A very fine day in the Valley yesterday, one of those that used to get called "indian summer." (Though I'm sure that if I didn't enclose that in quotes, the lunatic-fringe PC warriors from Amherst would firebomb my house. PC folks are so tolerant; they believe you should be and do anything you want, as long as it's just like them.)
Over the river and through the woods, to the funky houses I went today. Folks around here love to 'spress themselves (to paraphrase the Isley Brothers), including and especially in their front yard. This is the upside of living in an alternative-style community: bike riding is like a treasure hunt or gallery walk.
As I climbed out of Northampton on North Farms Road, I caught sight of this familiar fence:
But then also noticed, for the first time, smaller sculptures on the rock wall in the front:
Further on up the road (I'm going to quit quoting songs sometime soon, here), I turned left onto Masterson Road in Whately, and visited a sculpture I've taken to calling the Strawberry Queen. She is all carved out of one tree, if you can believe it:
Would a quote from Strawberry Fields go amiss here? Or perhaps from Strawberry Alarm Clock?
The Queen looks as if she's paused, enraptured, in the middle of a royal strawberry gesture (notice the smaller berry in her hand, which she's maybe about to confer on a fruity knight); if you turn around, you can understand why she's eternally distracted:
You can also see how far above the tree-tops I've climbed. There was more to come, some absurdly steep ramps of, I would guess, about 17 percent grade. The rewards, however, become manifest at the top of Masterson -- a unque view of the Valley, all the way across the Connecticut River and into the Pelham hills, about 15 miles away. How 'bout those fall colors, folks?
The gorgeousity put me in a mood to ramble, so I poked around further uphill. Finally, at the tippy-top of Whately, I discovered a majestic old barn, lately renovated for some mysterious purpose, whether business or residential, who can say (the Strawberry Queen's castle?) but just look at the handsome results:
Riding is never more rewarding than it is at this time of year in Western Mass. If you're out this way, give a shout and we'll ramble together.