This is a recent view of the field that sits next to Melville's old house in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In summer it's glorious, in winter it's thick with snow. As a man who was more skillful riding waves than tending crops, Melville never could make the farm pay, and his debts from these acres eventually sank him. By the time he left the Berkshires, he was virtually penniless. Everything of value was in his wife's name, and her money alone sustained him until he became a customs officer in New York at the age of 47. His pay in that service was only $4 a day, and he worked six days a week. As the official site of U.S. Customs notes, "he never received a promotion or a pay raise during his 19-year-career."