Sunday, May 28, 2017

Tick Marks

The Blackberry River Dam which powered the Beckley Furnace

In Salisbury, Connecticut, Tim and I participated in building a home for Habitat for Humanity, our eleventh Care-A-Vanners build.  Although we were concerned that the prevalent lyme disease might be passed to us by ticks, we avoided any marks by spraying ourselves liberally with insect repellant each morning.  So this post is not about ticks.  Rather, while we were there, we explored the surrounding area of the Berkshires and made tick marks against a few items on our bucket list.

The Appalachian Trail

When we first arrived at Lone Oak Campground, we were handed a map of the local area.  As I studied it, I noticed the faint dash marks tracing the portion of the Appalachian Trail that crosses the northwest corner of Connecticut.

Hiking the entire length of the trail from Georgia to Maine is a challenge I always thought I'd like to try one day, but now that my hair is gray, I fear my opportunity has flown.  Yet, here was a chance to hike a few miles of its length.  I grabbed it and convinced Tim to come along.

Great Falls of the Housatonic River

We weren't disappointed, especially since we were able to view the Great Falls along the way.

The Norman Rockwell Museum

When we planned this trip to Connecticut, I plotted to squeeze in a visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, another item on my bucket list.  I can remember as a child skipping down the driveway to grab the mail out of our farm's mailbox.  If I was lucky, an edition of the Saturday Evening Post awaited me.  Spread on its cover would be an illustration by Norman Rockwell, a drawing that in itself told a story.  I'd dawdle back to the house as I absorbed its meaning.

Freedom of Speech

We arrived at the museum in time for a gallery tour with a docent who pointed out details that enriched our visit.  Perhaps the best-known illustrations Rockwell drew were his Four Freedoms first articulated by President Franklin Roosevelt in his 1941 State of the Union speech.  In Freedom of Speech, the resemblance of the blue-collar man to Abraham Lincoln, so admired by Rockwell, would have escaped me without the docent's mention.

Freedom of Worship

Similarly, I would not have noticed the tightness of the wedding ring on the hand of the elderly woman depicted in Freedom of Worship and yet that symbol of faithfulness adds another depth of meaning to this illustration.

Freedom From Want

Rockwell's illustrations are populated with the faces of his neighbors, friends and family members.  For Freedom From Want, Rockwell photographed his family's cook, Mrs. Thaddeus Wheaton, as she served the turkey on Thanksgiving Day 1942; then, used that photo to paint this picture.  Rockwell's mother Nancy and his wife Mary are seated at the table as well.

Freedom From Fear

In Freedom From Fear, the father looking on as the mother tucks the children into bed holds a newspaper.  Its heading is incomplete,;only the letters "Bombings Ki...Horror Hit" appear, a reference to the Blitz of London that began in September 1940.  Because of this bombardment, British children were massively evacuated from their homes in London, a crisis that Americans did not face.

Rockwell called his Stockbridge studio his "best studio yet."  Originally, it stood in the backyard of his home on South Street, but was moved to the museum grounds in 1985.  It was interesting to see where he worked.

Rockwell's Studio

One funny anecdote concerns his acquisition of his "gladiator" helmut, one of the numerous props and costumes used by Rockwell in his illustrations.  He purchased it from an antique shop in Paris during one of his visits there.  Soon after, he was standing on a Parisian street when a fire engine sped by.  The firemen were all wearing the same helmut.  Rockwell called it his "humility helmut."

The Old Covered Bridge

As we drove back from Stockbridge, we just happened to see a sign post along route 7 in time to make the turn onto Bridge Road.  There we found a covered bridge that spans the Housatonic River near Sheffield, MA.  I'd hoped we'd see one of these while we were in New England.  Although this is a replica of the 1832 truss bridge that was destroyed by fire in 1994, its postcard-perfect look still had plenty of charm.

Only pedestrians may use the bridge these days which was fine with us.  We enjoyed its 93-foot length as a chance to stretch our legs.

The Beckley Furnace

Last of all was a new item added to our bucket list, the Beckley Iron Furnace.  Daily as we drove to the Habitat build site, we passed a sign that said, "Beckley Furnace."  So, one day after work, we stopped to investigate this sight next to the Blackberry River.  Drawing on the high quality ore from the Salisbury area, limestone from local quarries and charcoal from the surrounding hardwood forest, this furnace forged iron used primarily to make railroad car wheels.  Built in 1847, the Beckley Furnace operated until 1919, making it one of the last of its kind to operate in the United States.                             

The Housatonic River

Tick, tick, tick, tick!  Marking these four items off our bucket list made memories we'll enjoy for a long time.


  1. I tried to make the photo with the purple flowers a little bigger to see if your blooms were the same (or similar) to the rocket flowers I featured on the blog today. I couldn't get it larger, so I'm not sure. But I thought it a fun happenstance anyway.

    I took photos of a covered bridge in Kentucky on one of our trips to visit Brent when he was working at Morehead State University. It was something I'd always wanted to see, too.

    Norman Rockwell reveals a great slice of Americana. Thanks for sharing your adventures!

    1. I think they are your Dame's Rockets. I'll send you a better photo so you can decide but they look the same to me. Those immigrants who brought their seeds to the U.S. in the 17th century would be surprised to see them scattered all across the country. We even saw them in Glacier National Park last summer.

      In the little research I did about covered bridges, I learned there are over 800 of them in the U.S. so that's one down for you and me; 799+ to go!

  2. Amazing story about Norman Rockwell. You probably remember we have the four freedoms framed in our basement and treasure the meaning behind them. I enjoyed your illustration and story behind them.

    1. Thanks, Yas! I noticed your prints when we saw you a few weeks ago and thought you were a fellow fan. Perhaps one day you'll visit his museum, too. You would enjoy seeing a broad range of his work.

  3. Your Bucket List must be as long as an amended tax form! I recall Talarah G telling me she and a friend walked the Appalachian Trail one summer. What an accomplishment. Great scenery in your area, and I totally enjoy your descriptive visualizations for those reading about your journeys.

    1. Your analogy is spot-on and very funny, Terry! Could I use that in the future when I revisit our bucket list? Talarah's hike is quite an accomplishment. I'd brag about it, too, if I'd ever done it. A friend hiked the Pacific Crest Trail through Oregon and told me of all the planning he did to receive food packets and clean socks along the way. Interesting!

  4. Love the Norman Rockwell Museum info. We'll have to add it to our list on our next trip to the Northeast. You've inspired us. We are getting back into the HFH thing this summer...

    1. Lansing and Sioux Falls HFH are lucky to have you on their teams. Stay safe and do add the Rockwell Museum to your list of Places To Visit Before I Die!