Heavenly Berkshires Getaway

Well hello everyone!!  It’s nice to be back… well sort of.  I mean I totally wasn’t ready to leave our little idyllic country cabin in the woods, but it is nice to be back to the blog and to a social life!  I do have to say though, it was quite refreshing and restorative to completely disconnect and spend some quality time with my hubby away from the internet and the television and the craziness of NYC!

So – before we get to the weekend, I have to post my photo from last Tuesday night.  Tuesday we had a screening of Hello Lonesome at Tribeca Cinemas as part of the Big Apple Film Festival.  It was a tiny theater and a rather small screening – but the audience was great and really receptive to the film.  Thanks to all of you who made it out… and to those who couldn’t… don’t worry, I think there will be more NY screenings at some point!  I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted.

So, Tuesday night I got home around midnight and I hadn’t taken any photos that I liked yet.  Therefore, photo 207 was a result of a last-minute before-bedtime perusal around my apartment for something interesting to photograph.  I ended up with this:

Photo 207 out of 365 – “Headboard with Extremely Shallow Depth of Field”

Headboard with Extremely Shallow Depth of Field - Settings: ISO 800, f/1.4, 1/40 sec, 50mm lens

This is a photo of our headboard – it has horizontal ridges like you see here – but I used the lowest aperture setting available with my lens (f/1.4), you can see how the shallow depth of field creates a really interesting blurry look – with just that sliver of headboard in sharp focus in the middle.  In contrast, here is a very similar photo, this time taken with an aperture setting of f/3.2 instead of f/1.4.  You can see how changing your aperture setting can really affect the look of the photo.

Headboard 2 - Settings: ISO 1600, f/3.2, 1/13 sec, 50mm lens

In this photo, the area in focus is a little wider.  Of course, f/3.2 is still rather shallow (this lens goes up to a maximum aperture setting of f/22) – so here you still get blur, but it is a definite change from the f/1.4 setting above.  This is one reason to abandon your auto settings and start playing around with the manual camera settings… it gives you more control over the image and allows you to be more creative with the look!  Please feel free to email me with any photography questions if you are interested!

Now – let’s go away to a little cabin in the woods!

So – I booked this mini vacation only a couple weeks ago.  Adam has been working straight through since our honeymoon without a break and with everything going on in the month of October, we hadn’t had a chance to celebrate our one-year anniversary at all.  Thus I thought it would be perfect to get away for a long weekend and kiss our frantic city life goodbye in exchange for some quiet R&R in the country.  What a good idea.

We hit the road on Wednesday afternoon at around one o’clock.  We rented a mini-SUV as the owners of the cabin alerted us that it tends to be snowy this time of year and the cabin is located on an unpaved road towards the top of a mountain. AWESOME!  I found the cabin on homeaway.com a few weeks earlier.  It looked very simple in the photos – but that is what I wanted… simple and cute.  And the reviews were all stellar!  With good reason.  The cabin is located just outside of North Adams, MA – in the North of Berkshire County… about a twenty minute drive into Vermont.  Adam and I both love mountainy country landscapes – so we were in heaven before we even arrived.  Here, we pulled over along the way to document the beautiful road taking us to our cabin:

On the road on our way to the cabin

And here she is…  very plain and simple on the outside… but magical, warm and cozy on the inside.  We grew very attached in no time at all.

Our little cabin in the woods... ahhhhh.

We got the tour of the cabin from Randy, one of the owners, unloaded the car and then hopped back in for a drive to the town to load up on groceries.  When we got home, we got the fire going in the wood-burning stove and made a simple dinner – pasta with some local arrabiata pasta sauce, a big salad and some chicken breast I cooked up on the cast-iron skillet.  Here is photo 208 – the fire, which became a major focus of our weekend!  We’ve discovered we’re both sort of pyros!

