Fall foliage in the Berkshires, seen strolling along Housatonic, Main, Walker, Franklin, and Church streets in the village of Lenox, MA. These photos were made October, 13, 2016; they look at the ordinary rather than the spectacular, hoping to show that a gradual transformation in the village’s abundant foliage is enough enliven an ordinary afternoon stroll.
The “beauty shots” that chamber of commerce types prefer often do a disservice to the area itself, which has developed an interesting enough character on its own, drawing on far more resources than any chamber would contribute. The commercial district of Lenox is the victim of too many people with too many ideas of what looks good that it’s a wonder it still looks as good as it does. But it is beginning to resemble a giant board game with game pieces being represented by “sandwich boards” that are far more annoying than alluring. Anyway, here’s a handful of casual cell phone photos of Lenox village taken on April 29, 2016. Take another look at the same places in two weeks and the difference will blow your mind.
The founding of Lenox, MA
The founding of Lenox is described in the following excerpt from Rev. Clayton J. Potter’s “Historical Address” given at the Centennial Anniversary of the Dedication of the Old Church on the Hill, Lenox, Massachusetts, June 12, 1906.
“The Rev. Peter Reynolds of Somers, Conn., was one of seven men who had purchased from an inhabitant of Stockbridge who was an undesirable citizen, certain lands in that town, in order the community might be relieved of his further residence there. To compensate these men, the government gave them 4000 acres of uncleared land lying north of Stockbridge.
This tract covered all of what is now the present town of Lenox, and perhaps the township; and in the records of the time it was called the Ministers’ Grant, in as much as five of these men were ministers. (The implication, made in a history of the town, that this tract of land belonged to any Minister of the town by virtue of his office and that the title to it was commuted later to his obvious loss, is misleading.)”
Read the full text plus see other material.
April 14, 2016 Article by Dave Read
Besides having a world-wide reputation as an arts and cultural destination, the Berkshires is noted as a place for outdoors recreation, including such activities as skiing, hiking, camping, biycling, fishing, golf, canoeing, sailing. As a service to people who may be planning a visit to Berkshire county, we have put together a list of the various places available for enjoying the natural beauty of the area. Elsewhere on BerkshireLinks you can find listing for where to stay and arts and entertainment schedules, as well as how to get here by bus or train.
BerkshireLinks articles on Berkshires parks and recreation:
- Ashuwillticook Rail Trail,
- Bartholomew’s Cobble,
- Berkshire Botanical Garden,
- Bullard Woods
- Kennedy Park, Lenox
- Mount Greylock State Reservation,
- Upper Goose Pond
Parks & outdoors recreation in the Berkshires (external links)
- Appalachian Trail – Berkshires
- Bash Bish Falls State Park,
- Beartown State Forest,
- Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sancturay,
- Chester-Blandford State Forest,
- Clarksburg State Park,
- Goose Pond
- Hinsdale Flats Watershed Resource Area
- Jug End Reservation;
- Monument Mountain,
- Mount Everett State Reservation,
- Mount Washington State Forest,
- Natural Bridge State Park,
- Notchview Reservation
- October Mountain State Forest,
- Pittsfield State Forest,
- Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary,
- Richmond Pond (Mass. DFW pdf)
- Sandisfield State Forest,
- Savoy Mountain State Forest,
- Tolland State Forest,
- Tyringham Cobble,
- Umpachene Falls,
- Wahconah Falls State Park,
- Western Gateway Heritage State Park,
- Windsor State Forest.
Happy 40th Anniversary Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion, broadcasting the final program of their 39th year on June 28, 2014 at Tanglewood. The Berkshires have been on the show’s itinerary every year since 2000; the July 2, 2006 show, featuring Meryl Streep, was recorded for the PBS series Great Performances.
I got hip to A Prairie Home Companion around 1980, at a time in my life when sitting still indoors with the radio on was the last thing on my mind. Today, that’s my favorite pastime! Whatever it was about the show that got my attention initially is lost to memory; it may have been an ad for the Sidetrack Tap, Bob’s Bank, or Bertha’s Kitty Boutique, or a musical guest, rarely heard on radio, such as Chet Adkins, or Johnny Gimble?
In reporting the News from Lake Wobegon accross the decades, Garrison Keillor relates anecdotes on the denizens of his imagination that are imbued with the same pathos and insight as you’ll find in a great novel.
