Curing cabin fever with bright color — #Berkshireweekend

The tables are covered with flowers. The marigolds are vivid orange, and they’re lying in a jumble of sunflowers with centers no wider than a thumb, and maroon-red spikes as feathery as astilbe … and all of them are bright in the middle of February.

The room is warm with voices too. I’ve walked into the Plant Connector on a winter Monday night, when downtown North Adams is quiet, and people are standing around the tables and talking. Meg Bantle and Laura Tupper-Palches from Full Well Farm are teaching a workshop on how to make flower crowns.

They dried the flowers last summer in their barn, carefully out of the sun to keep their color. And they brought them here to spread out on the tables in generous armfuls. They’ve drawn a varied crowd of women, all ages from grand-daughter to grandmother.

We each take a semi-circle of wire and walk around the table, choosing flowers one at a time. We ease stems apart to compare the hues and shapes of petals. The slowness of it laps around us. You hold a stem against the wire and wrap a waxy green tape to bind it, then lay on another, following the arc.

Here are tall grasses and delicate pods, and vivid heads of tiny blossoms that cluster like clover and shade from peach to sunset to cream. I think they’re called gomphrena, globe amaranth, and maybe that’s how we end up talking about amaranth seeds and flour, while three generations of a family compare notes, and someone tries on her creation to applause.

It feels like a rare thing, to be surrounded with color in late winter, and meet a flower I’ve never met before — and learn a new word too. A flower head made of tiny flowers is called an inflorescence. …

Dried flowers show vivid color in a workshop on making flower crowns with Full Well Farm at the Plant Connector in North Adams.
Photo by Kate Abbott

Dried flowers show vivid color in a workshop on making flower crowns with Full Well Farm at the Plant Connector in North Adams.

February gives unexpected glimpses of color when you explore. Armando Cortes and his brother danced at Mass MoCA over the weekend, trading foot percussion in the midst of his ceramics, and Marc Swanson’s painting catches the moon on the water in the deep green shade of EJ Hill’s curtains. You can walk onto the platform of Hill’s working roller coaster and stand surrounded in the center of the rose-pink loop …

Bright flowers bloom in the annual spring blubl show at the Berkshire Botanical Garden.
Photo by Kate Abbott

Bright flowers bloom in the annual spring blubl show at the Berkshire Botanical Garden.

You can also read Octavia Butler’s fantasy with the Bear and Bee Bookshop — or if you’re a touch farther north, try the W Collective’s chai, up in Bennington, Vt., and homemade pastries like strawberry poptarts …

Events coming up …

Find more art and performance, outdoors and food in the BTW events calendar.

Full Well Farm brings wreathes of rosemary and dried flowers to the North Adams Farmers Market.
Mar 2 2024 @ 9:00 am
Chocolate peanut butter cookies, fresh flowers, jams and pickles and cheeses ... the North Adams Farmers Market returns with more than a dozen farmers and makers.
Daffodils anticipate the spring in the annual show of bulbs at the Berkshire Botanical Garden.
Mar 2 2024 @ 9:00 am
Spring comes early inside Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Fitzpatrick Greenhouse as the annual Bulb Show brings daffodils, narcissi, tulips and more, free and open to the public, daily through March 17.
Matt Neely and Camille Upshaw touch hands and look searchingly at each other in Barrington Stage's 10x10 Festival of New Plays. Press photo courtesy of the theater
Mar 2 2024 @ 2:00 pm
Barrington Stage Company's annual 10x10 New Play Festival returns for its 13th Year as a compact cast of actors perform 10 short plays by 10 playwrights.

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

If you’d like to see the website grow, you can join me for a few dollars a month, enough for a cup of coffee and a cider doughnut. Members get access to extra stories and multimedia, itineraries a bookmark tool. Let me know what you're looking for, and we’ll explore together.

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