We have to jump when an opportunity presents itself and get out and enjoy life!
“We’re going to the Bridge of Flowers,” announces my friend, Nan McCarthy, in a morning phone call. “Do you want to go?”
Heck, yes! Nan has talked about it before and I know I would love it.
Sunday adventures are iffy for me because I am often finishing the week’s newspaper editing. Nan and her sister, Clare, do a lot of weekend adventures, and this one also includes another friend, Deb Kardaseski (Deb K). I’m excited to be included and rush to finish my work and I’m on the road by 9 a.m.
It’s a gorgeous, sunny day and much welcome from the below-average start to June. The temperature is cooler than I expect at 61 degrees, but for me, perfect. I arrive at the Hillsborough Park & Ride before the others and have a few minutes to relax. This is a perfect opportunity to do some breathing exercises and rest from the stressful week.
Attention is soon taken by the cloud formation against the bright blue sky. Ghost dancers immediately come to my mind; a long line of many ghost dancers dancing their way across the sky in perfect synchronization as if they’ve rehearsed this many times. I get out of the car with the camera to take pictures. I also write poems. Nan takes photos, too, when they arrive, although by then, the dancers had moved high in the sky.
We pile into my car storing bags and cameras in the far back and we head towards Keene along Route 9. I’ve only traveled this route a few times; the last was going and returning from my trip down south earlier this year. Now everything is lush and green showing a totally different landscape. Conversation is good. The four of us have much in common.
The Bridge of Flowers is in Shelburne Falls, Mass. Rtes. 9 and 10 merge before intersecting with Rte. 101. We discuss taking Rte. 9 to I-91 in Brattleboro, Vt. Nan and Clare had been to the Bridge of Flowers before, but Deb and I have not. We decide to take the “pretty way” and Nan directs me to turn left and a short distance later, a right to take Rte. 10S. The highway follows along the Ashuelot River. We pass through Swanzey, Westport Village, Winchester, and cross the Massachusetts border into Northfield where Rte. 10 turns west and soon we pick up I-91S in Bernardston, Mass. Deb K. sees a sign for Kringle Candle Company and asks if we could stop on the way back.
“I’m the driver and will go wherever you-all say,” I tell them. “I’m not making any decisions.”
We stay on I-91S to Exit 26 in Greenfield and onto Rte. 2. Clare directs me around the traffic circle-roundabout announcing that now they are called “calming devices.” Calming devices? I find roundabouts horribly stressful because it’s not easy for me to turn my head far enough to see oncoming traffic. This circle is even more confusing because it’s two lanes. Do I need to be in the right or left?
Clare says to take the Rte. 2E exit because there is a visitors’ center with restroom facilities. We make our pit stop, pick up some brochures, and chat with the attendant. Back on the road, we go back around the roundabout. They are chatting about other traffic calming devices and how some are so small fire apparatus are unable to maneuver around them. Clare mentions winter cleanup and I add that when I returned from my trip, the road crew was having a difficult time clearing snow in a busy traffic area.
We stop at a set of lights and I look to the right at a Friendly’s set on a small hill. Oh, my, gosh, this is where I stopped for breakfast on my way home from my trip! The roundabout we just went around was the one I had just talked about. Wow, small world. We continue on Rte. 2 heading west.
A Little History of the Mohawk Trail
Route 2 in western Massachusetts is also known as the Mohawk Trail because it was once a major trade route connecting the tribes along the Atlantic and those in upstate New York. Research varies with some writings showing it from Orange, Mass., to Williamstown, Mass., and it being 63 miles. Other reading has it from Millers Falls to Williamstown and only 53 miles. The route not only follows along and crosses the Millers and Deerfield rivers, it also crisscrosses the Connecticut, Green, and Hoosic and crosses the Hoosac Range. The Hoosac Range is part of the Berkshires, the southern end of Vermont’s Green Mountains, and part of the Appalachian chain.
Route 2/Mohawk Trail was officially opened in 1914 as America’s first scenic highway. Today it is rich with art, amazing scenery, history, entertainment, and many tourist attractions.
A left is taken off Route 2 onto S. Maple Street in Shelburne Falls, then another left onto Bridge Street. We pass through the little town. What joy to see the to the buildings open with various businesses when so many other small towns have fallen into disrepair.
“Keep straight across the bridge,” Clare says. I’m doubtful because the iron bridge is narrow and traffic is coming towards us. “It’s wide enough,” Clare adds. She’s right and this takes us from the Shelburne Falls side to the Buckland side. We turn right and find a place to park, get cameras from the back of the car, I also pull out my walking stick, and we head down the sidewalk.
