Central Berkshires

BTW Harvest festivals and artists fill the hills

Last time I saw the fairgrounds, two glass-blowers were shaping a pumpkin on a metal rod and pulling the molten glass like taffy to give it a stem. A fiber artist brought panels as large as oil paintings in silken thread, and my parents found a table of wooden books — boxes carved like grimoires…

Thom Smith recalls Wahconah Falls

Berkshire Naturalist Thom Smith takes a summer walk in Dalton. A sign you may have noticed as you entered this peaceable place we call The Berkshires announces you are in America’s Premier Cultural Result. While this is true, it is also a place of tranquility and natural beauty. Take for instance its waterfalls, some forty…

Fiddlers jam at Hancock Shaker Village

Imagine holding hands and spinning until the room blurs. Imagine that movement in someone’s arms, to the beat of music. Imagine the musicians sliding from one tune to the next, the melody racing over the chords. Across the country, across 200 years and more, folk dance music has stayed alive. Mill workers have played on their breaks,…

A walk on the Ashuwillticook

Berkshire Naturalist Thom Smith strolls down the bike path on a winter afternoon. Pronounced Ash-oo-WILL-ti-cook, the Ashuwillticook bike path between Lanesborough and Adams in the Hoosac River Valley takes its name from the American Indian language. Ashuwillticook literally means “at the in-between pleasant river” or, more commonly today, “the pleasant river in between the hills.”…

Finding color in the winter woods

Berkshire naturalist Thom Smith revisits a favorite winter walk. What a difference a year makes. Thanksgiving morning, 2016, with camera in hand I hiked through the woods around Wahconah Falls, carefully avoiding the gorge and falls, as I was alone and the rocks were very slippery. It had snowed the previous day and night, and…

Springside Park in winter

Berkshire naturalist Thom Smith explores the wildest corner of the city.  Springside Park’s 237 acres of mostly undeveloped field and woodland fit gently into the residential neighborhoods of Pittsfield’s North End. Far more trees — and squirrels — live in this part of town than any other, in the city’s largest park. How large is…