In my mind, the mountains in this county always belong to the writers. There is a mountain at the upper end of Berkshire county called Mount Greylock, and that one is Melville’s. “…nothing less than Greylock, with all his hills about him, like Charlemagne among his peers“. From where he sat at his desk in Pittsfield, the mountain looks like a whale, and whether it was a king or a whale to him I think changed depending on his mood. (And yes, Joey and I toured his house and we were not only the most enthusiastic visitors in the group, but the youngest by 50 years!) Monument Mountain, one of the hills down on my end of the county, belongs to Hawthorne and Melville and the friendship that grew under a rocky ledge at the top. The wild slopes of far upper North Berkshire County belong to Edith Wharton, not because she lived there, as her house was in Lenox, but because my favorite book of hers, Summer, seems to hover up there in forgotten Adams. So much has changed since then; now the world is an entirely different place, but I like to think the mountains have stayed the same.
One night at the end of the summer, we headed up Mount Greylock with our friends Ben and Emily. Emily is one of my only friends who, like me, is actually from the Berkshires–most everyone else is transplanted from somewhere or other (although aren’t we all in some way), but none of us had ever had dinner up at Bascom Lodge.
Mount Greylock is the only mountain here high enough to make you feel that sensation of leaving the ground and shifting into a whole separate place. It reminds me of drives up to the Ski Basin in Santa Fe when we’d go to take in the yellow aspens, and the car would chug and our ears would pop and it would feel like we were really going somewhere. Bascom Lodge is at the very top of Mount Greylock, and it sits next to an observatory with a spine of a spiral staircase. Before dinner, the wind whipped us and we climbed the stairs to get out of the weather. From the top of the observatory, we could see where the rain fell all over the county. It looked like someone was conducting the clouds.
This is how dinner works at Bascom Lodge. There is only one seating. It is in the little wooded dining room at 7, and there is only one choice for meat eaters, and one for vegetarians. Wednesday through Sunday, there’s a cocktail hour as the sun sets, too. Reservations are required for dinner, and it costs $28 per person. On our night, there was a salad that involved a scallop, a dinner that made a nice plate out of cod, and dessert (lemon cake, I think?) served with coffee that you pour yourself into fiesta ware mugs set out on the side table. The food was good in that it fed us and did it fairly well. The rumor is that no distribution trucks will make the climb up Greylock, so the staff bring ingredients up to work with them. That is how dinner works. But although the food fueled us through the night, it was the mountain that brought us there.
I’ve been thinking about all of your responses my love post that talk about places. I am the kind of person who gets restless–I move furniture, I change houses, or I change jobs. But I think that like any good lover, a place can continue to surprise you. It can hold hidden pockets and secrets that keep it new, and just when you get settled or bored, there is a new road to discover, or an apple orchard at which you’ve never stopped to pick. (I’ve learned this from Joey, too, who always insists on taking new back roads that seem, maybe, to have the possibility of taking us where we think they will.) I’ve been in my house now for 8 years this month, by far the longest I’ve ever been under one roof. I’m thankful to this county for continuing to surprise me.
Bascom Lodge is only open through October 21. You can have breakfast or lunch there, or you can stay in one of their rooms for the night and sit by the big fireplace in the front hall with a book. And although my photos show the green leaves of August, now, I’m sure, the view is red and orange in that fall quilt the Berkshires always seems to sew together overnight with a new pattern and color every year. That one is my favorite surprise–I’m not sure it could ever get old for me.