Sap and music rise on the edge of spring — #Berkshireweekend

The inner walls were smooth with age. Somehow they’ve worn away here at the center and kept their integrity, so they could holding a hundred feet of the trunk over my head. I was standing inside a tree.

By the scuffed ground around the bowl, I’m not the only small person who has found this magic circle. I was out in the golden hour, walking on the lower loop through Hopkins Forest on a night on the edge of spring, and the light was turning the woods into a new world.

I remember it now, when the sap house is boiling again and Williams College is planning their annual maple celebration. That spring I’d had the chance to walk through the woods with Hank Art and Scott Lewis and Drew Jones, who have cared for the woods for 50 years, and ask them what they see here.

They told me about spring nights when you could have found students from three colleges up by the vernal pools, keeping count of the salamanders. And maybe that’s what I remember now, that energy — finding what lives here that we’ve never seen, making something happen

In my student days the contradance band used to play for the spring festival — Saint Antoine’s Reel, Quebeçois music ripping along at top speed — we’d haul our instruments up the trail to cheer on people checking out the canopy walk, which was one of the first in the world when Meg Lowman made it in the 1990s. And we’d try fresh syrup, still hot from the boiler, poured over vanilla ice cream.

The lower loop trail holds long shadows in the late light on an early spring evening at Hopkins Forest in Williamstown.
Photo by Kate Abbott

The lower loop trail holds long shadows in the late light on an early spring evening at Hopkins Forest in Williamstown.

Events coming up …

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

Ventfort Hall houses the Museum of the Gilded Age in Lenox.
Dec 10 2023 @ 10:00 am
Venfort Hall will hold a juried show of handmade works of art — jewelry, fine woven garments, wood vessels, sculpture, raku pottery, quilts, paintings, photography and more.
Ventfort Hall hangs stockings by the chimney. Photo by Susan Geller
Dec 10 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.
Holiday trains are running on the Hoosac Valley Line. Press image courtesy of Berkshire Scenic Railway.
Dec 10 2023 @ 11:00 am
Santa will be visiting the Berkshires again this year and will join the Hoosac Valley Line's Tinseliner train for Christmas carols and good cheer.

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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