“Are you a mom?” asked the cashier at The Odyssey Bookshop as she rang up Suzi’s Mount Holyoke College T-shirt.
Even though Suzi and I have long been old enough to be the parents of college students, I’m pretty sure it was the first time she had been asked, and I think she was a bit taken aback.
“I’m … an alum,” she said after a slight hesitation.
We were in South Hadley for my mother’s birthday. The Yarde Tavern — which in a previous incarnation hosted our wedding rehearsal dinner — is roughly equidistant between our house and where my parents and brother live in New York.
My brother had been worried about not being able to get a seat because of October leaf-peepers, so I made reservations at his recommendation, although based on what we saw on our drive to the restaurant, tag sales were the main draw on this day.
It was cloudy and a little breezy, but still nice enough to sit out on the deck. There was a bit of a gathering and a couple people dressed in German garb, so it may have been some kind of Oktoberfest party.
We were there for over two hours, and after a few pictures in the gazebo across the street, my parents and brother headed home and Suzi and I stopped at The Odyssey before taking a walk around Mount Holyoke.
The students were on break, so there weren’t many people around, but it’s always pleasant to visit.
And any visit to the area wouldn’t be complete without going to Atkins, where lots of people were getting their fall haul.
Suzi grabbed some vegetables that I basically ignored, but I walked out with pumpkin and banana nut breads, apple cider, cider doughnuts and doughnut holes.
The doughnuts almost didn’t happen because none were on the shelves, but we saw a few bags as we were getting ready to leave. They were fresh enough that the cashier noted they were still warm.
What a difference five months makes.
Mount Holyoke was closed to the public in May, so we just walked along the perimeter. However, when we realized the best way to get back to our car was through the back of campus, we risked it and hoped no one caught us.
No one did.
When we went to Yarde Tavern for my mother’s birthday last year, and when Suzi and I had lunch there in May because South Hadley makes for a nice getaway day, we sat outside because we had to.
This time, our reservation was for inside, but we asked to sit outside once we got there because we wanted to.
During that lunch in May, people were still required to wear masks unless they were at their seats. One woman spent so much time arguing about it, based on some policy statement the governor had made, that she could have gotten to her seat and probably ordered a drink if she hadn’t been bellyaching.
Everyone else in her party was wearing masks, and they didn’t seem all that bothered.
Yarde Tavern doesn’t require masks anymore, but The Odyssey (store policy) and Atkins (town bylaw) did. However, they were just minor inconveniences at worst, and it didn’t look like they were affecting anyone’s enjoyment.
It’s times like these where it feels like, at least in this part of the world, we are so close to getting the boulder all the way up that hill.