Shortbread blooms at Bakkerij Krijnen

The tulip on my plate sandwiches chocolate ganache between cream-colored cookies flecked with orange peel. The radio is playing Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me … The bulletin board and the shelves carry signs of local farms. And the conversation behind me at the counter is running along with laughter.

I’m grinning over my iced coffee. This place is well worth the mile walk. And don’t worry — you only have to amble that far if you park downtown, just outside the Bennington Bookshop, with an optimistic sense of geography. Bakkerij Krijene, Bennington’s Dutch bakery, sits on Route 9 slightly east of the town’s central (Route 7 and Route 9) intersection. On that sunny morning I pulled into a place in the shade and wandered up the road past the quilt shop, old mill buildings, white-clapboard houses, until the road forked at the red building with the bright yellow tulip sculpture by the door.

I’ve wanted to come here for months. Last winter John Seven wrote a story for me, for Berkshires Week & Shires of Vermont, about local Christmas cookies. I think of John as “one of my freelance writers” because we worked together for a good part of the last year. And his descriptions stick in the mind.

This cookie is soft and crisp and rich all at once, lightly tanged with orange. The filling feels smooth, almost melted. I’ve never had anything like it here. I chose it over stroopwaffles, almond criossants and linzer torte — a tough call. Above a shelf of raisin rolls, an old news story gives a history of the Molly Stark Trail.

I sit over my notebook, thinking over the months I’ve spent getting to know Southern Vermont. I used to cross the border now and then — for a play about Grandma Moses, or the Bennington Museum’s exhibit on Rockwell Kent. But two years ago Berkshires Week expanded into Bennington and Manchester, and my range expanded with it. Its history and back roads and entrepreneurs have begun to come alive for me.

On the radio, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz is explaining that yes, scientists have fans, and I sip strong coffee, enjoying the thought of people cheering loudly or silently for their favorite discoverers, haunting conference sites hoping to see them at a coffee shop. Wouldn’t it be electric to talk to some of mine?Rachel Carson in environmental science, Oliver Sacks in neurobiology, Lewis Thomas in microbiology and medicine, Robin Wall Kimmerer in botany, Jonas Salk in virology, Emelie du Chatelet in physics, Krithi Karanth in zoology … Somehow this light, sunny room feels like an easy place to play with curiosity.

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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