Expeditions for a sunny afternoon

The eggs come from a farm stand smaller than a chicken coop, and I almost missed it. The sign caught me as I was bowling south down Route 7 — shagbark hickory syrup — and I was curious enough to pull into a snowy driveway and turn around.

I’d been thinking that feels harder to find this kind of surprise right now, in January, on a sunny 20-degree day when the covid numbers are high. Bennington has more than a few shops closed for a few weeks and windows with ‘coming soon’ banners. I wanted something new. Nothing big — a ramble up a back road would be enough, or a new place for some local coffee and a doughnut.

I just wanted a sniff of mischief and color. In the fall I was wandering through Where’d You Get That?! (often a good place for ideas) and found myself looking up the British illustrator of the Harry Potter books. His name’s Jim Kay, and he’s got a new book out, a collection of paintings. The Bear and Bee helped me find a couple.

GPR Craft Products offers shagbark hickory syrup, fresh eggs, condiments and more at a roadside stand in Bennington, Vt.
Photo by Kate Abbott

GPR Craft Products offers shagbark hickory syrup, fresh eggs, condiments and more at a roadside stand in Bennington, Vt.

Looking through his visions of greenhouses so amiably hodgepodge they look hand-blown … I thought that kind of magic might have an appeal right now — a feeling of humor and transformation.

So I went looking. And I found a farmstand with shelves of dried mushrooms and a flavor of distilled sweetness I’ve never heard of before. And half a mile from downtown, I found a trailhead for Headwaters Park along the Walloomsac River. The path crosses the water and runs above a marsh, and the land stretches flat and smooth. I wish we had a word for the shadows the trees cast on the snow.

Here are a few more glimses of color and taste and texture for winter days …

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.

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