Photo 208 out of 365 – “Cozy Wood-Burning Stove”

"Cozy Wood Burning Stove" - Settings: ISO 3200, f/3.5, 1/15 sec, 50mm lens

 

Now it was a good thing we stocked up on groceries on Wednesday night, because it poured all day Thursday and we did not leave the house!!  It was wonderful.  Adam had a couple film-related things he needed to get done, so he worked away on his computer, while I kept the fire going all day, took photos around the house and got experimental in the kitchen.  I wanted to make a potato soup – similar to one I loved as a child, but I had no recipe.  There used to be this baked potato soup at Houlihan’s restaurant… do you remember Houlihan’s?  Anyway, it was delicious and thick and chunky with little crumbles of cheese and bacon on top and I was craving it.  So – without a recipe, I decided to follow a recipe for clam chowder instead, substituting chicken broth for the clam broth and adding shredded cheese to the mix.  It ended up coming out pretty good – though it wasn’t as thick and chunky as I wanted it to be.  But – it made a good hearty dinner on a cold rainy day!  Here are some of my cabin shots from Thursday:

Photo 209 out of 365 – “Cabin Interior”

"Cabin Interior" - Settings: ISO 3200, f/3.2, 1/100 sec, 50mm lens

The thermometer on our front porch... was under 40 most of the visit!

Adam at work - of course he still manages to sneak in some computer time!

Stones piled on one of the cabin's wood beams

After a relaxing day, we ate our potato soup for dinner and watched About Shmidt on Adam’s computer.  I thought it was ok… very depressing and slow, but entertaining nonetheless.

On Friday I had a bit of literal “cabin fever”… from not leaving the house on Thursday, so after a nice home-cooked breakfast by Adam our breakfast chef, we headed into town to explore.  We went to a great little coffee shop in N. Adams called Elf Parlor, where we got hot drinks and Adam took advantage of the free wifi for a few minutes to send out some important documents.  Then we checked out the little town of Williamstown – super charming.  Here is Adam taking my picture standing in the middle of Main Street… as you can see… it was rather quiet.

Adam standing in the middle of Main Street in Williamstown, MA

Then we took a drive out past the center of Williamstown to look for this country farm store the waitress at Elf Parlor told us about.  Along the way, the sun started to come out a little bit and we saw this gorgeous rainbow form – we pulled over immediately to capture it!

 

Photo 210 out of 365 – “Rainbow in Country Paradise”

"Rainbow in Country Paradise" - Settings: ISO 200, f/10, 1/60 sec, 50mm lens

I mean, come on!  Could it get any prettier?  I was freaking out.  Then we arrived at the Green River Farms, which was also ridiculously picturesque and wonderful.  At the country store I bought some beef & thick cut bacon for the beef burgundy recipe I planned to make on Saturday.  Here are some pictures from the farm:

A scarecrow at Green River Farms in Williamstown

I couldn't resist... little Adam drives a tractor!!

The sky was CRAZY beautiful and stormy! I pulled over to take some shots as we left the farm.

When we got home, we decided to make some cocktails and have a rummy 500 tournament.  We are both rather competitive when it comes to rummy 500, so this resulted in a rowdy evening to follow, including lots of trash talking and finally a drunken dance party!  Good times!  I believe Adam won that round of rummy… but I won our other two games, making me the overall rummy 500 champion of the weekend!  YES!  Victory is mine.  Here is Adam winning (for the time being).

Adam shuffling the cards and laughing at something...

On Saturday we had an artsy day.  We started off by exploring these artists lofts in N. Adams that are located in old mill buildings.  One of the buildings is called the Eclipse Mill.   Here we found a book seller with the most amazing collection of books!  We spent about an hour checking out his selection and left with a few purchases.  I bought a photography book about Edward Weston.  Adam bought a book about the making of Woody Allen’s movie “Radio Days“, a book about Hawaiian birds (for a movie idea we came up with on our honeymoon) and a movie poster design book.

After the mill, we headed to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), where we first ate lunch at the Gramercy Bistro, which is located in the museum.  I had the most wonderful curried sweet potato soup and a vegetarian lasagna made with butternut squash, spinach, ricotta and a brown butter sage sauce.  It was heavenly!  I want to re-create it at home.  After lunch, we toured the museum, which was very cool.  I had never been there before but read a lot about it when researching the Berkshire area for our wedding.

Mass MoCA Museum (Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams, MA

One of our favorite exhibits was called “Material World: Sculpture to Environment” – where artists used everyday materials to make large-scale installations, which took up entire rooms!  The best one was made by Tobias Putrih – here is a description from boston.com:

One installation, by Tobias Putrih, stretches long strands of fishing line across a dark and cavernous gallery. Bunched neatly together, the parallel lines start high on one wall, ending low on the opposite one. A single light source illuminates the strands at about the midway point, causing an optical effect reminiscent of spinning rotor blades or a mystical halo.

