Travel Journal: Emily Dickinson’s Home Sweet Home

On the main street in the town of Amherst in the western Massachusetts, there’s a house painted in ocher ( deep yellow to somewhat light brown) with a lovely big yard. The house with number 280 known as the Homestead, was Emily Dickinson’s home sweet home. Emily spent her adult life here writing poem upon poem  and between 1858 – 1865 were her productive years. She is my favorite female poet and who inspired me plenty through her works. The Dickinson family has been an important member of Amherst community for a long time. Emily’s paternal grandfather, Samuel Fowler Dickinson, had an advanced way of thinking regarding the education equality for men and women during that era. He was among the founder of Amherst College that was opened in 1821. Emily was born on December 10, 1830, at the Homestead. She had an older brother, Austin, and younger sister, Lavinia.

The Homestead was one of the main interest I wanted to visit in Amherst. I had that chance when I accompanied my daughter who had her first campus orientation as a freshman at UMass Amherst. It was my solo adventure and I loved it. The weather was perfect with blue sky and abundant sunshines. The visitors who visit Emily Dickinson’s Homestead have to come from the part of the house that used to be a kitchen. The old stove and chimney are still visible there. In the room that also function as the gift shop were poem books, books about Amherst history and its famous people, some postcards etc. In the room next to it was where they displayed several things used to belong to Austin Dickinson and his wife, Lavinia Dickinson and their close family friends. I looked around at the things being displayed while we waited for our tour to start.

Our tour guide was a pretty young lady who was an English major student at Amherst College. Her specialty was Emily Dickinson’s poems and her life. The visitors weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the home, so as we were guided from room to room, I tried to remember the lay-out of the rooms and their senses. The first room we entered was the spacious parlor. There were paintings of the Dickinson’s children when they were younger, a beautiful fireplace and some furnitures. Then we were lead to Edward Dickinson’s study which had a more subdued and serious ambiance than the parlor that was painted in a cheery yellow. The study had tall book shelves with some books shown relating to Edward’s profession who was a prominent lawyer in Amherst. After that, we went up to the 2nd floor where the bedrooms are located.

Emily Dickinson’s bedroom was neat and immaculate. It was after 10 AM when we entered her room and the sun was shining through the windows making the room lighted up with such energy. I could imagine Emily sat on her writing desk and wrote the letters she sent to her sister in law and closest friends. Her many poems must have written in that room too. The house surrounding was an ideal place for a poet like Emily with its wonderful yard with small garden and so many trees, it was a marvel to enjoy. However, I wouldn’t sure if what I saw during my visit to the Homestead was what Emily saw, for the big trees standing now must have been young ones back then and not as big and grand. But I saw several robins like the one she mentioned on her poem:

The robin is the one

That interrupts the morn

With hurried, few, express reports

When March is scarcely on

After the Homestead, we visited the Evergreens which was the home of Austin and Susan Dickinson. Emily’s brother, sister in law and their three children lived just next door reflected the closeness of the Dickinson’s. The house exuded high class and the family’s important status in Amherst. Inside, there were beautiful paintings and other artworks, a grand piano, and many things that showed how preserved and intact the Evergreens is. After I finished my visit to the Homestead, I walked several blocks away to pay respect to Emily and her family. Their graves located close to Amherst Center or the downtown area. Emily’s family used to live in another house on Pleasant Street which located next to the graveyard. Little Emily has witnessed so many funerals because of it that impacted her in her works. When I visited the graveyard, it was very quiet and peaceful, even though less than 1/4 miles from it is Amherst’s main street that’s always busy. People left souvenirs on Emily’s headstone to honor her. A lot of them were pens to memorialize her as a poet whose words are still loved and enjoy until today.

The Homestead
The Homestead
The yard of the Homestead
Emily Dickinson’s Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts
The Homestead yard and garden
People left souvenirs on Emily Dickinson’s headstone.
Emily Dickinson’s headstone
The Evergreens
The gate to the Evergreens.
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Snaps from A Road Trip: Northampton

    I get to know Northampton, a small city in western Massachusetts, as my daughter started her college last year. She goes to University of Massachusetts (UMass) in Amherst, a neighboring city of Northampton and we always pass by Northampton before reaching Amherst by car or train. My first encounter of Noho, the city’s nickname, was an eye-opening. The city is so charming with rows of 19th century buildings along its main streets. The downtown area especially, oozes that charm. For someone who has never come here, let alone heard about Northampton, I was in awe and felt dumbfounded. Every time we come to Amherst either dropping-off or picking-up our daughter from her dorm , or me having a solo trip to attend UMass Symphony Orchestra concerts (our daughter plays violin with them), I’d make sure I’ll visit Northampton and strolling down its beautiful downtown area. My love for old buildings, history and architecture find its way in this city. Thomas Cole, my favorite landscape painter who established the Hudson River School, painted the Oxbow in 1836 depicting a romantic panorama of Connecticut River Valley after the thunderstorm as viewed from Mount Holyoke in Northampton. It showed how he loved Northampton and its environment. 

