We went on a trip to the Berkshires and lower Vermont last weekend, figuring it was a good time to see the foliage up north. We dumped the little D with friends in Canton CT for the two-and-a-half days we were away, quite beyond the call of duty (thank you, H & F!)
So he had a great time. He tired out our friends' large, friendly dog who would endlessly play tug-of-war with him. He ran around their 20- (or is it 30-) acre property, complete with stream and koi pond, and is now suggesting that maybe he likes the "country" better than the city (over my dead body, I reply) and points out that New York, in spite of its attractions, is "dirty." So is the country, I say, there's dirt there; and bugs and ticks-- this last resonated with him as he acquired one in his ear from the dog. This is the kid who, when we were in Eugene, OR for a couple of years, would prefer to sit on a parking lot carstop rather than wander the verdant fields of the University of Oregon. How the mighty have fallen.
We were more worried about our friends than the D, who has, ever since he was a teeny baby, been quite comfortable with being away from his parents. He practically begs us to get a baby sitter every now and then. The first time he was away from us, at 2-1/2, in Los Angeles with his aunt while we researched Park Slope houses, we called him as soon as we got to NY; his reaction when told that Mom was on the phone? "I'll talk to them later (sub-text: I'm busy)."
Coming as we do from California, and still getting used to the seasonal changes, our trip was quite enjoyable. We drove up towards Middlebury, Maine, stopping the first night at a "resort", the only place we could get a room (well, not a room but an apartment that would be be envy of the average Manhattanite.)
On the way we visited the Edith Wharton summer "getaway" (it's more like a castle) with its partially restored rooms and beautiful gardens. Quite a spectacle, and made me appreciate why Wharton wrote about the milieu she did; she was squarely one of them.
The second night we stayed at the Chipman Inn in Ripton, Vermont...quite pleasant, and Joyce the innkeeper was quite the mystery fan and we had interesting conversations about various writers. That, to me, is the joy of staying in small hotels or B&B's, you never know who you might meet or what they're interested in.
Several small towns we visited were what I consider small towns should be--not completely given over to the tourist trade (though I suspect these actually were very dependent on tourists), old fashioned charm and walkable. Middlebury certainly filled this bill--the picture here is from an old building that's cantilevered over a 19th century bridge over the river that flows thought the center of town.
Bennington and Williamstown (MA), were equally charming. We visited the Williams College Art Museum there, a small but eclectic collection that spans the art gamut from ancient to modern. A particularly nice installation was "Urban Landscape" by Zhan Wang, just the right touch of whimsy for me.
Back to "dirty" Brooklyn. Dylan's comments made me actually realize how true this is. And it's not just the sheer density of our urban landscape, which does contribute to the mess. But Brownstone Brooklyn could be much cleaner and prettier (flower boxes?) pick up the trash, maybe?
And the first time I called a store back here and get the "whattya want" syndrome, I realize how friendly people are in the small towns. Our waiter at the great restaraunt Marie and Tulley's in Middlebury was so helpful it seemed downright spooky - what drug's he on?
Oh well, I do still love (really) New York!