Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.

(the title is from a poem by Emily Dickinson, who’s home I visited this week.)

Most of this week was the norm: yoga, dinner with a friend (oysters!), thank you card writing, and then dinner with (newly engaged) friends. It was nice and relaxing, and I even had an evening off (in which we wrote thank you cards). It was good to have a light week, since we had some activities planned for the weekend that would take us out of the house a lot.

On Friday, after a very successful dentist appointment, Jason and I drove to Amherst to check out the Emily Dickinson Museum. The museum is based in what they call Emily’s “homestead”, or the house where she spent most of her life. She lived in the house until she was 15, then moved to a larger (and much preferred, it turns out) house, until she was 25. Then her family was able to buyback their original home. It’s a modest and lovely house, sparse on the furniture, but filled with history and the general feeling of genius. Our tour guide really made the tour: she was a retiree with a true love of Emily Dickinson. She read us poems as we toured the rooms, and she was just genuinely excited to be there. Her only flaw was that she practically begged us to ask questions, but when we would, she wouldn’t answer them and instead moved on. Alas.

The house has a smattering of family photographs around, and a small library with a few original books and decorations. Unfortunately, a lot of Emily’s original furniture and belongings were donated to other museums. We did, however, get to see the bedroom she rarely left (she was quite a recluse), which is currently under renovation in an attempt to make it look like it did when she lived there. 

Next door was Emily’s brother Austin’s home, called Evergreens. He built the house when Emily and the rest of the family moved back to the homestead, so he could live alone with his wife. It was a super funky house, definitely the style of an eccentric Victorian couple. The best part of the Evergreens was that all of the furniture, wallpaper, floors, draperies – you name it! –  were original to the house. YUP! It was all over 100 years old! The wallpaper was peeling, but why replace it when it’s what Austin’s wife chose herself? It was too bad that Emily hadn’t spent much time there, but some of the furniture had once belonged over at the homestead, so perhaps Emily had used it…

After our visit and a small tour of the gift shop (I got a really cute t-shirt), we indulged in a scrumptious lunch. We decided to go check out a winery we had seen along the way, instead of adventuring to a local bookstore (I have absolutely no space for more books). After several wrong turns we found our way to Amherst Farm Winery, and treated ourselves to a tasting. The wine was pretty good (she says with a surprised tone) and we ended up buying 4 bottles. The store itself was lovely; there was an outdoor deck that you could dine on, bringing your own food to go with their wine. There was also a goat in the backyard, who basically shouted at me and showed me all the things he could climb. Adorable.

When Jason paid for the wine and tastings, the clerk told us that if we brought our receipt to their sister winery, Hardwick Vineyard and Winery, we could get a free tasting. Not ones to pass up free booze (and it being on the way home), we pulled up the address on our GPA and made our way there. It was a lovely, winding drive through the back roads of MA. And this winery was stunning. It was situated on an old farm, surrounded by grapes. There were quite a few people there, most either on the porch drinking with friends, but there were a few couples scattered around the property, stealing romantic moments. The wine here was pretty great as well (they are award winning!) and we ended up buying 4 more bottles. We lamented over not having the time to stay and enjoy a glass on the porch, and promised to come back some weekend to do so.

We wrapped up our wonderful day by having an adventure. Instead of taking I-90 all the way home, we stayed on route 9. The first half was fun as it wove through tiny New England towns (we took turns shouting out funny store names we spied), but once we hit Worchester, the road was less so as we found ourselves surrounded by cities and big box stores. Still, it was nice to try something new. We were still full from lunch to have a real dinner, so we instead had ice cream, followed up by a new bottle of wine for dessert. Delicious.

Jason and I rounded out our week by going on a morning hike with our friends, Michelle and Jason (going forward, he’ll be called Maurice). Maurice took us to the eastern most part of the Skyline Trail in the Blue Hills Reservation, a 600-acre state park just south of Boston. It was a gorgeous morning for it: the temperature hovered in the mid 60s-low 70s, and the humidity held off for most of our hike. I think the trail itself is considered moderate, but it was easier than the last hike Jason took me on. This one was mostly flat, with a handful of inclines and downhills, and one annoying rock face that needed special attention. It was such a good morning (save my achy leg). We walked a total of 6 miles in about 3 1/2 hours. The views were pretty cool, in most places you could make out the city pretty clearly! 

After the hike we went back to Mich and Maurice’s house for a beer – brewed by Maurice and DAMN if that wasn’t one of the best I’ve had.

All in all, it was a busy, but still relaxing week. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get wastey-face drunk? Probably. (I didn’t mention the party we went to on Saturday, but there isn’t much to say except it was REALLY fun and there was improv and I had really good cider.)

Coming up this week: oh, nothing. Just a weekend home alone (woot woot)!

Hiking is for Besties!
Michelle insisted that a picture of us get added to this entry. Aren’t we the prettiest?
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