A Little Bridge of Flowers History
The 400-foot concrete, arched bridge was built for a trolley in 1908 to help deliver goods and passengers across the Deerfield River. The nearby iron bridge (the one we just drove across) wasn’t deemed strong enough for heavy cargo needed for the mills along Route 112. When the automobile industry took off the railway company was unable to stay in business once freight was moved by vehicles. The company went bankrupt in 1927.
The unused bridge became overgrown with weeds and in 1928 Antoinette Burnham had the idea of making the old trolley bridge beautiful. Volunteers in 1929 brought in 80 loads of loam and fertilizers to line the bridge and other organizations aided in funding. Repairs were needed in the 1980s and money was raised to fund the project along with over hundreds individuals, businesses and organizations contributing. Plants, trees, and shrubs were removed and cared for in private gardens until the renovations were complete.
Today, thousands of visitors stroll the bridge to view the over 500 varieties of annuals and perennials during the summer months.
Nan, Clare, Deb, and I take our time on the bridge. There are many people present and it’s impossible to get photos of the bridge-walkway without people. After all, it is a Sunday and a beautiful day. We stop to take photos of individual flowers as we meander the length and back. There are so many and they are so beautiful. The views from the bridge are amazing, too. We cross the street to have lunch at the deli and ice cream at a place next door. We couldn’t have asked for a better day!
We head towards home. First, though, we visit the Kringle Candle Company. I used to love candles, but when my mother went on oxygen full time, I could no longer have open flames in the house. My interest dwindled and even after her passing, I did not get back into candles. So, I stop here with my friends to let them look around.
I’m a quick shopper; more so as I have no intention of purchasing anything… especially a candle. I usually find scented candles to be cloyingly perfume-y and they soon give me a headache. I move to the next room taking a brief look at things. I’m surprised to find this section seems to be more geared towards men. There is even a TV with comfortable chairs and the candles here have more manly scents.
Farther along, the products are more geared for the kitchen. Sometimes I stop to take a whiff. I like that the scents are subtle and do not have the chemical-smell of other candle places. Periodically, I wait for the others to catch up and we comment on one product or another. What I also like about this place is that it is huge and spacious. It’s comfortable moving around from display to display. I don’t feel I’m blocking anyone’s way nor am I afraid I’ll bump into a table.
Then I reach the next to the last room. This large room has rows and rows and jars and jars full of day candles. Day candles are a little bigger than a tea light and the staff-lady says they will burn for 12 hours. There has to be hundreds of fragrances. Most are just OK, even sunflowers, which is a perfume I enjoy and not a fragrance I’d care for in a candle. Mango isn’t too bad. There are a few that I find terrible. Clare likes the ones with a coffee aroma, which she says is funny because she doesn’t like coffee. I like those, too, but not enough to buy.
My favorites turn out to be the herbal essences: thyme, basil, bay leaves, oregano, and rosemary. However, when I find citrus-sage, I am hooked. I grab one of the see-through containers and begin filling my box. The candles are $3 each, but buying 10 gets you $5 off. All my choices are green whereas the others have various colors in their boxes. Deb K. spends $100 which allows her a free decanter and four mugs with covers.
The purchase of these candles brings a joy to my heart and I don’t know why.
About Kringle Candle Company
Kringle is not far from the Yankee Candle Company. As a matter of fact, the man who started Yankee Candle, Mike Kittredge II, had sold Yankee Candle and was retired when his son, Michael James Kittredge III, developed an interest in candle making business. They started the new company in 2009 just before Christmas. Their goal is to create realistic fragrances.
Their candles are mostly derived from natural substances. They even have a line of fragrant white candles. The lack of dyes in the white candles appeals to many. Most of the candles are in containers that are microwaveable and dishwasher safe so the glassware can be recycled once the candle is used.
The back of the car is loaded with our purchases. It feels good; we feel good and decide to stay on Rte. 5 instead of getting on the interstate. I enjoy the farms and countryside and this gives the opportunity to drive through downtown Brattleboro, Vt., which I hadn’t done before. Soon we are on Rte. 9 and crossing the Connecticut River into New Hampshire.
I drop Nan, Clare, and Deb K. off at the park and ride and head home to Bradford arriving about 5:30 p.m. The temperature is 72 degrees and I’d driven 190.2 miles. I’m aching by this time and can’t wait to sit down and relax. Pele is so happy to see me. She immediately settles in my lap.
This was a great day – perfect weather, good friends and an awesome adventure! What more could you ask for?