Weird and wonderful….

 

It wasn’t all pretty little butterflies at Magic Wings.

 

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There were also more than enough weirdos to keep a girl happy.

 

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Like this guy.

And more specifically, this one…..

 

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Oh, yes I did.

 

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And he really lived up to his name. When he’s walking up your arm? You can really feel the pricks.

 

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On his legs, people.

His legs.

Moving on with the weird….

Butterflies that look like dead leaves?

 

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Check.

A Columbian Tegu named Porkchop?

 

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Check.

There was even a weird and wonderful butterfly nursery.

 

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With a delightful Silence of the Lambs feel, no?

 

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The flora was as unique as the fauna.

 

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With some interesting exotic blooms.

 

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These looked rather Seussian.

 

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Truffula tree anyone?

But by far, one of the most beautiful creatures was this:

 

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Emerging from his (her?) cocoon.

 

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Is that fabulous, or is that fabulous?

 

 

Amen Steven.

 

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I honestly couldn’t stop staring at it.

 

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I mean… look at it!

But okay, it was 110 degrees in there… and the husband had been patiently melting into a puddle for the past few hours while I took the required 3,496 photographs, so we starting making our way to the door.

 

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Totally enamored with this little jewel of a tourist attraction.

 

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Magic Wings, Part Three.

 

It’s hard to relay how utterly wonderful this little place was. The photos are frozen, and the videos a pale representation.

 

 

It was like an oasis of rain forest….

 

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Plunked down in the middle of Deerfield, Massachusetts.

 

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Peaceful…

 

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Soothing.

 

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Tranquil.

 

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But really….

 

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Surrounded by those delicate creatures…

 

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Even this fast talking, transplanted Jersey girl slowed down and said…

Ahh.

 

 

The bird agreed.

 

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I think my blood pressure must have dropped 10 points.

 

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Give me a book and a glass of iced tea?

 

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I could have stayed there all day.

And then, there were butterflies.

 

Magic Wings is aptly named.

 

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It’s a large greenhouse like building with meandering paths filled with tropical foliage, blooms, birds and…..

 

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Butterflies!

 

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Everywhere you look…

 

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There were bright bursts of color flitting from leaf to leaf…

 

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And hat to hat.

 

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The husband was popular among the winged set at first…

 

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But I had my admirers as well.

 

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It really was quite magical.

 

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As a matter of fact, I am.

 

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There were brightly colored birds…

 

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And brightly colored feeding stations.

 

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Sugared water in a dish scrubber? Might be worth trying at home.

 

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It wasn’t easy photographing them as they’re constantly on the move.

 

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And even more impossible to film them flying by.

 

But rotting bananas seemed to be a good pit stop.

 

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This blue fellow was terribly hard to catch standing still.

 

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While these two were battling tooth and nail for the right to that impatient bloom.

 

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You had to be careful where you walked, and sat….

 

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Since butterflies expend an enormous amount of energy flying from flower to flower, they sometimes run out of oomph and simply drop to the floor in front of you.

And sometimes, if you were lucky…

 

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You captured a little butterfly porn.

 

 

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It was lovely.

 

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And if you’re asking the question, “Have you petted your fringed lizard today?”

 

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Why yes….

 

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Yes, I have.

Her name was Samantha, and she was a very sweet girl.

Don’t judge.

Reptiles need love too….

 

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And then there were bugs…..

Day 5.

(Only 2 more Berkshire vacation days to go. There will be an end… eventually. I promise.)

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Destination? An indoor conservation garden filled with wonderful (and sometimes creepy crawling) things.

But first we had to get there.

We passed beautiful stone churches…

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The ever present windmills…

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And a very strange breed of Berkshire deer.

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If you use Apple maps navigation like we do, you know that SIRI can put you on some very out of the way routes to cut 35 seconds off your arrival time. This trip was no exception.

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If that bitch directs you to take the Quarry Road up and over the mountain?

Do. Not. Go.

Calling it a road is a stretch, as it got narrower and narrower until it was nothing but a dirt trail. I stopped photographing shortly after that pic was taken because it was rutted, slippery with mud and about 4 inches wide. My fingernails were too busy digging ruts into the dashboard to operate the camera.

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But we survived and made it to…

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I wasn’t sure what to expect, as there were mixed reviews of this small family run operation.

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But the cafe looked alright.

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(No, we didn’t eat. Food lovers will have to wait for dinner.)

We purchased tickets and walked through the first door to….

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A veritable insect Disneyland!

Warning – if you don’t love bugs and reptiles? Come back for Part 2. There were a lot of both.

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Personally? I love me some bugs! The bigger and creepier the better.

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I mean, look at them!

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A mass of writhing Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches.

What’s not to love?

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Yeah…

Thanks for that.

