Outdoors

Becket quarry — Ghosts in the machines

Berkshire naturalist Thom smith takes a walk into the industrial past of a Becket quarry. The Chester-Hudson Quarry operated for close to 100 years. It is a skeleton of its past now. When it closed in the 1960s, buildings, machinery and vehicles were abandoned as if the workers finished their shift and left for the…

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,…

Kayaks paddle on Benedict Pond

Berkshire naturalist Thom Smith paddles in the Southern Berkshires … Benedict Pond nestles in the 12,000-acre Beartown State Forest in Monterey, a year-round destination for the outdoors enthusiast. It is as pretty a small lake as any I have found in Western Massachusetts, and at nearly 1600 feet elevation it offers a hint of northern wilderness.…

Chicory blossoms blue in late summer

Berkshire naturalist Thom Smith finds late-summer wildflowers in the fields. A quick glance along August roadsides will immediately reveal white flowers, yellow flowers, pink flowers, orange flowers, all intense, and competing for the attention of pollinating insects of all shapes, sizes and descriptions. Among them grows a purple-blue blossom with fine serrations on the ends…

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…

Melville and Hawthorne on Monument Mountain

Arrowhead, Herman Melville’s historic house in Pittsfield, will lead a marathon reading of Moby-Dick through this Sunday, and the annual hike up Monument Mountain in Great Barrington — to commemorate Herman Melville’s meeting with Nathaniel Hawthorne — will set out on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. I have walked the loop on the mountain on…