Field trips in an unexpected world #this weekend

The tadpoles are coming up for air. From the edge of the pond, we can see the bubbles when they touch the surface. Early this morning the beaver were swimming close along the eastern shore. It’s late morning now, with a rare breeze, and a young eagle is riding the thermals, high up.

No, wait — two — they’re large raptors, wings spread and glinting when they turn. We’re wondering whether the tips of their wing feathers are really lighter, or maybe the sunlight’s catching them as they swing around.

One dives batting at the other, and then there are three, five, six … chasing each other and circling so high none of us can tell whether any of the newcomers are turkey vultures. We’re staring up at the aerial show, and none of us, in three generations of cousins, have ever seen anything like it before.

I’m glad we have this time now. This is the living season. It’s the season for field trips and picnics and cold tea with a kick of ginger. Sweet corn is back in the farm stands. The crickets are out, and the air is full of voices.

A few days later, on an afternoon wandering in the Southern end of the county, Ben and Scarlet, my summer interns, brought me to a roadside place I’d never seen before.

The Bistro Box looks at first like the kind of casual summer popup where my chosen grandmother used to take me for fried clam rolls, the kind of place my grandfather would glory in finding on the Maine docks. It’s a takeout window under white pines that look tall enough to have grown for a hundred years, with picncic tables and a box full of frisbees and a smell like a campfire grill.

But the chalk menu involves peach ice cream from Maple Valley Farm, blueberry lemonade with the berries visible in the cup, and truffle fries with parmesan cheese. My hamburger came with a homemade bun and a tang of salt, and Scarlet’s and Ben’s with tomato bacon jam.

And we sat in the shade, mulling over the summer art at the Norman Rockwell Museum, and sharing fries with a grin, until clouds blew in for a few minutes in a dramatic skyscape of light and shadow, and a quick summer shower sent us up to downtown Great Barrington to take shelter in the Yellow House bookstore and talk over their graphic novels …

This weekend …

Berkshire Mountain Bakery in Housatonic offers fresh sourdough bread and pastries along the Housatonic River, above, and the Bistro Box in Great Barrington serves homemade roadside fare under the white pine trees.

Events coming up …

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

Berkshire sculptor Robin Tost's Spirit Bear honors the relatives of the black bears who live in the Berkshires.
May 23 2024 @ 9:00 am
The annual celebration of local creativity returns with more than 100 hands-on or behind-the-scenes events and open studios across the region, from May 17 to 27.
Mass MoCA catches sunlight on a summer day.
May 23 2024 @ 11:00 am
Mass MoCA and the Williamstown Theatre Festival present The Plastic Bag Store, an immersive, multimedia experience by Brooklyn-based artist Robin Frohardt.
Plums gleam in purple and gold at a farmers market table.
May 23 2024 @ 3:00 pm
The West Stockbridge Farmers Market offers fresh produce — fruits and vegetables in season, eggs, meats and cheeses, breads and baked goods, fudge and jams and more.

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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