Monday, September 05, 2016

Eastern USA Road Trip 2016, Day 7: Northampton MA and Labor Day in a Blue State.

Don't ask me why my subconscious elected to disgorge this number on Labor Day. 

It took a while to sink in, and when it did, Northampton boggled the mind, this city in Massachusetts that seemingly wears "leftist" on its sleeve -- owns it, admits to it, and probably has Democrats who really are Democrats, without the "Dixie" and "Disney" qualifiers so prevalent in my own antebellum milieu.

Photo credit.

Northampton is known as an academic, artistic, musical, and countercultural hub. It features a large politically liberal community along with numerous alternative health and intellectual organizations. Based on U.S. Census demographics, election returns, and other criteria, the website Epodunk rates Northampton as the most politically liberal medium-size city (population 25,000–99,000) in the United States. The city has a high proportion of residents who identify as gay and lesbian a high number of same-sex households, and is a popular destination for the LGBTQ community.

Concurrently, Northampton's Smith College bills itself as "Individual, Global Exceptional," although not necessarily implying Maoist, as alumnae like Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan might attest, though Gloria Steinem graduated from there, too.

As did Julia Child, and by virtue of free association, the food at the venerable Northampton Brewery was excellent, as were the beers. In fact, any brewery selling t-shirts adorned with the 1960s "peace" sign is okay by me, even if I promptly spilled chowder on mine. More about the brewery here:


Northampton is very near South Hadley, headquarters for our Massachusetts stay. Jen and Ben both thought it would be a good place to have lunch and stroll on a sunny, humid Labor Day Monday, and they were absolutely right. Once again little Ruby was packed into car and we made the short drive.

Following lunch, a walk brought us to Smith College's botanic garden.

The Botanic Garden of Smith College was founded over one hundred years ago by L. Clarke Seelye, the College's first president, who expressed his hope that the whole campus could be developed as a botanic garden so that it might be of scientific as well as aesthetic value. The landscape architecture firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, of Central Park fame, was enlisted to create that plan.

Eventually we grabbed a sidewalk table at a pizza joint and had a drink. Ruby maintained admirable composure throughout, and this photo is my favorite of the trip.

That evening, we were back at the Yarde Tavern in South Hadley. Jen was going back to work, and the following day would be Ruby's first in daycare. We planned to hit the road early, with along drive the Frederick, Maryland on the itinerary.

I miss New England already. Something tells me that as Ruby grows up, we'll be going back there often.

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