    The city was called “Norwottuck” or “Nonotuck” by the native inhabitants of the area which was the Pocumtuc. The name means “the midst of the river” and Northampton is situated by Connecticut River. Its splendid surrounding has attracted many, including the “Swedish Nightingale” – Jenny Lind, a famous opera singer, who thought Northampton as “Paradise of America”. That’s how this city’s other nickname is the Paradise City. Noho is known as the city with cultural, arts, educational and historical background where Christian revival, slave abolitionist, artists and people with eclectic lifestyle thrive. Clarke School for Hearings and Speech was established here in 1867 which was United State’s first oral school for the deaf. Alexander Graham Bell was one of their school leaders. Other educational establishment founded in Northampton is Smith College, a private liberal art college for women, founded in 1871. Their famous alumni are Julia Child, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan – both were US first ladies, and also American poet and writer, Sylvia Plath.  

Browsing Along Grand Central Market

I live about 2 hours away from New York City. To reach this metropolis, I can take the train and that’s the transportation that I mostly take every time I visit New York. Most trains going to or passing New York will arrive at Grand Central Terminal. This magnificent train station was once called Grand Central Depot which opened in October 1871 and went through several changes as New York needed bigger place to accommodate all the trains that were coming and going, also the people. The present Grand Central opened on February 2nd 1913. For a building with more than 100 years old history, Grand Central still looks astonishing. It is one among so many icons that make New York City a marvel city worth to visit. When visiting Grand Central, try to spend some time at Grand Central Market. The market, like any market, tries to offer the New Yorkers and tourists with everyday needs, such as food be it cooked or raw, flowers, baked goods, fruits, vegetables, kitchenware and housewares, etc. One thing that makes Grand Central Market one of a kind is it is a fancy-kind, rather posh sort of market. But you don’t want to miss the experience to browse along the stalls at this small market. You’ll be amazed by the freshness of the seafood, the colors and smells of the world’s spices and also the aroma from many variety of teas; not to mention the artisan chocolates and the baked goods that make you drool. The stalls are lining up neatly and classy that match with the New York middle and upper class life style. Even when you only browsing, there is something, if not a lot of things, to see at the market. Maybe you might want to try the baked goods or bring back home a box of chocolate. Some things are quite affordable and don’t forget to get a souvenir. Come and see Grand Central Market when you decide to visit Grand Central Terminal, especially when you can only visit New York once in a lifetime.

#newyorkjournal

#onedayinnewyork

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Snaps from A Road Trip: Eastham

Having a road trip means stopping occasionally when something interesting is seen. That also means turning around when the thing we saw was being passed quickly. During our trip to Cape Cod in Massachusetts, we passed by a windmill on U.S. Route 6 and I just had to see it closely. So we turned around and I wandered for a while. As I suspected, the windmill is a very old. In fact, it’s actually the oldest windmill on Cape Cod. It was built by Thomas Paine in 1680 in Plymouth. Plymouth was the first European Colony in America. The windmill then moved to Truro in 1770 by ferrying it on a log raft across Massachusetts Bay. It must have been quiet a task! The windmill then moved again on an ox cart to Eastham in 1793 and 1808 was set up on its recent location on the Village Green. The windmill worked to grind the grains into flour. The surrounding scene around the Green was typical of a New England small town, picturesque and calm. It was fortunate that the weather was amazing when we passed Eastham and I got to take several of the most wonderful images of the windmill. I wished we could stop by longer and had some picnic on the Green. It must’ve been wonderful!

 

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Snaps from A Road Trip: Sandwich & Plymouth

The towns of Sandwich and Plymouth in Massachusetts are among the oldest towns in United States. They situated in the area in Massachusetts which is a cape in the southeastern part of the state called Cape Cod. Cape Cod is famous for its beaches and quaint New England style towns. Town of Sandwich is the oldest town on Cape Cod being settled in 1637. While Plymouth was the first permanent settlement of the European who came to the New World (America) and became the Plymouth Colony. I visited these two towns in summer and although I didn’t explore much, I managed to visit several places and snapped some wonderful and interesting scenes on my cellphone. The SNAPS FROM A ROAD TRIP is the newest theme I want to develop on this blog that consists the pictures I took with my cellphone camera. Please, enjoy!

