We drove up Saturday morning and stopped in Stockbridge for lunch. Some very nice little shops in downtown Stockbridge, including one that sells all kinds of lunch boxes, novelty ties, Star Wars figures, posters, obscure CDs, etc. The kids would have loved it -- something for each of them there. (That was a theme for the weekend -- "The kids would have loved it." They were jealous enough before we even left.)
Two observations about the good people of Westewrn Massachusetts:
First, the drivers are insane. There are few traffic lights in the Berkshires, and the stop signs are more or less optional. Or people do stop, but they don't bother with the second part of the stop sign rule, "Wait until traffic is clear and then go." I was amazed at the people who pulled out into traffic and let those-who-actually-have-the-right-of-way just deal with it. My theory: displaced New Yorkers and Bostonians who came to the Berkshires for the peace and quiet, and who now were competing with one another for space on the country roads.
Second: I've visited about 30 states and 7 foreign countries, and I've never seen any group of people so devoted to wearing hats that are walking that fine line between Really Cool and Really Ridiculous Looking (and I'm including Louisville during Derby season). I wore a boring baseball cap for the weekend, and I kept telling Isabel I really needed a better hat. James Taylor himself embodied this Cool/Ridiculous gray zone of hats in all of the advertisements for his Tanglewood performance, taken from the cover of his latest album:
John thought he was wearing a nightcap and asked if we would bring one back for him.
That, too, sums up the whole Cool/Ridiculous hat thing pretty well, come to think of it.
After lunch and some shopping, we went to The Mount, the summer home of Edith Wharton, the famous American Writer -- one of Isabel's favorites, and I like her, too. Very cool home, and our tour guide was fantastic.
We walked through the gardens after the tour, and then stuck around for the Evening Cafe and listened to a folk guitar duo on the deck overlooking the gardens. Very nice.
There was a brew pub across the street from our hotel, and we had dinner there. We were asked to move our table a minute after we were seated so they could fit a high chair in, and we gladly agreed. The man next to us said, "I would have held out for a beer." I laughed and mentioned that to the hostess, who promptly brought us two free beers. Good deal. I wasn't expecting to be rewarded for moving.
Our waitress came over after a while and said, "I would have been here sooner, but I saw your shirt." I was wearing my Red Sox shirt (Number 31, Jon Lester, NHL survivor.) She was sassy, and gave me guff about the Red Sox all night. I gave it back to her of course: when she dropped our check, I asked her if she was doing her A-Rod imitation. (She laughed, and agreed that it was unfortunately accurate.)
On Sunday, the weather was beautiful -- sun and clouds, high 70's. We checked out of the hotel and stopped at Catherine's Chocolates (how could we not, given our daughter Catherine's obsession with chocolate?), had a quick lunch, and headed to Tanglewood. It was pretty obvious that we weren't going to be able to see the stage wherever we were able to set up (we had lawn seats, and the decent spaces were all taken), so we went for comfort and set up our chairs under a tree, near the bathroom. A bottle of wine, some cheese and crackers, fruit and good chocolate -- the only thing better would have been being serenaded by James Taylor himself, and we got that, too.
But first came John Williams conducting the Boston Pops, doing some of Williams' pieces from Superman, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. This was another of those moments when we thought the kids would have loved being there, especially John with his love of Star Wars. (The kids all love this video tribute.)
James Taylor came out after the intermission, and led off with "Sweet Baby James," which I predicted. I also predicted the predictable cheers when he sand about Stockbridge, ten minutes away. He was great. He sang most of the songs I had hoped he would sing, and we did walk up the front so we could actually see him for a few minutes.
I think this was the fourth time I'd seen him play. The kids (John and Catherine, more than Peter) really like him, and when we travel, I like to listen to him so I can sing along and stay awake while I drive. So, again, they were jealous.
An excellent weekend all around, and a great way to celebrate Isabel's upcoming birthday and the beginning of my sabbatical.
Thanks Mom and Dad for taking such good care of the kids.