The Berkshires run along the western edge of Massachusetts — so far west that often the state forgets about them. Out here we have ridges lined with trees, a slice of the Appalachian trail, canoe trips on the Housatonic River — and we have the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, theaters that send plays to Broadway, museums that gather internationally known artists from the Bronze Age, India, Italy or the New Yorker. Open country and open minds make a rare combination.
I have loved this place and written about it for 15 years, in journalism and fiction and poetry. Recently, for half that time, I edited a weekly arts and culture magazine in three regional newspapers. I’ve had a long time to learn the hills.
Now I write for myself and for regional magazines, and in this site I want to create a guide of a kind have not seen anywhere else. Sites like Yelp give me a list out of context — I don’t know whether I’ll share the taste of the person recommending this coffee shop, and often I don’t. A five-star review may lead me to a perfectly ordinary diner with storebought bread and jam in plastic packets. But not long ago two farmers in Ghent, N.Y., recommended a cafe in Chatham that served me a meltingly smooth ham and gruyere quiche I would willingly drive hours to taste again.
That’s the voice I look for when I come to a new place: the local people who know the doughnut shop without a sign or the free puppet theater in the park. And that’s the voice I want to give you. Come visit and I’ll show you all my favorite places.