Never an ardent reader of the comics, nor fan of TV serials, nevertheless I got totally hooked on Buster the Show Dog, the drama that ran from December 1986 to June 1987, with Father Finian and Timmy, the sad rich teenage boy. I was an English teacher then, and would tape shows to replay highlights of for my students.
No show is more memorable than the Feb. 14, 1987 one, which included Keillor’s bombshell announcement that the show would be shutting down later that year. I remember him saying he wanted to return to a life that included Saturdays! Who could begrudge him that? I remember also that show had Bobby McFerrin performing an 8 minute version of The Wizard of Oz – the whole damn movie, not just Over the Rainbow!
Bertha’s Kitty Boutique
Sometime after the show had returned, I got the bright idea to send them an idea for a new product for Bertha’s Kitty Boutique. My creation was Air of the Dog, an aerosol spray of dog scent, to be marketed to “Our lapless friends, persons who don’t care for cats.” Someone from the show wrote back: “cute idea, mister, but we write own own material here.”
In 2000, by which time I was covering Tanglewood here, A Prairie Home Companion began making annual appearances in the Koussevitsky Music Shed. where Keillor had his second date with his wife, an alumnus of the B.U. Tanglewood Institute.
I got to watch the dress rehearsal for the 2001 show, which afforded me the opportunity to have confirmed the genius of Keillor and the brilliance of the progrm. Can you imagine showing up late in the week at some venue or another, assembling a disparate cast of musical artists to be integrated with the house band and acting company, and then being ready by 6 PM Saturday to go live with 120 seamless minutes of material that flat-out entertains millions strong women, good-looking men, and above average children? Phew!
I chatted with Russ Ringsak, the show’s truck driver, who also is responsible for much of the local information that Keillor uses when he talks about whatever place the show is coming from. Arriving before everybody else, Ringsak has time to visit local establishments and get a feel for the place’s ambience.
My favorite local bit was the skit they did in 2001 re-visiting the legendary 1850 picnic on Monument Mountain where Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne met and began their important literary friendship. As related by Keillor, the party included Emily Dickinson, who would have been a teenager at the time, because “nobody said she wasn’t there!”
The chief value of A Prairie Home Companion for me is that not only does it make the suspension of disbelief easy, but it presents an alternate universe where I feel not only welcome but also satisfied with being troubled by frets and woes that are within the ken of an ordinary schmoe to deal with. It’s the version of life that God had in mind when we first were fitted-out with appetites – like wanting a little more of this and that – a little more time with someone or other, maybe, but not so much that anybody gets hurt. Or hurt too bad or for too long, anyway.
Pre-show serenade to after-party
The 2 hour show heard on the radio gets augmented at Tanglewood (maybe elsewhere, too) by a 10-15 minute pre-show serendae among the Shed audience and picnicers on the Lawn, and then an encore that sometimes goes on so long it feels like another show. You can see examples of both on our Youtube channel.
Berkshires to Boston Bicycle Tour 2014
Article by Dave Read
The Berkshires to Boston Bicycle Tour route introduces riders to the best of cycling in the Berkshires and across Massachusetts. Tour planners have organized it to provide peaceful roads, good pavement and magnificent scenery. Berkshires to Boston Bicycle Tour includes urban riding on bike paths, bike lanes, as well as community streets. You are invited to read reviews posted by riders on the 2013 tour: Website.
Registration is open and complete details are available here:
Performing arts in the Berkshires
Article by Dave Read.
Besides the annual programming at Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow, the Berkshire Theatre Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Shakespeare & Co., and Barrington Stage Company, there is a wonderful variety of performing arts presented in the Berkshires at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MASS MoCA North Adams, and the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA. See also: Movie theatres in the Berkshires.
- Rev Tor’s Dead of Winter Jam Celebrating the Music of the Grateful Dead The Garage Thursday, February 13 at 8pm
- Roomful of Blues, Popa Chubby, George Boone Blues Band Saturday, February 15, 2014 7:30pm
- Rick Springfield: Stripped Down Wednesday, March 26 at 7:30pm
- Soweto Gospel Choir Friday, February 14th – 8:00 pm
- Cowboy Junkies Saturday, March 8th – 8:00 pm
- Met Opera Live in HD: Prince Igor Encore Wednesday, March 12th – 12:00 pm
- Ani DiFranco, Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 8PM
- Western Swing Dance Party with The Brain Cloud Saturday, February 1, 8pm
- Roger Clark Miller: A Night of Surrealist Games Saturday, February 22, 8pm
- Spring Art Detox April 21, 23 & 25, 9am-11am
- More MASS MoCA events…