“…the Mount was to give me country cares and joys, long happy rides and drives through the wooded lanes of that loveliest region, the companionship of a few dear friends, and the freedom from the trivial obligations which was necessary if I was to go on with my writing. The Mount was my first real home…”Edith Wharton
Oof. I don’t know about you, but this mama is tyyy-eerd. Lately, it feels like I’m endlessly oscillating between humid days spent meeting the needs of uhh…everyone; to sleepless humid nights worrying if I met the needs of uhh…everyone. Most of the time I don’t even remember to check in with myself. Sound familiar to anyone? Cut to Friday last week. The kids were happily playing at a family members, (thank god for pandemic pods!) and I had 4-wheels and 5 hours ahead of me. What was a girl to do? Go grocery shopping??! NAH, let ’em starve! (I jest! But I actually did do that after…’cause mother guilt is like a real medical condition y’all, or at least it should be.)
That Friday afternoon, I channeled my innermost country aristocrat. I shook off the trappings of my most trivial obligations, stepped on the gas through the wooded lanes of Lenox, and pulled into the Mount’s iron gates towards freedom.
The Mount was home to writer Edith Wharton. In 1902, she bought the 130-acres for $40,600 and set to work building her country retreat. The Grounds are currently open daily to the public, dawn to dusk, and free of charge. Self-guided tours of the Main House resume July 16th and advance reservations are required.
I parked in the upper lot and started the 1/4 mile walk to the Main House under the gracious shade trees. (Vehicles with handicapped plates may drive down and park in the designated spaces next to the Main House.)
I took a short detour onto the Ledge Walk, beckoned by the umbrella-like Ganoderms waiting for rain. The Ledge Walk is one of 3 short trails on the Mount grounds, which also includes the Woodland Walk and the Beaver Pond Trail, a 4-mile loop with pond views and frequent bald eagle sightings.
After a rather buggy but tranquil jaunt, I found myself back on the paved path, close by the Main House and sprawling gardens. To my left, perched on a small hill, is Edith’s pet cemetery. Edith loved her dogs and six little headstones dot the mound, a nighttime stop on seasonal ghost tours. Admittedly, I have a somewhat strange and eccentric fascination with cemeteries, particularly old ones and I never pass up an opportunity to explore.
Down the hill is the French Flower Garden, bursting with color. It was Wharton’s niece, Beatrix Jones Farrand, a budding garden designer that contributed so heavily to the design of the Mount’s incredible gardens and the fruits of their collaboration are nothing beyond breathtaking. If you crave the shade, you’ll find the Woodland Walk & Beaver Pond Trail close-by.
The Terrace Café had just re-opened the day I visited. To elevate your day out considerably, grab some lunch (or a white-peach Sangria!) and picnic on the grounds. Or you can just head to the sunken Italian Garden and breathe in the begonias.
Wharton scholars say that it was here in Lenox that she felt she could do her best work and I can fully understand why. The peace of the grounds is unbeatable. The views, the smells, the colors, and the quiet make it a true sensory feast. It’s easy to pull up a small alcove, lean into the lushness, and find inspiration.
Which is just what I did. The groceries can wait.
For more information, visit edithwharton.org
The Mount is located at 2 Plunkett Street (at the corner of Route 7) Lenox, MA
Please review and follow the Mount’s Health and Safety Guidelines while on property
Paved & gravel paths accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. Dogs are allowed but must remain leashed.
If you do visit with family, check out this great Outdoor Scavenger Hunt!