For our second week of hiking, we drove from Wilmington, Vermont to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We were still celebrating our 47th Anniversary, but decided to change our “heading.” When you go through as much as we have, you’d understand why we have so much to celebrate! And we usually do big things in April.
In case you don’t know us, this blog was started to share the story about our marriage (4/11/1975), separated in August 1988, divorced (12/13/1989), reconciliation, and remarriage (8/19/1989). When we married, like all young couples, we had a dream of living happily ever. That dream was shattered 13 years later. Then a miracle happened. And we know for any divorced couple to be restored back to holy matrimony, it takes a miracle. You can read our story by starting here. There are links with chapter headings for 26 marriage blog posts. Once we became grandparents in 2013, we changed the blog site to write about our travel adventures. And here we are, in our second week of travel adventures in April 2022.
We are thanking God I can indeed still hike! In our younger days, until just a few years ago 😁, we went for long-distance hikes – for us, six + miles. So I am excited to know how much/or little, I can still hike! Anyway, here is a recap of our second week and what is ahead in this and the remaining posts about our time in northeastern Massachusetts:
The week of April 23 – 30, 2022
4/23/2022 Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary Trail (Hiked 3.2 miles)
4/24/2022 Shaker Village (walked 3.4 miles)
4/25/2022 Mahanna Cobble Bousquet Loop (Hiked 5.9 miles)
4/26/2022 Toured Ventfort Hall
4/27/2022 Shaker Mountain (Hiked 3.9 miles)
4/28/2022 Deerfield MA (toured the historic town, walked 2.4)
4/29/2022 Bradley Farm Interpretative Trail at Greylock Mountain (Hiked 2.4 miles – although we hoped for a 6+ mile hike)
4/30/2022 Drove to Winchester, Virginia (We celebrated our daughter’s birthday)
When we traveled full time in our motor home, we preferred to not drive more than 250 miles in one day for a variety of reasons. One of our main reasons was so we could still do something, such as a long walk, on our day of travel. Our drive from Wilmington to Pittsfield was perfect and reminded us of how we traveled in the past. By design, it was only a 45-mile trip to change mountain ranges! So it took over 80 minutes. Here is a slideshow of the drive as well as both the inside and outside of the Berkshire Mountain Lodge, where we stayed:
In our last blog post, we didn’t get any feedback from the “Relive” app which creates a short “movie.” That one was our drive through the Green Mountains, from Wilmington, Vermont to Hildene in Manchester, Vermont. I tracked our drive from Wilmington to Pittsfield. Relive then makes a video, which I’ve posted it below. Bill has enjoyed these because as the driver, he misses some of the scenery! I know I am enjoying watching Appalachian through-hikers using the app. It is amazing technology. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below:
Once we arrived and put everything away, we headed out to Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary Trail. It was just over three miles away, less than a 10-minute drive to get there. Perhaps we had been a bit too aggressive on our hikes in Vermont. We decided on our first day here, we start on a flatter trail. And this was the perfect trail for us, for the most part. There was one very swampy area that was challenging. I was unable to take any pictures because I was too busy balancing with my poles as I tiptoed over roots, branches, rocks, and whatever else to not get my feet and shoes soaking wet. We were successful. Phew! Here is a slide show that documents the beauty and you can see the potential for difficult areas to traverse:
Bill not only selected the condo, but he also figures out great places to visit. He uses both Trip Advisor as well as Pinterest. The Shaker Village was on his list. We previously toured and enjoyed the South Union Shaker Village (1807-1922) in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Quoting myself from that blog post: “One thing we like to do as we travel is to learn unusual history and to honor those whose lives are memorialized in museums, in parks, gardens, and even cemeteries.” The Shakers fall into all of these categories at the Hancock Shaker Village.
April 24, 2022 – Hancock Shaker Village, Massachusetts We didn’t learn any more about these particular farmers. Interesting as we learned in the South Union Shaker Village, they kept meticulous records and diaries. I am sure the information is there, just not readily available. We questioned the one docent we met in the cellar of the Brick Dwelling why they may have not only made a big donation, but in essence, turned their lives and the lives of their children over to a relatively new “religious” order. He surmised life was very hard then and this offered the help needed to survive. An interesting note, to be a Shaker, one must take a vow of celibacy as well as turn their children over to the “village” to be cared for. The children actually contributed with age-appropriate chores. Anyway, this village endured until the last remaining partials of ground were sold off by the few remaining members in 1959. From the website:
Hancock Shaker Village began in the late 1780s, when nearly 100 Believers consolidated a community on land donated by local farmers who had converted to the Shaker movement. By the 1830s, with a great many more conversions and additional land acquisitions, the Shaker community peaked in population with more than 300 Believers and more than 3,000 acres.
