Quick moments and signs of brightness — #berkshrieweekend

Someone moved behind me with a rustle and slid into the water. A high voice called softly up the scale, and I caught a glint in the corner of my eye … a suggestion of fur and a splash about the size of a large bullfrog. Would a muskrat be moving in the cattails on a sunny March afternoon?

I was sitting on a kind of causeway with water on either side. The sun was out, and the afternoon was mild enough to feel almost warm. I had come to the Mount to talk with writers in residence in Edith Wharton’s historic house, and when they returned to their stories and poems, I followed the path past the Italian garden and into the trees.

The day felt rare. It’s the bare and muddy season, and the sky was vivid blue. The pathway runs through a stretch of pine and hemlock and maple to the edge of Laurel Lake, with the line of the hills on the far shore.

Then it loops back to the marsh and the pond at the foot of Wharton’s gardens. And for all I’ve been coming here for 20 years, I had never walked the path into the marsh until this afternoon.

The Mount stands on the top of the rise, seen between the pine trees below Edith Wharton's gardens.
Photo by Kate Abbott

The Mount stands on the top of the rise, seen between the pine trees below Edith Wharton's gardens.

The air quivered with bird voices. Some overwinter here, like the nuthatches, but I thought I heard a redwing blackbird, one of the earliest to return in the spring migration.

Cattail fluff drifted and settled on the moss, as though, as Stevie Billow had told me, the birds were pulling the heads of the cattails … for nesting, for seeds, for bugs? Sitting on the rock in the sun, I was thinking that this is a season for paying attention to detail.

After the cold months, spring and color appear in glimpses. The deep red of a dried berry catches my eye, left through the cold, and the soft gametophyte​s of mosses show vividly on the stone. Do they have setas and calyptras this early? I didn’t know those names, while I was looking out over the pond, any more than I knew that muskrats have webbed back feet, or what their lodges look like.

And whoever was talking to me on the path in the heart of the cattail stems has a clear, calling voice I’ve never heard before.

Cattail fluff has blown into moss on the edge of the pond below Edith Wharton's gardens at the Mount in Lenox.
Photo by Kate Abbott

Cattail fluff has blown into moss on the edge of the pond below Edith Wharton's gardens at the Mount in Lenox.

More events coming up …

Berkshire novelist Lara Tupper sits in the sun. Press photo courtesy of the artist
Apr 13 2024 @ 1:00 pm
In celebration of National Poetry Month, awardwinning novelist Lara Tupper will lead a free haiku workshop honoring the natural world, and the group will try their hand at the three-line form.
A local exhibit of poems celebrate the Hoosic River on the suspension bridge at Tourists Welcome in North Adams.
Apr 15 2024 @ 7:30 pm
The Hoosic River Watershed Association invites everyone in the communities along the river to celebrate the waterway and write haiku inspired by the river and its surroundings.
A reader holds Emily Dickinson's poems in the sunlight.
Apr 16 2024 @ 10:00 am
What would happen if a library could hold every book that ever can be written? Everyone is invited to a free, open conversation about the mystical library in Jorge Luis Borges' story, 'The Library of Babel.'

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.

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