Monday, June 05, 2006

Greetings from Northampton!

(Mark, Gerry, Mike and Devin)

Mark and Val decided to make an unscheduled stop yesterday at Mike and Gerry's place in Northampton. Mike and Gerry are dear friends of Mark's who used to live in Denver, and once shared a house with Mark and Mica. Val got to meet them, and their insanely smart and handsome sons, Ryan and Devin, yesterday afternoon. We had hoped to have time to see Mike and Gerry during our time in New England, but things were so packed in we weren't sure it could happen. Fortunately, yesterday afternoon we realized we did have time, and should make more, so we left Sirius early and will go to Agape a day late.

We biked a glorious 17 miles from Sirius down to Amherst, across the Connecticut River, and over to Northampton, arriving around 6 last night, just as it started drizzling. The ride was extremely easy and fun. We basically coasted the first 5-8 miles, hardly peddaling at all as we came out of the hills into the river valley. As we passed through Amherst, we saw a Cultural Survival bazaar happening in town, presumably to raise money for Cultural Survival Quarterly which is based somewhere around here. Amherst is a very pretty, and we are guessing, VERY WEALTHY city.

After Amherst we jumped on this sweet railtrail, riding along enveloped in forest, catching glimpses of farmland between the trees now and again. The railtrail took us all the way to Northampton where we had a tiny bit of hairy city riding, before arriving at Mike and Gerry's to a splendid pasta dinner with very yummy wine (which Val at least enjoyed). We sat up talking and being treated to a dazzling singing performance by Ryan, aged 6, (already an impressive songwriter and stageman), as well as a financial and political breakdown of reality, courtesy of Devin, aged 8, that had me asking him if we could hire him as an executive director of a non-profit. Now.

(Mark, Devin, Ryan & Val)
The whole valley area around here is influenced politically, economically, and culturally by the plethora of small liberal arts colleges in the area: Smith, Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, and UMass Amherst, yet there is still affordable housing and a working class feel to much of the towns. This may change, however, as "NOHO" gets "developed," and folks moving in from New York with lots of moolah start raising property values and taxes.

Mike and Gerry are so inspiring to be with! They are doing great things for the planet. In addition to raising thoughtful, intelligent, healthy and happy sons (Devin can articulate quite clearly why George W. Bush should be impeached, thanks), Mike is an alternative energy specialist bringing sane building options to the Valley, and Gerry was just hired by the Mayor of Springfield to head up that city's initiative to bring real affordable housing to the city and work to end homelessness.

We spent last night sleeping in a beautiful room which Mike and Gerry added on to their house which is heated by passive solar, sun streaming in French doors and windows. They're completely renovating a lovely 1913 house. Val asked Gerry last night if one could marry a shower, as she had fallen in love with theirs. Gerry informed her that, alas, their shower was already married.

We're making dinner tonight, leaving Mark and me with the only really important question at this point: What do six- and eight-year-old boys eat? Both parents told us we'll fail in any effort to please them and should just not worry, but I feel this is a challenge worth rising to. Even if we do fail.

More about the Sirius community soon...


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