(song that Grace played while on our road trip)
The Norman Rockwell Museum is one and a half hours away from our house, the perfect distance for a little road trip with Grace.
Grace has been busy at school.
I was beginning to miss my daughter.
Getting in the car and driving away from it all was the perfect solution.
We hit a detour which turned out to be pleasant because it took us right past a wonderful apple place, all situated on someone’s private property with a big old white house with mossy steps, dark red barns and charming little out buildings. One building was a bakery and we each picked out a pastry and hot apple cider.
Another small building contained for-sale items like crafts and antiques.
There were apples, pumpkins and fall decorations. There was also an ice cream window and charming places to sit all over the place, with homemade benches by the trees.
Less than fifteen minutes from our house, we wouldn’t have made this discovery without the “inconvenience” of a detour.
After a stop at the outlets, where Grace bought a purple dress and this sweater, we headed on down to Stockbridge, MA for the museum and oh my, what a lovely day we had for it. An early fall day, the air was clear and warm and scented with the smells of late-season trees, grasses, flowers, and acorns. I drank in the breeze like fine medicine.
Studying Norman Rockwell’s paintings never fails to warm my heart. I just love the stories he told in his work, simple sweet stories that he observed from small town life. The paintings are set within his time period, but still hold the familiar messages and tug on the heart-strings.
We began our visit by watching an educational video, much to Grace’s alarm because it was rather too much like school. But I think she enjoyed it nonetheless. The video was narrated by Norman’s son, Peter, which we thought was special. It was shown in a room filled with all the covers NR painted for The Saturday Evening Post.
After the video, we slowly walked through the gallery, studying each painting and looking at some of the pieces under glass, like Rockwell’s paint sets.
Commonplaces never become tiresome. It is we who become tired when we cease to be curious and appreciative. Norman Rockwell
Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed. My fundamental purpose is to interpret the typical American. I am a story teller. Norman Rockwell
We walked down to his last art studio, which was moved from Rockwell’s private home through the streets of Stockbridge, to it’s place on the museum property.
We stood in a group of people, listening to a lady speak informatively and fascinating about Norman and the things in the studio. For instance, he was a workaholic. There was a green sofa in the studio that he took naps on when he finally got too tired to continue painting. There were scratch marks in the wood floor from him cutting his canvasses. He loved drinking Coca-Cola and would have served you some if you stopped by to say hello…….
We walked around the grounds together.
There was a small self-serve refreshment area with drinks and snacks for sale, so she got a lemonade.
An appropriate message for the day.
I enjoyed a small coffee.
…my favorite part of the day is so simple yet always a delight to my heart….this quiet girl who doesn’t talk much to me at home (perhaps because there is so much competition for my attention from 6 siblings) opens up and talks and talks in the car when we are alone. There is nothing in the world like it. Listening to the stories as we travel along, just the two of us. And by the time we headed home the words were all used up and she played us songs from youtube, played on my phone through the speakers in the car and we sang….”Stand by Me” “Under the Boardwalk” “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)” “The Wind beneath my Wings” “Count on Me” “Delilah” and so on…..
We left the museum and parked on the side of main street in Stockbridge to explore the town.
Our favorite place (you’ll never guess) was a little used book store/coffee shop. Grace never wanted to leave.
She quickly found a book and sat down to read while I browsed the titles.
“N A T U R E”
We left with tea in our hands and a bag of books.
The one I am reading now is almost impossible to put down. It’s a memoir entitled The Tender Bar, written by J.R. Moehringer.
A magical day, one I will not soon forget. We headed back toward home, stopping at Costco on the way, listening to Grace’s songs.
And all of us who turn our eyes away from what we have are missing life. Norman Rockwell