Phyllis McGuire: Nothing like a family visit to remember what we should appreciate

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WILLIAMSTOWN — "Would it be OK if Steve and I came up to see you next weekend? my eldest grandchild, Alyssa, asked when phoning from the apartment in New York City she and her bridegroom, Steve, moved into a few months ago.

"It's more than OK," I said and laughed.

"Grandma, don't make any plans for entertaining us," Alyssa said. "We just want to relax."

Nonetheless, seeing through Alyssa's and Steve's eyes in the days they stayed with me this summer, I found my appreciation of things I had begun to take for granted was renewed.

The newlyweds were delighted when we ate breakfast on my patio, encompassed by the wooded mountains and lush green lawns, with birdsong caressing our ears. "It's so beautiful and peaceful," said Alyssa.

That evening as we sat under a huge umbrella in the outdoor area of the Water Street Grill, Alyssa sighed, "This is such a lovely day. It's always hot and humid in New York."

When a gentleman interrupted his meal to retrieve my sweater, which had fallen from the back of my chair, Alyssa remarked, "Everyone is so nice."

The next day, we drove to Bennington to visit The Apple Barn. "I hope Steve isn't disappointed. I'm always telling him how great it is,"Alyssa whispered in my ear as we walked into the Apple Barn, arm-in-arm.

I have no doubt that Steve was favorably impressed with the Apple Barn. He came away with plenty of delectable baked goods, including whoopie pies, a New England specialty he had never heard of but was eager to taste once he set eyes on them in the showcase.

Years ago my eyes were peeled on the exit of the Apple Barn's corn maze, waiting for Alyssa and her brother, Nicholas, to appear. But they were lost, and family members were about to seek help in locating the children when they finally emerged, oblivious of our concern. Triumphant smiles lighting their faces, they were pleased as punch to have navigated the corn maze.

At the Apple Barn this summer perhaps the aroma of fresh baked goods whet our appetites or perhaps our inner body clocks signaled that it was time to eat.

We drove to the The Publyk House, and enjoyed dinner in the outdoor area where the view of the beautiful natural scenery as well as the Bennington monument, was awe-inspiring. "If I were an artist..." I thought.

That night we gathered around my dining room table, not to eat but to keep with family tradition, playing Scrabble. Then until two o'clock in the morning, we talked about subjects ranging from politics to the likelihood of Alyssa someday bearing twins, as there are three sets of twins in the family.

Before my granddaughter and my grandson by marriage drove back to New York City, we sunned ourselves poolside at the condominium where I live. And we visited Where'd You Get That, which has been a "must do" for Alyssa ever since, at age five, she discovered it was a wonderland of ingenious games and puzzles."I could stay here all day," she said these many years later. But thirst pulled her away.

In Tunnel City Coffee, Alyssa said she wanted to go to the farm stand where I used to buy produce when she was a tyke. "I'll try to remember how we got there," I said. The GPS was of no use, because I did not know the name or address of the farm.

As Alyssa drove and I gave directions, we made right turns and left turns that led to a fork in the road. "Bear left," I told Alyssa. "Grandma, you did it,"Alyssa exclaimed a minute later, "Look there's the farm stand."

After selecting produce, Alyssa dropped in a wooden box what it cost to fulfill her wish: Bring home fresh ears of corn from the country.

It was a weekend of simple pleasures, but the memories of our time together are priceless.

Phyllis McGuire writes from her home in Williamstown. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.


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