Lake Mahkeenac, aka Stockbridge Bowl, lies down a long slope of woods from the Kripalu Institute, aka the site of the fabled Shadowbrook, the 100 room Stokes mansion completed here in Lenox in 1893. On the Lake, the Mahkeenac Boat Club is basically unchanged since that earlier era and reached only via a discreet driveway and a walk through pine-fragranced woods. The little sailboats have names like Moth, Hermes and Sprite.
Another relic of the Gilded Age offered me a podium and a slide projector this afternoon for what they call a talk and tea. Ventfort Hall, ever more shored up and scrubbed, held a crowd with a very serious interest in the Stokes clan and whatever local associations with the Minturn family could be dug up. There were even some Stokes descendants who could proudly say Well, when great grandfather built that house…
There were cucumber sandwiches out on the sweeping veranda. I was glad we had decided not to invite Oliver on this jaunt. He detests cucumber.
I ended the evening at the ice cream parlor with an experience that would have caused the Victorians to keel over. Chocolate ice cream with a kick of cayenne, causing my tongue to melt just a bit as I gobbled it down. Hot and icy, sweet and savory at once, that’s a prescription for poetry.
Tomorrow, toes in the Stockbridge Bowl– then another bowl of some surprising ice cream. Lavendar and honey? Parfumiers would approve.