try and write down how this picture makes me feel.

There’s something about Mother’s Day 2020 that emphasizes the true “super-hero” qualities that all great moms possess. These qualities have never been more salient to me than during this COVID-19 pandemic. Since Taylor and I started our family together six and a half years ago with our son, Mason, I accepted the role as the “bread-winner.” For years I’ve worked 50-60 hours a week at my day job and up until last year I also bar-tended 3 or 4 nights a week for extra income. I consider myself a hard working guy. My work ethic has helped define who I am. I’ve been promoted and recognized for it again and again.

Then as a result of the pandemic I was laid off at the end of March. Getting up and going to work is all I had known and suddenly I was told to stay home and “social distance.” I was incredibly fortunate to be home with my whole family healthy, safe, and secure. I thought to myself, “Wow I get to stay home ALL DAY and get paid for it? What am I going to do? I guess I finally have time to work on the house! Sure, I’ll have to help out with the kids and household chores, but that’s easy compared to what I usually do at work…

Fast-forward six weeks to Mother’s Day. Six weeks of helping Tay prepare three meals a day and supplying a thousand snacks in between. Six weeks of doing endless piles of laundry. Six weeks of sweeping/vacuuming the floor only to have to do it again a few hours later. Six weeks of battling, negotiating, bribing, and even pleading with my children to get them to pick up a mountain of Legos or a pile of Pokémon cards. Six weeks of listening to “I’m bored!” “Mason hit me!” “Veda started it!” “I’m hungry!” “I’m not tired!” “Can I play on my IPad?” “Can I watch TV?” “I don’t like chicken!” Six weeks of saying or sometimes yelling “It’s time to pick up now.” “You just had a snack 10 minutes ago.” “Mason please stop teasing your sister!” “Veda let go of your brother’s hair!” “Please get your pajamas on and brush your teeth!” “Are you listening to anything I say?” Now don’t get me wrong, my kids are amazingly well behaved. They’re smart, they’re funny, and they have incredible personalities. For every 10 times they make me want to scream and pull my hair out there are a million times that make me the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.

I can recall times I would come home from work and I could tell Tay was exhausted. But nonetheless she’d power through her fatigue and have a hot delicious dinner ready for the family. She’d make everyone else a plate and then finally attempt to sit down for a quick bite but without fail as soon as one cheek grazed the chair she’d be bombarded with requests and comments like, “Mom, can I have more spaghetti?” “Mom, I need more water!” “Mom, what’s this little green stuff?” “Mom, I don’t like this can I have cereal instead?” Even I would chime in “Babe can you grab me a drink while you’re up?” Then we would finish up our dinner while we reviewed the day’s events and before I knew it she’d have the entire kitchen cleaned, our children in their pajamas with their teeth brushed and be ready to read them a book before bed. All the while she’d listen to me talk about work or whatever was on my mind. She’d validate my feelings while simultaneously folding her fifth load of laundry and mentally preparing the grocery shopping list for the next day. Did I mention she also works part-time doing social media marketing for a local restaurant and creates all the content for Berkshire Family Hikes?

Being at home in the trenches with Tay for the past six weeks has shown a new light on what a mother endures on a daily basis. You see, it’s not about the fact that she can multi-task better than me, or that she’s a master organizer and incredibly good at budgeting her time. It’s not the fact that she’s more patient, more disciplined, and more resilient than I am. It’s that she doesn’t require credit or recognition to stay consistent. Remember in the opening paragraph when I said “I’ve been promoted and recognized” as a direct result of my work ethic? The recognition drives and motivates me as an employee to keep growing. But what if all my hard work was never recognized? What if it was just expected? Studies have shown that eventually an employee will develop a resentful attitude and regress. It’s human nature.

