Paying Respects at Spider Gates…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

When I was a kid, “Spider Gates” (officially called the Friends Cemetery) in Leicester, Massachusetts was strictly off limits- both by parents everywhere and by the local authorities who would frequently bust trespassers or party-goers in the middle of the night.

Established in 1740, the Quaker cemetery- literally hidden in the middle of the woods (you need to hike a ways away from the only nearby road and through the forest to find it) has been the subject of urban legends, ghost stories, and paranormal fascination for years. The stories range anywhere from the somewhat believable (someone had hanged themselves from a tree within the cemetery during the 1800s) to the absolutely ludicrous (the gates actually serve as a passageway to Hell.)

The reality is that Spider Gates- while undoubtedly eerie for sure- is actually a pretty peaceful spot to visit and marvel at it’s pristine condition and practically ancient headstones. As part of my project to share some of the more unusual and spooky locations around where I grew up and am currently residing here on “Blondie Birdie”- I made a point to stop by yesterday afternoon and snap some photos.

I was the only one there at the time, which made the experience all the more surreal.

And no, I didn’t get possessed by any ghosts while I was there. Not that I know of, anyway. You can see some of my photos below. Simply click to enlarge!

“Spider Gates” is open to the public now during daylight hours only- but if you plan on visiting- just make sure you wear comfortable shoes and have some bug spray with you. Just in case!

I’ll have more roadside oddities and local creepy-ness to share a little later on this week- but with it being Monday and my being back at work bright and early this morning, I’ve got lots to get done!

Enjoy your day, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

Autumn Leaves and Arsenic…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! I’m so thrilled that we’ve made it to another weekend!

Having been born and raised in Massachusetts, and spending most of my time in and around New England- I’m no stranger to the curiosities and oddities that can be found pretty much anywhere if you’re keeping an eye open. We’re well-known globally for our bizarre, sometimes morbid history, unusual landmarks and creepy (and often rumored to be haunted) locations.

In October, I like to showcase some of those bizarre places/things as it seems fitting given the Halloween spirit. I figured for the 2019 season, I’d start with a notorious headstone in a small, Quaker cemetery about 45 minutes away from my apartment- and yesterday, after wrapping up a half day at work- I ventured out to find it in the little town of Pelham, Massachusetts while I was admiring the foliage!

Nobody is really sure what the mystery illness that claimed Warren Gibbs’ life in 1860 was (back when the common cold would pretty much seal your fate)– but his brother, William, suspected foul play and accused his sister-in-law- Mary- of poisoning Warren with arsenic-tainted oysters.

The result of this suspicion was a pretty brutal headstone William erected for his late brother that flat-out blames Mary for Warren’s death with a poem etched into the front. You may not be able to read it in the photos- but it says:

Died by Arsenic Poison

March 23, 1860 Age 36 years 5 mos 23 days

Think my friends when this you see

How my wife has dealt with me

She in some oysters did prepare

Some poison for my lot and share

Then of the same I did partake

And nature yielded to its fate

Before she my wife became

Mary Felton was her name

Erected by his brother Wm Gibbs

The next time you think you’re being petty about something- ask yourself- am I William Gibbs level of petty? Because if you’re not having murder accusations etched onto the deceased’s headstone- you are not petty at. all. This headstone was next level.

Next week, I’ll be putting another unusual, possibly creepy place in the “Blondie Birdie” spotlight. It’s one of my favorite October traditions!

But until then, I’ve got to get some work done at the office and then prepare for a fun and (hopefully) productive weekend. Here’s wishing you all a fun and safe couple of days ahead!

See everyone again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Notes From The Big E…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it!

As much as I would love nothing more than to just sleep through this entire weekend since I am absolutely wiped out from these past couple of days (not including work!)– there’s still plenty of things left on my September “To-Do” list IĀ  want to see through before this month begins winding down- and this coming weekend is the time to do it!

One thing I managed to scratch off my September/Fall Bucket List this past Wednesday was popping by The Big E for a late afternoon/evening filled with the unhealthiest (and delicious) fair foods, carnival rides and bizarre attractions. It’s pretty much a must-do for New Englanders- often a tradition for my friends and I- and I wanted to make sure I could enjoy it for a few hours while the weather was nice and the sun was shining!

Now that I live in the Valley, getting to The Big E takes no time at all- so I was able to park and walk in without having to sit in post-work-pre-dinner traffic for hours on end (another less favorable tradition…)

I had a lovely time squealing over cute farm animals, eating half my body weight in Friskie Fries (and fried Oreos!) and soaking up the sunset amid all the flashing lights and rickety rides while simultaneously wondering whether or not I needed any of the unusual gadgets and accessories vendors were pitching in the exhibit halls.

