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» Sunday, October 18, 2015The Chill of History
I never do get a decent night's sleep anymore. My left leg hurts or I need to use the bathroom or I have a bad dream. But let me tell you, last night was a thousand percent better than the night before. It was so nice and cool in the room that even the inconsiderate goons checking out early didn't really bother me.
Breakfast was the same as yesterday, the weather the opposite. It was bright blue day with white clouds and chilly with a breeze with a frosty edge to it. As I might have said, we didn't bring our jackets. Instead I put a sweatshirt on with a flannel shirt for a jacket, and the little Nordic blue hat I bought from the Apple Annie show. I had my pashmina and James' wool scarf in the back of the van, and we have one pair of gloves between us.
Since it was going to be chilly, we decided to do an inside thing today. Accordingly, we headed west on the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) out to Springfield, where the Springfield Armory is. This site is the only National Historic Site in western Massachusetts, and was where the famous Springfield rifles that supplied US soldiers from post-colonial times through the Vietnam War were made. Most of the factory, which was constructed around a traditional New England green used as a parade ground, is now a college campus, but one of the buildings has been reserved for a museum for the armory.
As you walk in the first thing you see is a tower with a stairway along the perimeter. It goes up, and up and up, I don't know how high, and hung at center at the very top is a pulley all the way down to the entryway, showing how they used to hoist crates of firearms to the top!
The museum itself begins with an enlarged black and white photograph circa 1920s (1930s?) of the workers who made the factory hum, and a long hall which leads to the main floor. The main exhibit starts with a history of firearms themselves, beginning with a long "hand cannon" that was basically a tube on a long pole, from the fifteenth century, to matchlocks to flintlocks to percussion versions, and of course from smooth barrels to rifled barrels. Following that were exhibits of colonial, pioneer, and war weapons made at the Springfield site, the Harpers Ferry armory, by other manufacturers, and also foreign weapons. There was an exhibit of machine guns, an "organ" made of stacked Springfield rifles accompanied by a Longfellow anti-war poem called "The Armory at Springfield," a history of the armory itself from water power to electrical power, an assortment of machine tools that would make the firearms, a tribute to John Garand, creator of the M1 Garand rifles used by so many of our servicemen, and the last day of an exhibit about Hollywood films that have used actual items from the museum as models for the weapons they would use in a film, like the rifle that finally brings an end to the reign of Bruce the shark in Jaws, rubber handguns for Clint Eastwood, etc.
It was a nifty little exhibit, but the most entertaining thing that happened was, as we turned on the last street toward the Armory, wet precipitation started hitting the windshield.
Not rain, snow/sleet! It was a mixture of ice crystals and hard little white pellets, and quite visible when it squalled. We laughed about it, and these little squalls continued on and off all day. As we walked into the building, a man commented about the snow to us in a rich local accent. I bet he doesn't want a repeat of last year.
I thought we'd head up to the Yankee Candle Flagship Store for a triple treat: a walk about, lunch, and more gorgeous leaves. It was only a half hour's drive and we'd already had a lovely preview: the MassPike was lined with gorgeous trees celebrating the arrival of autumn...well, most of the trees. It is very strange; there is one type of tree that is not turning. I think it's the American oak. What leaves are "turning" are turning brown. In the meantime, the maples and the other trees are celebrating with color like it's Mardi Gras. We saw an orange tree today that was nearly flourescent. There were trees with leaves as brilliant as rubies and as starry as topazes, and yellows, chartreuses, pumpkin, melon shading to saffron, red edged with orange, deep maroons and pinky reds. What white birches are left crowd around what's left of the marshes, already bare and stark white outlines. Together they all met for a glorious bouquet of color.
Walking Yankee Candle was fun. They have a new scent, New England Maple, but only had jars. I couldn't carry that home on the plane. I didn't see any of the tealights. And we went in the "Bavarian village" at one edge of the store, which looks like a German Christkindlmarkt at night and is filled with every sort of Christmas decoration, from baubles to Jim Shore to smokers and pyramids.
Lunch was good, but not as outstanding as it should have been for the price we paid. We had a turkey dinner with all the trimmings: green beans (which I gave to James), butternut squash perfectly sweetened, mashed potatoes, real cranberries, and turkey and gravy with stuffing, with an opening salvo of clam chowder. The chowder was delicious, but I must confess that West Cobb Diner makes much better dressing!
And the trees, sadly, were a bit of a bust. I remember the ones in the parking lot being absolutely spectacular last time, but they were already past peak except for a few at the edge of the road.
Still, we'd had a nice time, and we made our way home thinking we could stop at Barnes & Noble for a bit--and then we ran into a mystery jam west of Sturbridge that didn't resolve itself for seven bloody miles. By the time we got to the final service plaza James had to take over driving for me because my eyes hurt so badly. Now that "breeze with an edge" was really cold! I wrapped on the pashmina as well.
When we finally got to the bookstore, it was five minutes to closing. Sigh. Wish we'd known that before we unloaded the power chair!
Anyway, we picked up some soup at Panera and came back to eat it in the room and watch Alaska: the Last Frontier.