You can follow the path of the stretched filaments, which slowly descend below head height to waist level, in a tunnel-like space the dimensions of which become harder to perceive as you move away from the light.

I wasn’t allowed to take photos in that gallery – but here is one from the MASS MoCA website – it was an amazing exhibit… I walked through the tunnel of course and it felt really cool… like you were entering some time warp or something.

 

Photo from MASS MoCA website (www.massmoca.org)

Another great exhibit was in the kidspace called “Pink and Blue Projects” by Portia Munson.  Here is the museum’s description of the exhibit:

Munson will use paintings, photographs, and everyday objects to organize an installation focusing on how the colors pink and blue help to shape and reinforce gender roles. Her work will also be used to discuss the mixed messages sent to children about gender and about mass consumption. The sheer mass quantity of collected pink and blue material goods to be displayed will make plain how children are indoctrinated into the world of materialism and are taught social rules for gender identity.

It was interesting (and a tad disturbing) to examine even adult products like deodorants and razors marketed to us in pink and blue packaging!  In one section of the gallery space, there was a room set up of everything PINK!  My niece Monique would be in heaven in this room!

 

Photo 211 out of 365 – “Pink Explosion”

"Pink Explosion" - Settings: ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/160, 50mm lens

 

After our day of art appreciation, we picked up a few more things at the grocery store and headed back home.  We were a little homesick for the cabin now after being gone all morning and afternoon!  Immediately upon arriving, I started making my beef burgundy, which was from a Cooks Illustrated recipe.  I had the Meryl Streep version of Julia Child in my head talking about “beef bourguignon” with her high-pitched voice!  I kept mimicking her as I danced around the kitchen putting together all the ingredients.  The recipe looked like it would take about three hours to cook.  After all was said and done, it took over five hours from start to finish!  We ended up eating our beef bourguingnon at ten o’clock at night – a little heavy, yes… but yummy – and RICH!

I learned something with this recipe… first, beef bourguingnon is NOT worth making for two people… though we ate the leftovers last night for dinner and it was divine reheated the second day!  Second, this is a type of recipe for people who simply love to cook.  If not for the experience of cooking, I do not know why  you would make a dish this complicated and labor-intensive.  As you know, after five hours of cooking, it is gone within ten minutes of eating!  That being said, I did actually enjoy the process and the cabin smelled heavenly all night long!  So, I’m glad I did it.

Finally, we arrive at Sunday… boo hoo… it was time to pack up all our belongings and leave our little cabin in the woods.  We were super sad.  We have vowed to return someday not too far away – maybe in the Summer or even during the winter when everything is covered in snow!  It was a wonderfully relaxing weekend and truthfully, time in the country like that really just fills my soul.  We will miss our little cabin in the woods.  I wish I were still there right now… typing at the little writer’s desk, looking out the window at the trees and mountains in the distance… ahhhhhh.

Before we left the area, we decided on a slight detour and took our car up a switchback-heavy road to the summit of Mount Greylock – the highest point in all of Massachusetts.  As we started nearing the top, the tree branches became covered in frost – then, all of a sudden it was snowing!  It was so beautiful seeing the top of the mountain covered in a dusty snow:

Approaching the summit of Mount Greylock... things started getting all snowy!

Which brings us to the final photo of our Berkshires weekend getaway:

Photo 212 out of 365 – “Wintry Branch”

"Wintry Branch" - Settings: ISO 100, f/6.3, 1/100 sec, 65mm (28-105mm lens)

 

So there you have it… I’d say we definitely have a fantasy now of having a house in the Berkshires at some point in our future.  It is so beautiful and open and quiet… and with our wedding weekend there, it sort of just feels right – you know?  I enjoyed this northern Berkshire County area too (our wedding was in the Southern Berkshire County).  The town of N. Adams has so much character – with the old mills and the houses climbing the steep hillsides.  It is really an awesome place.  Our snowy send-off was the perfect end to a lovely weekend, which exceeded all expectations.  If only it could have lasted just a bit longer…

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