Naturally, I snapped some photos along the way…

Such a nice way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.

The Big E is up and running through September 29th if you want to check it out for yourself!

Next week on Blondie Birdie- I’ve got my annual Autumn playlist ready to go for those in need of a dreamy soundtrack, more photos from my early Fall adventures- and some of my favorite things from this past September (and believe me- there’s a lot!)

But until then- enjoy your weekend, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

Hitting The Trail…

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Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Last week, when I went to MASS MoCA for the very first time– Troy drove us there by way of Route 2 West- a scenic roadway that dips between mountains and alongside rivers. I had stated I spent most of the drive with my face essentially pressed against the window as I took it all in- and knew right away I wanted to come back to see/photograph some of the roadside attractions (my kryptonite!) along the Mohawk Trail.

The opportunity presented itself yesterday morning during a scheduled day off for me. The last of the furniture I had ordered for my place was arriving in the afternoon- giving me a solid block of a few hours in the sunny A.M. to go exploring before the delivery people arrived to set up. I grabbed my camera, my keys- and a coconut cold brew via Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters and hit the road.

Now, because it’s the Mohawk Trail- there’s no shortage of Native American-inspired gift shops and trading posts along the way advertising moccasins, pottery, jewelry, etc. None of them were open as I was stopping/passing by- and they were definitely a little tacky- but that’s the beauty of roadside attractions.

When I did eventually reach a decent area to park alongside a low-flowing river near a state park, I kicked off my shoes and headed on into the water for a super cold, super refreshing calf-high dip. While I was splashing around, I found what looked like two pieces of smoothed over quartz. I cleaned them off and brought them back with me- one for myself and one for Troy- who was the reason I even found out the river existed.

One of the more interesting finds was on my way back to Greenfield where I stopped at the Hail to the Sunrise Monument in Charlemont. Although the reflecting pool was empty, I still got to see the stones depicting various tribes and councils around the United States- and the statue of the Mohawk Native American was in pristine condition.

I was the only one there at the time, and snapped some great photos. You can click on any of the images below to enlarge them.

Although the rest of my day was uneventful- apart from running some errands and tidying up my place- I had such a lovely morning and I’m glad I had the opportunity to go on a mini adventure during the week.

I’m working from home today, and should probably finish breakfast and get comfortable before I launch into my e-mails, voicemails, etc. Here’s hoping you all have a good “Hump Day!” Gotta’ keep pushing through to the weekend!

See y’all on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

Rainy Days and Book Stores…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

When I had initially announced my impending move to the Pioneer Valley earlier this month, I had mentioned that I wanted to highlight some of my favorite places to pass the time out that way. For any of you who have followed this blog or it’s past incarnations- you probably know that I predominantly write about restaurants/bars/shops/attractions in the Boston area or around my hometown in Central Massachusetts.

Being out in Western Massachusetts, close to the Berkshires, and truly in one of the most beautiful, clean, environmentally conscious and artistic parts of New England opens the doors for me to discover and share so many new people, places and things will all of you- and I knew right away that an old favorite (but a goody!) would be first on my list to reacquaint myself with.

The Montague Book Mill, which is a used book store, art gallery and restaurant(s) within an old mill from the mid-1800s- is one of my favorite places to go, curl up by the window with a good read, sip a cup of tea and just relax/zone out for a couple of hours while I listen to the nearby Sawmill River flow past.

I’m never the only one with this idea, and the Mill have utilized a lot of their nooks and crannies by turning them into quiet, peaceful places for those looking to work/study without interruption and in a unique location.

I haven’t been in a few years- but made it a point to stop by on Monday during my day off while the rain was falling outside. As always, I ended up exploring and snapping some photos!

To see the enlarged version, just click the picture!

Before I left to head back home, I popped into The Lady Killigrew Cafe for an early dinner (their brie, apricot jam and marinated apples sandwich rules!) and a quick cup of coffee. How I’ve missed that place. I promised myself I wouldn’t wait another 2-3 years before I went back again- and now that I’ll be living less than 30 minutes away- it’s a promise I can keep!

I’ll be back in the area tonight after work to meet up with Troy for dinner and drinks- and will more than likely make another appearance over the weekend since I’m on the prowl for new furniture.

Until then, though- it’s all about getting things done at my office and getting some caffeine in me as soon as possible!

Enjoy your “Hump Day”, everyone! See you all again on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –