Walking across the grass carrying homemade bread, I looked for old friends in the people gathering around the barn. The sun was out and the afternoon still held some warmth. They had potluck tables set out and a fire going in the fire pit, and a pot of cider stat on the stones to keep hot.
A few days ago, in her monthly drop-in writing group, Berkshire novelist Lara Tupper asked us all to think of a fall day, and I looked back to the cider festival in Vermont where my old college contradance group would gather for the weekend and play for a barn dance.
People would pick apples and start up the old cider press in a hay barn now mostly used to store summer theater props. Leaning against the barn wall I played reels with an old friend who had brought her fiddle with her from Northampton.
That kind of gladness is what I remember — feeling comfortable among people I’d known for years and people I’d never met, sight-reading tangos, talking about travels and folk traditions, the inner workings of the eyes, constellations. Walking in the dark, a friend showed me how to find Delphinus, the dolphin, for the first time.
At night we would dance, and one of the two old friends who hosted us would call. He had taught himself in college, as the band had learned these old jigs and waltzes. Musicians would switch in and out, dancing to get warm, and once eight of us formed a set and played while we danced to the high fast swing of Calliope House, feeling the sound in our breath and our hands and our moving bodies all at once.
That feeling’s what I’m looking for this long weekend. In these warm days before the cold comes, we have harvest festivals and downtown gatherings. Artists blow glass and shape clay. People gather for conversation and music and celebration for Indigenous Peoples Day. It’s a good time for cider doughnuts. Caramel apples and hot cider.
Celebrating in harvest time
The long weekend brings celebrations of Indigenous Peoples Day in Great Barrington, along with the annual harvest festival at Berkshire Botanical Garden and bright fall color in the hills.
Photos from Indigenous Peoples Day by Ryan Nelling, and photo of pumpkin painting by Susan Geller.
Events coming up …
Find more art and performance, outdoors and food in the BTW events calendar.