Sunday, October 23, 2016

Snow on Mt. Greylock

After our summer of drought we finally got a good soaking rain this last Friday and Saturday.  The prediction was for more rain today, but that changed overnight and this morning was clear blue sky.  Since I had gotten all of the 245 tulip and narcissus bulbs I had ordered planted before the rain, that meant today was a bonus day!  I decided to use it to climb Mt. Greylock (at 3491 feet, the highest point in Massachusetts), about an hour's drive from here.

As I approached it began to look ominous.  What was rain here had been snow up there!

Nevertheless, I struck out on the Thunderbolt trail to the summit.  Once I hit the snowy part, it was steep and slippery!  No way I'd make it down that trail! A group of volunteers was out doing trail work, so I asked one of them what would be the best route down, and he recommended the Gould Trail.

Laika was ahead of me all the way, but she
very kindly waited for me to catch up.
In the background is the Veterans War Memorial
 at the summit, built in 1932.

View from the summit.  Too windy to stay very long.

I reached the summit in 2 1/2 hours, only a little longer than book time. It was quite cold and windy at the top, and I had a spot of trouble finding the Gould Trail. Silly me, I had thought there would be loads of people at the top to point the way, but Bascom Lodge (another 1930's Civilian Conservation Corps project) was closed for the season (a day early, due to the snow). But there was one intrepid and kind lady who gave me her trail map (thank you!) so I did find my way down, and the trail came out just a few yards from where I had left my car!

Here are a couple of interesting sights near the bottom of the Gould Trail:

A pedestrian covered bridge

Hollow tree: opening is at least 10 feet tall.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The May/June Project is completed before September (just barely)!

The final step in the wall project was moving away all the extra rock.  At one point in the project we were not sure we had enough, but it turns out we had four pallets plus several trailer loads of rock which Terry and Kyle will put to good use on another project in Great Barrington.



This view from the street just after Terry and Kyle left for Great Barrington at the end of July shows catch basin number 2 in the left foreground.  Most of the bare soil has been reseeded, and erosion controls are in place. This is the first time in two years that there have not been a whole bunch of rocks around this tree.


 After Terry and Kyle left, Ricky came back and dug a trench across the driveway and installed a drain pipe for uphill water.  Once that was completed, we decided to postpone the final layer of material on the driveway until a time when there were no renters in the house, as the house would be inaccessible for a couple of days. 


That final surface was completed yesteray, and the very final step was compacting the stone with a roller. The driveway now has a nice crown which should divert water to the drainage ditches and pipes on either side.  


We have had very little rain this summer, and none is predicted for the next couple of weeks, either, so we'll have to wait to find out the results of all this effort.  The new grass seed has done surprisingly well, considering how little rain we've had.  Some places will need to be reseeded when the weather is a little cooler, but there has been enough growth in the places where it really mattered for erosion control. And here is how it looks this morning:



Monday, July 25, 2016

Walls and grading done!


The upper wall is completed, and today Terry and Kyle filled in between them with topsoil, and graded around them.  They are ready for planting: daylilies in between the two walls, and grass everywhere else.



The walls are centered on the house
 when you look from straight on.

Ricky has gotten involved in another job, but he'll return as soon as he can to finish up the driveway/drainage.  

What a Difference a Year Makes

June 2015
July 2016

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A few garden vignettes

Coral bells in June







More Progress, albeit slow...

Ricky has done as much as he can until Terry and Kyle finish the wall, when he can come back and put in one more drainage pipe on the uphill side of the driveway, then finish the driveway itself.

Got to get the elevations just right so the water
goes where it's supposed to

Most of Ricky's work ends up underground

Tying into the catchbasin in the road

View from the street

Back-filling the trench

Trenches covered up, grass starting to grow back
(rock-pile getting smaller)









We finally had a hard rain last night, and it looks like all the water went just where it was supposed to...no erosion of the driveway.

Meanwhile, work on the wall is continuing.

They work from the center out.

Lower wall in progress: stakes mark
 location of upper wall.

Lower wall nearing completion. Work on upper
wall should begin next week.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Progress on the wall

I am finally able to report that Ricky and Brandon have made quite a bit of progress on the driveway drainage project, and that Terry and Kyle have begun work on the retaining walls.

Hard to remember that snow was still on the ground
when Terry and Kyle came to lay out the location of the retaining walls

Ricky and Brandon did the site work and prepared
the base for the lower of the two planned retaining walls

This is where all the water is supposed to go
at the bottom of the driveway (as opposed to
washing the driveway into the street!)

Trench across the driveway: connecting one catch
basin to another

Catch basin number 1

Terry & Kyle arrive with their equipment.
 Lots of earth-movers now on site!

The first stone of the lower retaining wall

Placing the second stone

Of course, everything is still a mess in the front, but at least it is moving along. Will it take 2 weeks or 2 months to complete?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Nature, then Culture

Today is one of those days that reminds me why I moved to the Berkshires: a walk on the Appalachian Trail in the morning and a concert at Music Mountain in the afternoon!

This morning I took the trail from Rte 20 in Becket, crossed the Mass Pike, and rewarded Laika with a swim in Upper Goose Pond. I wanted to see if the mountain laurel was in bloom and I was not disappointed.
We're about to cross the pedestrian bridge
 over the Massachusetts Turnpike

Mountain Laurel blooming along the Appalachian Trail

Laika's reward:  a swim in Upper Goose Pond
I'm only sorry Laika is not much of a music aficionado and has to spend the afternoon at home instead of enjoying the Borromeo Quartet with me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The April/May Project becomes the May/June Project

The other day I was working in the garden when I was surprised to see these three guys walking up the driveway:

That's Terry, Kyle, and Ricky, who will be getting started at long last on the small (but surely it will be beautiful) retaining wall in front of the house (that's Kyle and Terry) and on a large (and mostly underground) drainage project that will prevent the driveway from washing away in a heavy rainstorm (that's Ricky).


Here's what the front looks like today, as Ricky and his son Brandon get started.





An ugly mess for the next month, then I can get serious about landscaping the front, and making it as beautiful as the back!


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Still Some Availablilty during Tanglewood Season

Now that the work is done on the house (but there will be more landscaping news this summer...stay tuned) and I have had a year and a half of happy renters, I hope to use this blog for advertising and booking rentals.  Please click over to the page "2016 Rental Rates & Information" if you are interested in staying here.

I have had good results listing the rental with HomeAway, VRBO, and FlipKey. However, HomeAway and VRBO have recently been purchased by Expedia and they have added a new "service fee" that renters now pay, in addition to the annual fee that I pay them to advertise on their sites.  I don't see that renters get any added value, so I have decided to cancel my subscription when it expires. 

All of July and most of August is booked, but there is still availability late August, and most of the foliage season. Feel free to look at the reviews on HomeAway and TripAdvisor if you're on the fence about staying here.  Click here https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p3721423  and here
https://www.tripadvisor.com/VacationRentalReview-g41636-d6923784-Historic_South_Lee_Schoolhouse_near_Stockbridge-Lee_Massachusetts.html

But don't book on these sites or you will pay an unnecessary fee. Contact me directly by going to my new website: http://southleeschoolhouse.weebly.com/