Thom Smith

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…

Choosing a homegrown Christmas Tree

Berkshire naturalist Thom Smith goes looking for holiday evergreens. While dreaming of a white Christmas, consider making it greener. Christmas trees, the living kind, fresh cut locally by a family or the farm, continue a New England tradition. Christmas trees give open space for wildlife. They help cleanse the air and produce oxygen, and it’s…

Mountain Meadow on a fall morning

Berkshire naturalist Thom Smith takes a fall walk in the northern hills. With land in Pownal Vermont and Williamstown, Massachusetts, I cannot think of a lovelier autumn walk than the preserve we call Mountain Meadow. Choose an afternoon with few clouds, when walking will be even more pleasurable if skies are blue and foliage contrasting, and…

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…