Tangled Up In Tanglewood



A few weeks back, Yduj and I spent a lovely weekend in the Berkshires.  I had forgotten how different the Berkshires are from the Hudson Valley, where my country house is.  Although I would describe both places as wooded and rural, the similarity pretty much ends there. The contrast between the two is like the difference between an uptown call girl and a street-walker working the docks.  It’s that stark.  For example, discussions in my area are apt to be about who has the best beef jerky in town; in the Berkshires it’s more likely to be about whether James Levine or Michael Tilson Thomas did a better job conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 at Tanglewood.  And, as further evidence of the differences in refinement,  wherever we went in the Berkshires, the grounds of all the houses looked as if they had all been cared for by the same obsessive/compulsive gardener. The environs near my house look mostly as if some lunatic has taken a pair of hedge clippers and made the rounds cutting  some of the long growth here and there.

We stayed at a refurbished 18th century farmhouse near Great Barrington which is now a B&B.  Actually, that’s not quite true; our room was not in the main house but one that had been carved out of a portion of the barn on the property.  It was nice enough with just one drawback: the bathroom was at the top of a set of stairs which were located at one end of our room.  This presented an exciting challenge to my middle of the night trip(s) to the bathroom.  There’s nothing like feeling for stairs in pitch black never knowing if each step might be your very last.  But on the bright side, during daylight each and every time that  I exited that bathroom, I’d pause on the top step, look down at Yduj, and belt out a show tune as if I was Ethel Merman. Occasionally–not always–but sometimes, I’d get a standing “O”.

The owners of the inn were a German couple, Kandy and Erhard.  For some reason, I kept calling Erhard, “Werner”.  I wonder why.  Werner Erhard appeared to be about fifty and had a heavier accent than Kandy who seemed about ten years younger.  Along with his accent, he had a stiff and formal manner which somehow or other made me hear his, “Would you like some blueberries in your pancakes?” as, “So…you have relatives living in Germany?”

 Kandy was a lot warmer and it wasn’t long before she and Yduj were this close to being third best friends with each other.  At one point , Kandy mentioned that she was from Munich.  I caught myself just as I was about to breezily mention that my ex-wife was born outside of Munich in a DP  (Displaced Persons) camp right after the end of World War II.  Almost as if I were implying, “Small world, isn’t it?”  I think there may be something wrong with me for even considering having that conversation.

As we were saying our goodbyes, hugs were exchanged all around…almost. The fact is that Yduj did the hugging for both of us.  I don’t warm that easily.  And then Yduj and I got in the car (a Volkswagen, by the way) to return home with me screaming, “Curtains up! Light the lights!  We’ve got nothing to …..”.


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