Tuesday, March 17, 2009
A liberal oasis in Western Massachusetts
I’ve known some natives of towns like Northampton - and often they are not as impressed with these little oases of liberalism as I am. I do like these little towns & cities - places like Northampton, Massachusetts; Bloomington, Indiana; and Asheville, North Carolina, Yes, they can have an artificial and precious quality - but they also are home to a lively community of dissent. Nice bookstores. Good restaurants. Street musicians.
Northampton is home to a Smith College, which is adjacent to the downtown. I was staying with Erin, a recent graduate of Smith College. Slept on her couch. She’s a friend of Susan, whose poems I posted earlier. I’ll include some poems of Erin in a separate posting here.
From Northampton, I took Route 9 to Worcester. It’s a pretty road - but not a fast road. It runs south of the Quabbin Reservoir. One of the largest man-made public water supplies in the United States, the Quabbin Reservoir covers 39 square miles and has the capacity to hold 412 billion gallons of water, according to the little fact sheet posted at the visitors center. Four towns were completely moved in the 1930s during the creation of the reservoir.
The creation of the reservoir and the protected area around it was a boon for wildlife. Some of the animals have been shot and stuffed, and now adorn the walls of the visitor center.
Here are some pictures of Smith College, downtown Northampton, Quabbin Reservoir, and some stuffed animals. Oh - and a photo of a diner in Leicester, MA. I liked the Moxie sign. (For those of you who don't know New England, the word "moxie" - which is a little archaic now - comes from this beverage. Moxie was one of those creations of the late 1800s - a mixture of patent medicine and beverage. I lived in New England for years - but I never tried it. It's supposed to be good for ailments ranging from softening of the brain to “loss of manhood,” according to its Wikipedia entry.