Sunday, June 1, 2008


Under The Same Big Top

We didn't do too much as far as recreation on Saturday, due to the rain, real or impending, all day. So after lunch Sunday we struck north, looking for something interesting to do. First thing we came upon was a big pitched tent in the middle of Amherst's town green. It was a Cultural Survival Bazaar.

We found a parking spot behind these guys, who were taking advantage of the steady traffic to exhibit their individual protests.

The event wasn't exactly mobbed, but there was a healthy number of people entering/exiting the tent and milling about the green.

Nearby was a band from Ecuador, playing 'Music from the Andes' to an appreciative crowd.

Their soothing music set a good backdrop for the multi-cultural-ness of the Bazaar.

Not wanting to bring the dog inside the big tent, Kelly waited outside while I went in first.

Inside the tent, there was a good number of vending booths, with a great number of interesting things, made from everything from silk to wood to animal horn.

These colorful bowls appear to have been made from various foil packagings, tightly rolled up and weaved together. Now that's recycling.

In fact most of the stuff under the tent was very colorful.

You can pull the little rod out of these wooden frogs, and rub them along their backs, to make croaking sounds...

We ran into the collage-making people again; we had seen their work a couple weeks ago at the Asparagus Festival in West Brookfield.

Cruelty-Free Silk products:

Some of the stuff was apparently very 'indigenous' and authentic. Some of it a little more geared to the American consumer...

Kelly got a turn inside the tent, while I waited outside, listening to tales from this Native American.

We decided to move on. I had multi-culturalism brewing in my head, so we decided to head up to the hills for some Peace Pagoda tranquility. You heard me right. We drove out to waterfall-laden Leverett.

A Honey Bee goes about it's work. It was good to see that, knowing the danger they are in lately...

Luke, Ya' Woud'na Beleeve-Init If I Toll Ya'

I first noticed it years ago when I was standing atop the summit at Mt. Norwottuck, looking north. A small, bright white dot, far off, alone near the top of a nondescript, distant hill. Even with my binoculars I couldn't quite make out what it was, but I could tell the small fuzzy, frustratingly jiggly bright white dot in the eyepiece was dome shaped. It didn't appear to have the dimensions of a water tower. It seemed more like a big telescope observation dome. I was determined to find out what it was. On and off for months when I'd think of it, I'd try to find it on google maps, or gauge the distance and direction with my GPS from other summits like Mt. Pollux. One time I took my kid with me on a hunt for it, through all kinds of back roads, having him look up at the crests of trees and hills as we drove around the area I imagined it was located, but we came back empty handed. He still reminds me of that luckless trip to this day. Then one day, on a chance motorcycle ride through the backwoods, I passed by this sign, at the entrance to a dirt driveway.

Wha...Could it be?

Yes. In fact it was. I had finally found my White Whale. Since then I've been back to this intriguing spot several times. You have to park at a small parking area just a short ways from the main road, and from there get out to walk up to the top. Not far away you pass a building with a somewhat far eastern design. It's a hint at what's coming.

The path is short, but rather steep. Then balanced rocks begin to appear along the path. Some very numerous,

Some placed in random openings in the woods along the path,

Some very small, and by themselves.

Walking on, you can begin to see there's something unusual up ahead. Hmm. Something very unusual, and unexpected. Something big. White. And Round. Something very decidedly not Puritan New England, yet here it is, dropped in the woods on top of a hill of an old, wholly New England town, thousands of miles from it's brethren....

A Buddhist Peace Pagoda.

That's right. Rub your eyes...For a sense of scale, those small dots on the right of the picture are people.

Seemingly totally out of place; I still gawk in amazement whenever I see it. On each corner is a religious Buddhist statue, with steps and a broad walkway encircling the massive building. The golden fixture on it's peak glistening in the sun, it's eastern lines and designs; a completely alien structure to this New Englander's befuddled eyes. I've seen pictures of this sort of building, but never in real life...never in this scale, and never in the back woods of western Massachusetts. They could just as well have landed a spacecraft here.

Right next to it is a temple and boarding house for the monks, that is still under construction. On the other side, is a small pond and garden, with Coy fish and tadpoles swimming about.

All around this hilltop is an abundant sense of quiet, peaceful tranquility, be you Buddhist or not. Kelly had to wait down below with the dog, while I came up to take these pictures, as dogs are not allowed here.

These banners with writing on them that I assume are prayers, are hanging everywhere about the garden area.

I always leave here with a fresh sense of tranquility...

Twilight Creatures

I was still feeling that tranquility later in the evening, when we made a quick dash for a sunset view to cap the weekend...

We found we weren't the only ones waiting for sunset. Looking down from the glorious sky, we saw this crawly critter, which brought some alarm from Kelly as it scurried away from the exact location she had been sitting:

Twilight also brings out the bigger critters; a Coyote crossed our path on the way back down, causing Kelly to clutch her dog protectively and me to keep a wary eye out and make loud noises the rest of the way down....well, the tranquility was nice while it lasted...


momofthree said...

i love your blog and look for it for fun things to do,, can you tell us where this place is, the buddist place or Peace Pogado,, Levertt??? how do get there please> thanks Missy

Tony said...

Hi Missy, I guess the easiest way there is to get on route 63 going north in Leverett (Which is called Long Plain Road), then take a right onto North Leverett Road. Go about 2 miles until you see an old building with a waterfall on your right (pictured in this blog post above), and take that right, onto Cave Hill Road. Just follow Cave Hill Road about a mile until you see a white sign with Buddhist writings on it, you cant miss it, it will be on your left.

Have fun, thanks for checking out the blog!

Oh, and if you keep going south on Cave hill Road, you'll get to Montague road, then Rattlesnake Gutter Road is on your left a few hundered feet from there. At the end of Rattlesnake Gutter Road is nice trail to walk, among big glacial erratics...

Anonymous said...

I've not been to the Peace Pagoda for a few years now. Are they still working on the monastery there?

Tony said...

It doesn't look completed yet, and when I was there there wasn't anyone working on it. There's a small donation box in front of it, I wonder if maybe they're still collecting money to continue?

Anonymous said...

WOW....gorgeous pictures!!! love the worm :)