zird is the word (lizardek) wrote,
zird is the word
lizardek

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SEEING THE SIGHTS—START!

Having a 3-day weekend in the middle of my business trip was an unexpected bonus. I never think about Labor Day being in September anymore since the European Labor Day is May 1st and the only reason the American date ever crosses my radar is when I need an answer from someone in the US office and they're not laboring because it's Labor Day. The same thing happens on Memorial Day and St. Patrick's Day and even, sadly, Thanksgiving. They're not holidays here, so I don't think about them as days off. Though I DO, now, think about Ascension Day and Epiphany (which got yanked as a holiday a couple of years ago in favor of Sweden's National Day instead) and the aforementioned May 1st.

When we planned the trip dates, the US Marketing Manager wasn't thinking about holidays either. We were simply counting backwards from the conference I was going to be helping prepare the materials for to make sure that we had ample time for layout, review, printing, and shipping and that gave us the first 2 weeks of September, which I immediately booked. So I was quite pleasantly surprised to realize that one of the days I was in the US working would be a day off.

Mom and I drove all over Massachusetts during those 3 days. We met my uncle and aunt (who live in Albany, NY) at the Eric Carle Picture Book Art Museum just outside of Amherst. While we were waiting for them, we stopped at a lovely country farm grocery store that had the most beautiful assortment of goods I've ever seen. They even had a little sushi bar with fantastic looking sushi ready to go, so when Sam & Joanne arrived at the museum and we discovered that the museum cafe only offered vending machine options, we went back down the road and I got sushi while the rest had salads and sandwiches. Score!

The Eric Carle was FANTASTIC. I only wish there had been more to it. There were 3 big galleries: one a permanent collection of Eric Carle's work. The other 2 galleries rotate and we got lucky because one of my favorites was there: Ernst H. Shepard's original illustrations for Winnie the Pooh. The third gallery featured Tomie dePaola who I wasn't as familiar with, but who impressed me mightily. Each gallery had a bench or two with a box of books available for anyone to sit down and read or flip through as well. There was also a great big library room stuffed full of picture books (where the librarian was engaged in music and storytelling for a rapt audience of small children) and a huge WONDERFUL museum store that must have contained nearly every picture book ever printed and then some. It was really great.

In fact, we spent so much time in the museum store oohing and ahhing over everything that we were very nearly late for the last tour at the Emily Dickinson House in downtown Amherst and had to race back to town. We weren't able to take the "Emily Dickinson's World" tour which goes through both her house and her brother's next door and which gives much more information about her family and the scandals that rocked it. We did read a bit about it in the waiting room though, before going on the "This was a Poet" tour which was actually a bit hokey, though I think that was due to our guide and not the subject matter.

After leaving the museum, we walked into town and stopped in the Amherst Brewery for a drink and to talk before deciding where to go for dinner. Plus Joanne wanted to watch the US Open Oudin-Sharapova match. We asked the bartender for recommendations and she gave us a surprised face and said, "It's Moving In Weekend here for the colleges and you probably won't get in anywhere unless you have a reservation...I'd get the hell out of town if I were you!" She told us to drive 2 towns south to Northhampton and said we'd find a veritable plethora of good places to eat all along the downtown streets: we couldn't go wrong.

Except that when we got into Northhampton, it was even more crazy crowded than Amherst because it was hosting the Tri-County Fair! People were everywhere! The place was totally jumping. Stores, boutiques and galleries were open late, buskers were out in force along the sidewalks and every restaurant was jam-packed. BUT! We found parking spaces for both cars almost immediately on the main drag and we spotted the one restaurant she had mentioned by name and discovered they had a 3-course dinner which enabled choosing from nearly everything on the menu for $20 and MAN, was it good! Spoleto's, for those interested.

After dinner, we walked around the town, weaving through the clumps and bunches of people out having a good time,and popped in and out of every little store and boutique that caught our eyes. I found Laini's Ladies in one place and was proud to show off a blog friend's beautiful stuff to my relatives! The weather was warm, the atmosphere was energetic and the sun took its time going down. It was just a splendidly nice day, all around.

And it was only the first!

Dancing in the Breeze (no special effects): Blueberrymoon's daughter's hair

Great stuff: And the pursuit of happiness
Tags: americanabroad, goodthings
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