But how often is a mother promoted or recognized for the way she loves and takes care of her children/family? For the way she packs her child’s lunch box for school or helps them with their homework? Our society says “You chose to have a child so it’s your responsibility to raise it. You should be helping your kid with his/her homework. It’s part of being a parent.” This is true, but I would argue that we also should recognize our mothers for what they do every. single. day. without fail. For their super-powers – altruism and unconditional love. Somehow it becomes a seamless part of “mother” nature, one that is too often overlooked.

You see, moms don’t stop being moms when they are taken for granted. They just keep on loving and doing what needs to be done. They are the most unappreciated people in our society. How come there has never been a viral video of a mother simply tucking her kids into bed? That should get more “views” or “likes” than any video out there! But unfortunately it doesn’t. And I’m as guilty as the next person.

If you had asked me six weeks ago what I see when I look at this picture I would say something like “Snack time on the trail.” But when I look at this picture today I see so much more. I see all that led up to this beautiful moment. I see Tay helping Mason and Veda get dressed for the hike. I see Tay packing their snacks and filling up their water bottles. I see a mother spending quality time with her most prized possessions. I see my own mother putting in the work of raising me for the past 33 years and counting. I see all loving mothers who do their best each and every day.

Usually when we go on our weekly hikes Tay takes all the pictures. As a result, she’s absent from the bulk of photos. For some reason I grabbed the camera that day and I’m so lucky that I did. I got to see and capture the essence of Motherhood. I think the perfect caption for this photo is “Super Mom in Her Element.”

I want to recognize and wish every unappreciated mother who has dedicated their life to raising their children a Happy Mother’s Day. They say to look for the silver lining in a bad situation. If it wasn’t for COVID-19, I would never have had this opportunity to spend so much time with my family and see it from a different perspective. I’m making it a point to be more aware of what truly matters as I navigate forward. I hope the world can find and hang on to a more positive shift in perspective as well. I wish you all health and happiness.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you superheroes out there!

With Blessings,

Dan Loehr

Cattle Calls & Waterfalls – Glendale Falls

Cattle Calls & Waterfalls – Glendale Falls

Where We Went : Glendale Falls, Middlefield MA

When We Went : Mid-March

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : 3 Boots

Trail Length : 1/4 Mile to the base of the Falls

How Long it Took Us : 1.5 Hours

Overview : For a town with a population of less than 600, Middlefield sure has a lot of history.

The first soldier to ever receive a Purple Heart Medal of honor, Elijah Churchill, a Revolutionary War vet, lived and is buried here.

Martha Stewart laid stakes on Clark Wright Road, humbly purchasing an ,1800’s schoolhouse on 50 acres. Living in this modest homestead without a bathroom or running water from 1966 to mid-1980’s, Martha credits this adventure as the catalyst behind her foray into serious DIY like plumbing, electrical work and contracting as well as some of the happiest times of her life.

The main room was very pretty. It was wainscoted, with a soft, beautiful pine floor. The house had no bathroom, no electricity. We bought it for $15,000, and it was a dream for us. That’s where I really learned how to do everything: electricity, plumbing, gardening, painting, spackling. I tried to build cabinet work in the kitchen and found out I am not a very good carpenter. I’m much better at plumbing.

Click here to read a journal entry where she reflects on fond Christmas memories.

Also located on Clark Wright Road, is Glendale Falls. Previously the site of 18th-century’s Glendale Farm, Revolutionary War veteran Captain Nathaniel Wright, settled on its 400-acres and began farming in 1799. It would remain in the Wright family for over a century.

 

Clark Brainard Wright, it’s last “wrightful” owner, would operate the farm from 1842 and into the 1920’s. It was under his guidance that the farm became well-known for it’s herd of shorthorn steers.

Most locals have heard of or attended the Middlefield Fair that began in 1855 and still runs over 3 days in August over 165 years later. It was here that this Durham cattle breed won top marks.

Clark Brainard Wright’s “Glendale Duke” was a magnificent specimen that would win top prizes at the Annual Cattle Show of the Highland Agricultural Society (later shortened to the Middlefield Fair). Middlefield was recognized by the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now Umass Amherst) as a leading breeding area:

The show of oxen and steers was the best I have ever seen at a county show, not for the number and perfection of training, but for the size and early maturity; almost every yoke especially of steers, was remarkable.

