Pittsfield

Herman Melville through women’s eyes

The maniacal sea captain, the mad-cap whaling ship, the crewmen from New England and the Ocean Islands sleeping peacefully in a lantern-lit tavern in New Bedford … the book was a radical and visceral challenge when it came out, more than 150 years ago. Can the story hold as radical an edge today? Maybe, if women tell…

A treasure hunt for people of hay

Berkshire naturalist Thom Smith has gone searching for sculptures, from jazz musicians to refugees to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza …  I have often called Berkshire artist Michael Melle’s sculptures, ‘straw people,’ but they are not straw — he chooses second cutting hay chosen for the best results. These hay and stick sculptures are fluid,…

Milkweed brings the monarchs

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 guides list Asclepiads syriaca as…

By the Way — Find unexpected marvels in a small city

When I moved back to the Berkshires, almost 10 years ago now, I knew very little about Pittsfield. I knew Mohican hunting camps had once ringed Pontoosuc Lake, and that Pontoosuc means “place to hunt the winter deer.” On a flat calm day, I had drifted in a sailboat in the center of the lake.…