Groundhog Day, Imbolc, New Moon, St. Brigid’s Day, the Lunar New Year of the Tiger, Candlemas — celebrations featuring animals, goddesses, candles, fire and light, promises of spring, new growth, and the calendar wheel turning as the earth and all her beings turn with it. Throughout the year, there are so many opportunities for new beginnings, rebirth, fresh starts, and restarts — from new moons and old moons, fire festivals, feast and high holy days, holidays and sometimes just the simple turn of a calendar page.
Do you ever close your eyes when you need to feel like you’re in a different place, and you actually manage to take yourself there? You KNOW you’re in that place because not only are you in your mind with it, but it is in your body with you. My friend Donald used to talk about astral projection and I’m beginning to think he was on to something. When you know a place so well, like you know a well-beloved, you quiet your mind, and go within, and I swear Donald’s astral projection can take you there.
It will be two weeks now since we arrived at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge for a first time stay there. Our last trip out to the Berkshires, we’d stayed at its sister motel up the road in Great Barrington, The Briarcliff. I’d always figured the Red Lion would be way out of our price range, but after that visit to the Briarcliff we were intrigued by the Red Lion, and lo and behold, it’s more affordable than one might think, especially in a world of corporate Marriotts, Hiltons, and the like. It’s an old inn, born and reborn over the course of a couple of hundred years, the site of a tavern on an old stagecoach stop between Albany and Boston. The outside can be a bit deceiving, and gave Marty pause as he did not know what to expect on the inside. However, I did, as I’d popped into the lobby on our prior visit. It does not disappoint — with its quiet, friendly demeanor, and a genteel elegance, when you step over the threshold, especially during a holiday season, you will be transported to the once upon a time world of your childhood imagination — a romantic world of art, beauty, history, cordiality, charm and grown-ups.
Wonder, awe, excitement — I felt it all as we proceeded to our room on the pet-friendly first floor. Bear in mind, old buildings have quirks, as any interesting personality is bound to, and rooms are not at all cookie-cutter repeats. I’m not even sure it would be possible to duplicate our tiny room, with its odd angles, extra corners, doors backing into each other, and so on. But sweet, sparkling, and welcoming it was, with a cozy fire already lit in the grate. It was the perfect size for us when we had a 20 pound dog, but a bit of a tight squeeze with our slightly-under 50-pound Oonagh.
Fortunately, the innkeepers encourage guests to wander and explore the floors and halls, lingering in endless gathering spaces filled with comfortable seating, art, antiques, books, games, pianos, ghosts, and more. With plenty of space beyond the walls of our room, there was no need to feel confined, nor did we have any desire to stay put. We’d landed in the world of Nutcracker Suite, and to not give it the attention it deserved would have been most rude.
While we’d been disappointed that the Lion’s Den, the dim, cavern-like speakeasy-style bar with oodles of taps, was closed for renovation, the tiny Tavern bar, around the corner and down the hall, within perfect stumbling distance from our room, did not disappoint. Half-dozen seats, limited, but exceptional libations, Ryan, bartender extraordinaire, prodigal son of the Berkshires, king of The Manhattans that are beyond the Big Apple delicious, it was all just perfect as it was. And that was just day one. Day two was just as glorious, with strolls around the small town of Norman Rockwell fame, before another evening settling in at the Inn. By the time checkout came, the following day, we were prepared to book a longer stay in January, this time in a suite. However, there are no pet-friendly suites, but the gracious and kind Front Desk Manager Miranda showed us one of her favorite rooms, which we promptly booked and plan to adopt as “ours.”
Sigh, if I could live in a room at an inn as “Eloise” does, it would be the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. I wouldn’t even mind if my room was haunted. I’d be sure to let the spirit know I’m a friendly mortal.
Postcard Series VII releases on Sunday. Upon reflection, I found the last series a bit so-so with too many swimsuit images, so this one will be more in keeping with what I have in mind for the collection. If you’re interested and not vetted yet, it’s a good time to do so. The releases are always limited to 10 patrons and/or 10 days. Also, while I welcome feedback, please keep in mind that approval can be revoked at any time if I cease to feel comfortable with you. Thanks for understanding and thank you for supporting this avocation. As always, a bonus is included for regular patrons with your fourth purchase and subsequent purchases afterwards.
The longer I get in the tooth, the more I realize I don’t want to be a “coulda woulda shoulda.” I’ve always believed in “better late than never” though, so trying to to figure out what that looks like for me. Much as it sounds admirable to live and have lived a life with no regrets, I am not sure how many of those folks really exist, I do know that I am not among them. There’s many things I don’t regret, and a few that — eh, if I’m being honest, I do — but as long as I still have breath I want to consider one of my “coulda would shouldas” that can become my “better late than never.” How about you, can one of your “coulda woulda shouldas” become your “better late than never”?
Nothing like starting fresh with a new month in a new week and on a Monday no less. Today’s All Saint’s Day, tomorrow’s All Souls Day and once again I am reminded of how Christianity co-opted so many wonderful pagan holidays, so it can take some digging to learn more about the roots of these celebrations. It’s lovely to celebrate them regardless, yet I do appreciate being mindful of the different origins of holiday celebrations around the world. A couple of guides whose work I have found insightful on this topic are @jenncampus_author and @teachingwithcorazon Happy November! May it be all you hope it to be.
I have another Postcard series due to release this week, a couple swimsuit photos (this swimsuit shown here) and one “naked as a J-bird.” One thing leads to another and I wondered where that expression came from. I mean “naked as a jay bird?” Are they really naked? So, as I am wont to do, I googled it, whereas once upon a time I would have gone to the reference section at the library. J-bird is short for jailbird, a term from the 1920’s and 30’s in America. When the imprisoned people were brought in from the bus, and given their kit, they were made to walk naked from one end of the prison to another, and this became known as “naked as a j-bird — or jaybird.” It wasn’t unique to America though actually, because the British especially loved to humiliate Irish prisoners in a similar fashion. It’s interesting the meaning we’ll find behind seemingly harmless and “innocent” expressions when we dig deep enough. All this just to announce my next postcard series, but what can I say? Learn something new every day and when I do, I like to share it.
October is a month loaded with birthdays in our family — fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, boyfriends, aunts, uncles — today is my dad’s 85th, so despite the pouring rain, we went off to breakfast first thing this morning, and one thing I learned the hard way is never reveal that it’s my dad’s birthday when you are out to eat. That was a lesson learned a few years ago, and I will NEVER make that mistake again. For some reason, regardless of how old we are, why do we still feel like kids with our parents? Can we ever be anything else?
Tuesday afternoon was cozy thunderstorms and a good mystery recommended by my boss. It’s one of the bonuses of my job — working with fellow history and art geeks I can swap book and DVD recommendations with. Science and Math have their place, but the fact that they’ve essentially usurped the Humanities (at least here in the States) is indeed a sad loss. Poetry can be had via Math and Science but for me, that means a recipe (formula/equation), measuring ingredients (Math) and their combined chemistry (Science) baked into a delicious treat — to accompany that book I’m reading, naturally.
And snap, just like that, another season has flown by here in the Northern hemisphere and now we are falling into one of my favorite times of the year, Autumn — when the light shifts and shimmies, shivers and plays tricks with imagination, the veil thins, spirits revive, and for those of us tapped into it, personal mystical power reawakens from its sultry summer slumber. Mabon/Mea’n Fo’mhair arrives for 2021. Yes! It must be the Season of the Witch.