Apr 20, 2005

Location, Location, Location

One thing I keep thinking about with this impending change is how much I'm going to leave behind. So, as the inspiration strikes I want to write about some of the things that make it so wonderful. The greatest part about my life in Massachusetts is without hesitation the people I've met here. But writing a blog post about them, gets me so caught up in emotion that I can't type more than a series of grateful adjectives before I get lost in daydreams and wistful ponderings. So, although I'll get to them sooner or later... I'll start with something a little less difficult to write about: Geography.

The Pioneer Valley, the 'Happy Valley', is nestled comfortably in the Connecticut river Valley of Western Massachusetts. It's a smattering of towns and small cities in a vast patchwork of greenery.

In 1864 a painter named Thomas Charles Farrer painted this view from the top of the Northampton State Hospital thats now at the Smith college Museum of art:

Which, even though it was painted 140 years ago, doesn't look too much different than this picture I took from the top of Mt Tom last summer:

Perhaps not much has changed since then even though that was in the final throws of the US Civil War. At that time Massachusetts was fiercely fighting for it's idealistic vision of American Freedom. It was a stronghold for the newly formed Republican party when that party fought hard to end human slavery. And today, Massachusetts was the first state in the union to legalize same sex marriages which is a major battle for human rights in todays American culture Wars.

It's funny how history can have a kind of poetry.

PS) Earlier this year Sam and I braved a blizzard, a harrowing trek through a haunted building and a breaking and entering charge to try to take a picture of the same view Farrer had. The huge castle-like State Hospital is still perched proudly overlooking Northampton although it's been abandoned for decades. This is what I saw:

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