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This one was hungry.

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These lived their lives upside down.

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But these?

These fellows from New Guinea looked like dead leaves walking, and were just plain amazing!

There were brightly colored poisonous dart frogs…

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Who were hard to photograph as they kept jumping around at will.

Very rude…

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Don’t they know I have to blog to write?

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As well as weird and wonderful lizards.

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How cute is that?

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I could easily have spent all day in just that one room….

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But the butterflies were waiting….

Shaker village barn part 2…. in which I converse with my people.

 

We spent a lot of time in that beautiful barn.

 

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And if you were paying attention during that riveting pig video in the previous post, you noticed some rather strange background noise…

 

 

Not what you expect to hear while trying to tiptoe through the cow pies, but it was fascinating all the same.

“An installation that offers visitors an immersive musical experience featuring some of the Shakers’ oldest melodies or, as they called them, ‘solemn songs’. (Solemn songs are textless melodies – without harmony or counterpoint – used in early Shaker worship from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.)”

“An integral part of the rural landscape, the two wooden silos, erected in 1908, stored feed corn for livestock. While many wooden silos across America have succumbed to disrepair or suburban sprawl (they haven’t been built since 1942, when fiberglass silos were introduced), the two at Hancock Shaker Village stand tall as ‘silent sentinels,’ beautiful icons of the culture of rural preservation and farming in America.”

 

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Moving on, we headed outside.

 

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Where the husband found an old implement he had to play with….

 

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And I found my people next to the manure spreader.

 

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Some were sunbathing…

 

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Others were hanging out with turkeys.  (No, I’m not talking about the husband.)

And we’re walking…

 

 

Clearly I missed my calling, and could have been a poultry manager in an earlier life.

 

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The next barn wasn’t nearly as impressive….

 

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But the husband still managed to ignore the do not touch signs and get into trouble.

 

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There was an old car…

 

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An an old sign.

 

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An old building…

 

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Which housed the old store…

 

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As well as an old living room…

 

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With an old television.

 

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I can’t imagine watching Game Of Thrones on that. Heck, the dragons would only be an inch and a half tall.

 

 

Where’s the fun in that?

 

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Entering another workshop building we found….

 

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A giant cider press.

 

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The weaving room.

 

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The broom room.

 

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And the basket room.

If they used it, they made it.

A society of Friends, remember? No sex. They had plenty of time on their hands.

And as we were leaving?

 

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We met an employee who’s sole job was to care for chickens.

Sit on a bench, in the sun, and pet a chicken all day.

I am totally qualified for that position.

Sign me up!

 

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Chicken duly met and petted, we left Hancock Shaker village with a finer appreciation of the simple things in life.

 

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Community…

Hard work…

Fresh air….

Chickens!

But not celibacy.

I don’t need that much simplicity….

 

Barn envy.

 

It’s a terrible thing, but we had it…. because this was a very special barn.

 

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It was massive, beautiful and pretty much dominated the Hancock Shaker Village landscape.

 

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The original structure was a calf barn built in 1880, but it burnt to the ground in 1910 and this was the glorious replacement.

 

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Structurally, it’s a wonder.

 

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And if I had been a cow back then,  (opposed to the cow I am now)  I’d have considered myself fortunate to live there.

 

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Hell, throw in a few scatter rugs and a frozen margarita blender….  I’d live there now.

 

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Those Shaker builders knew their stuff.

 

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5 stories of wonderful is what it was.

 

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The husband may have been walking around with his mouth open, I’m not sure.

 

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But when we heard that the sanitary commission of the 1930’s forbade the farmers to actively use and house cows there due to the wooden floors, we almost wept.

 

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What a waste.

 

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So an ell was added on… with concrete floors, and I made some new friends.

 

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Including a chicken who clearly ignores signs.

 

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And to continue my tradition of riveting video clips…

I give you Pig Washing Beets.

 

 

 

Never let it be said we don’t know how to have a good time on vacation.

 

 

 

 

More Hancock Shakers….

 

The second building we toured was the living quarters of the Brothers, Sisters and Elders.

 

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Everything was segregated by sex…. even the stairways were separate.

Everyone was busy, and everyone had a job.

 

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The women sewed clothing.

 

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The men made shoes.

 

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The women grew herbs and mixed their own medicines….

 

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As well as ran a simple hospital.

 

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The men made traditional boxes…

 

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And furniture.

I’m pretty sure everyone did this:

 

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The beds didn’t look very comfortable…

 

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And there was a lot of praying.

 

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Probably for a queen size Serta pillow soft, but that might just have been me.

 

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It’s hard for me to believe 300 people in the prime of their lives lived and worked together without ever being more than Friends.

But I could sure use a Shaker woman or two to come clean my house.

I certainly don’t have all that pent up energy to waste.