During the height of their growth, religious fervor, and influence, the Hancock Shakers erected communal dwelling houses, barns, workshops, and other buildings, and developed a large and successful farm. With the 1826 Round Stone Barn as the center of a thriving dairy industry, and with many acres cultivated in medicinal herbs, vegetables, fruits, and other crops, the Hancock Shakers enjoyed a simple, peaceful, and hard-working life, separated from the ways of “The World.” They named their utopian village The City of Peace, and organized the large community into six smaller communal groups known as Families for efficiency of work, worship, and administration.
The Shakers were proficient in a wide array of crafts, trades and industries, including woodworking and metalworking, basketry, spinning, weaving and broom making. They developed their own water-powered mills for grinding grain, sawing wood, and manufacturing textiles. The Shakers were highly regarded for their honesty and industriousness, and for the quality of their products, which became an important source of income.
Eventually, forces outside the community, including the industrial revolution and the shifting of America from a rural to an urban society, worked against their continued growth and stability. By the early 1900s, with dwindling converts, the Shaker population at Hancock declined to about 50 Believers, most of them Sisters and orphan girls who had been adopted by the community, and only a few adult Brethren.
Many outlying acres of land were sold off, and buildings were razed during the final decades of the Hancock community. In 1959, when the Shakers could no longer maintain their City of Peace, they sold the remaining property to a local group committed to preserving the Shaker heritage. The utopian village known as Hancock Shaker Village continues its life today as a history museum with 20 authentic buildings, a working farm and significant collections of Shaker furniture and artifacts.”
I enjoyed this village more than the one in Bowling Green, Kentucky because it felt more alive to me! The event for the month was the “History of Baby Animals” so there were many families with young children. This was definitely a place I would want to bring our (young) grandsons.
Bill preferred the other one because we were first shown an informational movie. There were only a handful of others there so it was more “peaceful.” Also, the few Docents working were able to answer all of our questions and provide us with lots of information. Bill also didn’t see any references here to the fact, we were told upfront at the other Village, the Shakers in essence became extinct because of their vows of celibacy. He also thought we were better informed there about their religious practices. Did you know they were called Shakers because in their worship of God, they “shook” in their fervor?
In preparing for this blog post, I found this YouTube video about the Hancock Shaker Village which actually shows the beauty and explains the more about the village:
A Registered National and Historic Landmark and such a beautiful “farm”
We enjoyed our time here as it was a beautiful day and we managed to get in enough miles. Although we did not go visit a physical church, we watched our home church service on-line before we came. Had we come earlier, we probably would have included a hike up Shaker Mountain, but we returned another day for that hike. Which was more challenging than we expected.
Here are a few more pictures of things I didn’t see or notice in the YouTube video:
Oh my, I almost forgot to show my favorite animal on the farm. I was just fascinated and wished I had taken a video. But at least I have this remnant:
Some final thoughts before we move to our next blog post. This farm is sustainable and there are many lessons to learn here about farming. One important lesson for farmers is how this farm used solar energy 200 years ago! And as technology advanced, this farm has become part of a Community Shared Solar Retail enterprise. I found interesting details from an article on this website “Village: Powered by the Sun for Over 200 Years:”
Throughout the Village there are many examples of ways in which the Shakers efficiently used what today we would call “green” or “sustainable” building and architectural features, and “renewable” or “alternative” energy.”
“Borrowed light” in the Brick Dwelling (1830)
Windows placed on interior south-facing walls bring sunlight further into building, reducing the need for artificial lighting (minimizing the use of candles, oil lamps, and electricity). In addition, interior windows ensure better ventilation. Also note the woodstove placement at the center of the room and the long stove pipe; both provide more efficient heating.
ca. 1930s Collection of Hancock Shaker Village #1986-1320
Passive solar gain in the Brick Poultry House (1878)
The large number of south-facing windows provided heat and light in winter, keeping the Shakers’ chickens healthy, and increasing egg production. The amount of passive solar energy gained from these windows during the winter heating season is equivalent to 6 barrels (252 gallons) of oil.
ca. 1915-1920 Collection of Hancock Shaker Village #1995-5821, album p. 12
What is even better, the Solar Retail Enterprise provides another source of income to preserve this farm, museum and educational entities. Visit this article and website for more details, Hancock Shaker Village Getting Greener.
This makes me want to move to a Solar Farm! What a great way to provide electricity for personal use while providing electricity for near by homes/communities. Now to figure out how to grow our own gardens and care for the chickens, eggs and protect them from wildlife. I’m not sure about the pig, though. Something about him that just didn’t sit right….Oh well, back to my dream!
Up next a few hikes and a tour of a mansion. More history to learn.
God made two big lights, the larger to take charge of Day, The smaller to be in charge of Night; and he made the stars. God placed them in the heavenly sky to light up Earth And oversee Day and Night, to separate light and dark. God saw that it was good. It was evening, it was morning— Day Four.”
Genesis 1:16-19 MSG