Thankful for the mountains — #berkshireweekend

The scarlet streak at the roadside is unmistakeable. I can imagine an Impressionist painter wanting to absorb this place — or a dancer, or a musician — imagine them wanting to hold the feeling of standing here as the sun slips free of the stratus clouds and touches hundreds of winterberries.

Windy Hill Orchard grows rows of bushes every year. You can walk into a sea of scarlet higher than your head, and they’re bright even on cold, cloudy afternoons. I can look through them to Monument Mountain on the horizon.

The pathways there hold memories of the people whose homelands I’m standing on. When a place in the mountains soothes me with beauty, I think of the people of the Mohican nation, and I feel thankful and sad, knowing how deeply they love these hills. They would have seen winterberry in the marshes across so many years, and they still do.

This week I’m feeling thankful for the land. I’m thankful for the smudge of wetland where I live, and the bluebirds and thrushes and robins, mockingbirds and cedar waxwings who eat the winterberries, and all the people around me who keep open space open, or grow food with understanding, or care for the river and teach the names of plants, or walk in the winter fields and look for seed pods opening …

A blaze of berries

Winterberry glows in the sun at Windy Hill Orchard in Great Barrington.
Photo by Kate Abbott

Winterberry glows in the sun at Windy Hill Orchard in Great Barrington.

Winterberry brightens the fields at Windy Hill Orchard in Great Barrington. They cut the branches for holiday wreathes, or you can take home an armload to set in a mason jar full of water on the kitchen table — and a peck of eight kinds of apples too.

Events coming up …

Find more art and performance, outdoors and food in the BTW events calendar.

Ventfort Hall hangs stockings by the chimney. Photo by Susan Geller
Dec 7 2023 @ 10:00 am
Ventfort Hall is decorated for the holidays in 19th-century style, with lighted tree and stockings by the fire and more, and open for self-guided explorations.
Paperwhites fill the greenhouse with petals and scent at Winterlights at Naumkeag.
Dec 7 2023 @ 4:30 pm
Winterlights is back, filling the gardens with holiday light and sound for a magical outdoor experience at Naumkeag as it shimmers with thousands of lights.
Clouds and sun pattern the sky over the Clark Art Institute.
Dec 7 2023 @ 6:00 pm
David Lean's film asks searching questions about identity and loyalty, and the consequences of British intervention in Arab affairs.

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.

If you’d like to see the website grow, you can join me for a few dollars a month, enough for a cup of coffee and a cider doughnut. Members get access to extra stories and multimedia, itineraries a bookmark tool. Let me know what you're looking for, and we’ll explore together.

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