 

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Holiday Season, NYC Style

By the time Thanksgiving is over, New York City will be ready to display the festivity of holiday season. There will be more lights, wonderful window displays and amazing store decorations; seasonal events such as ice skating rinks at Bryant Park, Central Park or Rockefeller Center and my favorite is the winter market at Bryant Park. Of all the many wonderful things to see in New York City during holiday season, the window displays from the city’s top stores are the ones that are most breathtaking. Each store competes to show the astonishing display of themes on its windows. People will be wowed by the ranging of themes from Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s, Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman’s and many other upscale stores. They can be whimsical, full of fantasy, imaginative, depiction of stories that are popular like A Christmas Carol, Mother Goose, the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and so on. Those themes are truly work of art!

When you decide to visit New York City during holiday season, be prepared to encounter a lot of people, more than usual. There will be crowd almost everywhere! Wear sensible and comfortable shoes, bundle-up warmly, cause you’re going to take lots and lots of walk. Your main attractions will be mostly along Fifth Avenue. Saks Fifth Avenue has musical light show that covers its entire building. It is simply amazing! Young and old would gather across the store and waiting for the show to begin every 10 minutes. Across Saks Fifth Avenue is another attraction that has been showed on popular movies about Christmas, such as Home Alone: Lost in New York, which is the Rockefeller Christmas tree. The tree, the ice skating rink and the displays around the Rockefeller Center are another wonderful sights to see. You might also browsing the winter market at Bryant Park that has many local artists showing and selling their artworks. Not too mention, another ice skating rink, which is heated, and I think is more romantic than the one at Rockefeller. People can buy some hot cocoa or coffee and have varieties of munchies, sit on one of the park metal chairs and see people ice skating or just relaxing with loved ones. The market is also the best place to get presents for any occasion or souvenirs, if you’re a tourist. So, let me show you how New York City celebrates holiday season. You’ll be amazed for sure!

 

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Travel Journal: Harry Potter’s Library at Cornell University

My first thought when I entered this library was that this could be Harry Potter’s library, or Dumbledore’s for that matter. But it’s not. This marvelous library is Andrew Dickson White Library at Cornell University. But by the time you see the pictures I took and post here, you will agree this library could be Harry Potter’s library (minus the flying books). A.D. White Library is a library within a library, it’s located inside Uris Library. My family and I were visiting Cornell and my friend, Danny and his wife, took us to see several point of interests around campus. Uris Library opened in 1891 and among the oldest and beautiful libraries of American colleges. William Henry Miller was the architect who designed the building. It is a magnificent building with a clock tower attached to it that becomes Cornell’s symbol. The McGraw Tower is another point of interest at Cornell that plays chimes concert daily.

Andrew Dickson White's Library

Andrew Dickson White's Library

Andrew Dickson White's Library

Andrew Dickson White's Library

Andrew Dickson White was co-founder and Cornell University first president. When Harold D. Uris Library was established, White wanted to donate his personal collection of 30,000 books to Cornell. But instead of putting the books into the library’s collections, White wanted his books installed in a special library within Uris Library. He asked the architect, William Henry Miller, to design it. A.D. White Library opened as Uris Library opened. The library is also filled with White’s other collections of artworks, furniture and artifacts that he got from Europe when he was the U.S. Ambassador for Germany and Russia. There are paintings, plaster busts and several plaster casts of European coins and medallions that are placed in a glass case. Uris Library is open from Thursday to Sunday for 24 hoursĀ  for students who want to use the facility. Get that? Open for 24 hours.

Andrew Dickson White's Library

Andrew Dickson White's Library

Andrew Dickson White's Library

Andrew Dickson White's Library

Andrew Dickson White's Library

A. D. White Library is a small library. Its location is rather secluded. We climbed some steps and reached a big door. My friend opened it and we entered another realm. We were floored! We were amazed! My kids were very enthusiastic and in a hushed voice telling me,”This is like Harry Potter’s Library!” There are 3 tiers in the library that were made from wrought iron. These tiers themselves are a work of art. The sun rays that beamed into the room reflected upon the iron frames, fell on the chairs and leather sofa that are placed in front of the windows. The atmosphere was solemn, peaceful and simply just wonderful. It’s very accommodating for whoever needs a place to study. I think I could really enjoy studying there for as long as I want.

Andrew Dickson White Library

Andrew Dickson White Library

Andrew Dickson White's Library

Andrew Dickson White's Library

Andrew Dickson White's Library

Andrew Dickson White's Library