 

The cow fair was so legendary that a song was written about it. A lively two-step and male quartet was written by Philip Mack Smith in 1912. It was played at the fair and captures the original essence of the Middlefield Fair as the local folks in attendance must have felt.

 

The farm and falls were purchased by farmer and conservationist Richard Waite. Nicknamed “Waite’s Falls” during his time there, ,he ,allowed public swimming at the falls, until lewd lawbreakers ruined a good thing. Waite sold the falls and surrounding 60 acres shortly thereafter to the

What We Dug : ,Waterfalls are generally a hit with kids (and grown-ups) and Glendale does not disappoint. This is one of the highest, longest, and most powerful waterfalls in the state of Massachusetts, plunging more than 150 feet. Part of the Westfield River, it’s a rare naturally occurring Class III whitewater run. (For a bit of reference, there are a total of 5 classes in rafting).

At the top of the falls there are some wide, level spaces where you can get a good look at the water hurtling downhill. You can stand at the edge and imagine yourself on a raft with ,four foot ,w,aves shooting up ,,on all sides while the boat careens down the narrow passages.

A short trail leads to the bottom of the falls. The various stairs cut into the side of the trail provide additional tactile interest (i.e. lots of climbing) but please be cautious! There are steep areas that can make for tricky stepping.

It’s always nice to have a “final destination” when you’re out with kids. Having an endgame gives them a mental checkpoint and can be a source of encouragement when spirits start to flag. The bottom of the waterfall is a quick trip from the top but the payoff is spectacular. We spent some time taking it all in before trekking back up the way we came. We finished our afternoon with a few lively games of “Pooh Sticks.”

What We Could Do Without :

This certainly can be a busy destination. Given that there is only one trail up and down the falls it makes “social distancing” or simply enjoying the area on your own next to impossible. If you’re looking for time alone in the woods, this is not the place. Also, if you are bringing along a spirited toddler, be aware that the trail makes it’s way down the side of the cascade. Not so close that there’s fear of toppling in, but for us it certainly was somewhere we had to keep eyes on our kids at all times, not a place to let them run free to roam.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For : ,Remnants of an 18th-century grist mill on the north side of the waterfall, Hemlock, Birch, Beech, Maple, Hornbeam, Witch Hazel, Shadbush, Mountain Laurel, Painted Trillium, Hobblebush, Warblers

Must Know Before You Go’s : ,No facilities. Seasonal hunting is allowed. A Trustees permit is required. Mountain biking is not allowed. Dogs must be kept on leash at all times.

When enjoying these properties during the Health Crisis, The Trustees asks that visitors follow social distancing guidelines for the health and safety of all, and to help keep properties open in these challenging times:

  • Limit visits to open Trustees properties in your respective town or neighborhood;
  • Stay at least six feet from other visitors, including stepping aside on the trail to let others pass;
  • Please keep dogs leashed and away from other visitors at all times;
  • If a parking area is full, please come back at a less busy time.

Directions : From Pittsfield: Follow Rt. 8 South approx. 5 mi. Turn left onto Rt. 143 East. Follow for 8.1 mi. Turn right onto River Rd. (becomes East River Rd.) and follow for 5.6 mi. Turn right onto Clark Wright Rd. immediately after bridge and proceed 0.4 mi. to entrance and parking (7 cars) on right. Clark Wright Road Middlefield, MA  01243

GPS 42.349, -72.969

Website : www.thetrustees.org/glendalefalls

Resources :

THE MIDDLEFIELD FAIR: A Case Study of the Agricultural Fair in New England (Nineteenth Century)

https://marthamoments.blogspot.com/2015/12/25th-anniversary-countdown-to-christmas_18.html

Scroll through for more pictures of our Glendale Falls adventure!