Why create a digital Berkshire guide? I have loved this place and written about it for 20 years, and in this site I want to create a guide of a kind I have not seen anywhere else.
It’s a look at what’s going on here that gets under the surface, close enough to show what an artist feels or an event feels like. It’s is a regional arts and events calendar — music and theater and dance. It’s a guide to hiking trails and canoe trips and restaurants linked to local farms.
And, bringing them all together, it’s a hub for our creative community, which has been growing for years and gathering critical mass. As a writer, I get to know them, and I tell their stories.
Some things it is not. It is not advertising. I am a journalist, and I write for Berkshire publications as well as this website, but I will never write a story about someone because they pay me to. This is also not a crowd-sourced website, and it is not a comprehensive list of every place in the county. I am one person writing about a place I love, and I want to share what gets my blood moving.
Why is it By the Way Berkshires?
I’ve been writing as By the Way since 2008. I moved back to the Berkshires that winter to take a job as editor of Berkshires Week in the Berkshire Eagle, the local daily paper, and my editors invited me to write a weekly column.
When I was looking for a name for the column, I pulled out Henry David Thoreau’s essay about climbing Mount Greylock and read about him picking raspberries By the Way — so I called it that, and I wrote my first column about it.
In 2015 I went freelance, and I launched the first version of this website. People in the Berkshires knew me by my column, so I brought the name here. I liked the feel of casual, friendly storytelling. And as Kate Krolicki began working with me in the winter of 2018, we kept the name to carry that feeling on.
Why explore the Berkshires?
Open country and open minds make a rare combination. Out here we have open ridges and 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 and museums that gather internationally known artists. Our creative life is becoming known around the world.
Where are the Berkshires?
The Berkshires are hills on the Western edge of Massachusetts. They run along the border with New York state. Berkshire County is a long, lean stretch from Connecticut north to Vermont, 50 miles from end to end.
I live in a high green country with a vivid creative life. It is a rare place. In some ways it’s an in-between place, across the state from Boston and up the Hudson River from New York, and as a cultural area and as a geographic one, it spills over the state line.
So who’s writing these stories?
My name is Kate — Katherine Osborn Abbott — and I am a freelance writer in the Berkshires. I have lived here for 20 years, with a short break on the New Hampshire coast, and I write about this place in newspapers and magazines, fiction and poems.
For some eight years I was the editor of Berkshires Week, a weekly arts and culture magazine in the Berkshire Eagle, the county’s daily newspaper. The magazine became a hub, a place where people who wanted to get out for some fresh air and color and laughter could see what was going on around us.
Now I also write for the Boston Globe, Berkshire Magazine, Hill Country Observer and others. The conversation is expanding, and the Berkshires is still my beat.