Berkshire naturalist Thom Smith goes looking for butterflies and their food plants. This early August afternoon, before a heavy rain drove me home, I watched two monarchs apparently mating and another acting as if it would soon be laying eggs. I found them on milkweed plants. Flower and weed […]Read article
Thom Smith has been walking in the Berkshire woods for generations. He is a local naturalist and a nature columnist for the Berkshire Eagle, and for many years he was the natural science curator at the Berkshire Museum. He has been writing about his favorite Berkshire expeditions for years and sharing them with me.
Thom and I met in my time at the Eagle. When I was editor of Berkshires Week, he would write for my magazine — he would tell me about canoe trips and butterflies at Lime Kiln Sanctuary. I would sit at my desk late at night, reading his walk to Wahconah Falls and wishing I could be out there.
Once or twice he has invited me to join him. In late June I went with him and an old friend of his to Hawley Bog and Bog Pond in Savoy. He showed me bog orchids — rose pogonias — and he leant me a kayak to bob around looking for sundew and wild cranberry.
Walking with him gives the woods a new depth. I often find trails to ramble on, but it’s easy to miss what I don’t know. He knows birds by their song — that high quick call is a scarlet tanager. He gave me a taste of wild ginger. Sundew have round, bright red-orange leaves no wider than my little finger, and they are carniverous — and I’d never seen them before.
Since I started this website, Thom has been writing about his travels for me here in all weathers and in all seasons. Come take a walk and see.