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Amherst, not so bad after all

So last time, I had us walking through Amherst, MA, feeling a little depressed because the town was quite a bit changed from our time there, and also because it felt like a deserted village.


But, now, I’m picking up that same day...and things don’t seem nearly so grim...


We went to our hotel -- which I won’t bother to describe because it was, well, just a hotel along the highway. Like any other. But it was clean, comfortable, and reasonably priced. It was near a grocery store, so we were able to walk across a parking lot and get our usual bread, cheese, and wine. Seems like it is our traditional first day meal whenever we travel. We have our loaf of bread, jug of wine...and a block of Dubliner. And I don’t know if Omar Khayyam would have approved of our addition to the list of always watching a BBC murder mystery after that (current favorites: DCI Banks, Van Der Volk, and Grace), but I’m guessing he wouldn’t mind, particularly.



About the pictures: Two things today, neither with anything to do with the story, but I like the look of them. First, a shot of Martha a restaurant in New Mexico. Love her in red!


After eating, we felt considerably better. We went to bed about 11:30 pm, and awoke refreshed the next morning. What now? we wondered. We decided to go to an old fashioned diner for breakfast. We’d seen one that was unfamiliar to us on the way in--Johnny’s Diner (https://www.johnnysroadside.com/). Excellent food and the ambiance was great. Like I say, it is a real old fashioned diner. I don’t know why we hadn’t seen it before. Certainly, it must have been there when we were going to school. Yet, somehow, it was new to us.


Ah, well, at least we know about it. We’ll be back.


We then went into Amherst. We had an excellent visit to a bookstore -- specifically, Amherst Books (https://www.amherstbooks.com/). We were glad to see that at least one of the major bookstores we used to visit on a regular basis still remained.


Then, we walked around a bit. We had an iced coffee at Share Coffee. We thought about doing more window shopping, but, frankly, it was still just too hot. The weather was sticky and oppressive, and so, eventually, we threw in the proverbial towel. We went back to the hotel and napped and rested and tried to get cool.


We got out again for a late lunch or early supper. This time we went to Bistro 63 (https://www.bistro63.com/) in Amherst. I think it was in the location of the old Delano’s. Nice place and we enjoyed the meal.


We got out on the street after that. It was still warm, but it wasn’t stifling. And we were glad to see that we weren’t as alone as we had been before. More people were on the streets. It seemed the town was waking up and getting ready for a new season.


The best thing about the day, oddly enough, was that we had a long conversation...partly at dinner, partly in the car, and partly back at the hotel. We talked about ourselves for a start. We both agree we were a little disappointed in our trip to Amherst. It had been too hot ...and worse, we felt ourselves no longer at home there. The town wasn’t ours any longer. And the fact that it was alien reminded us, too bluntly, of the fact that we aren’t twenty-somethings any more.


But, two things...first, we had learned something. We had learned that we need to be flexible. We need to say, yes, this isn’t the Amherst we knew. This isn’t the town of our past. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting and enjoyable. There is much to discover here. In a way, it is all new again. We can pretend that we are once more first-timers...first year graduate students (just a little more creaky than before), discovering a town...and whole worlds...that we’ve never seen before.


And, second, that town...Amherst...is coming back. It suffered a lot during Covid. But, now, the virus is beginning to ease up. Admittedly, it isn’t gone yet. As I write this (in October of 2022), it remains a real threat. People continue to die of it. There is always the grim possibility that it will mutate further and in more dangerous ways. And public health officials look on in terror as flu season grows nearer...perhaps converging with yet another spike in Covid as we go indoors and breathe recycled air.


But, even so...things are getting better. Classes have begun again at the Five Colleges. If we were there now...rather than in August...we would have seen a very different place. The air would have been crisp and cool. The trees would have been in all their Autumnal glory. The streets would have been crowded with young people. I know this, because I have just been on the Web visiting live cams located at various places across the community. And that is what I see.


So...the problem was that we went to the city a little too soon, and with (perhaps) a bit of the wrong impression. We thought we enjoy the physical presence of what was Past. But the Past does not await us. It slips away into infinity. Only the Now exists. Only the Future awaits us.


And, in a strange way, it was good for us to know that.


So, that day in August, when we went back to the hotel. We were more at peace than we had been. We hadn’t gotten exactly what we’d sought, but we were now prepared to come again, and this time find new things and new people.


Which is the basis of every adventure.


The next day, we would left for the coast. And, at last, things would brighten enormously.


More to come.



The second picture, meanwhile, is something new. It’s an image I generated with the Stable Diffusion program. The prompt included "Stately Crow on a flowering tree.” It’s interesting because I actually included it on a stock image site (you can do that now). No one has licensed it, but, maybe one of these days.



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If you like what I write or the videos I produce, and feel you could make a small contribution to support my efforts, please go here:



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~mjt



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Copyright©2023 Michael Jay Tucker


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