Strawberry fields forever (June 16 newsletter)

The sun is bright and hot by late morning. We’re standing in the straw between the rows, and my sister is holding her six-week-old daughter and showing her two-and-a-half-year-old son how to feel under the leaves for ripe berries. He has never done this before. Imagine picking strawberries for the first time in your life. For all that’s uncertain and rough right now, we’re here, and the air feels pregnant with possibilities.

This week is many things. It’s the opening of summer plays and art exhibits. It’s the summer solstice. People have always celebrated in the summer dusk, and we still come out for firelight and music, to dance barefoot. It’s rare and exhilarating … and this year it can feel even rarer. We’re beginning to move freely again and sit close enough to touch.

So maybe it makes sense that this week is Bloomsday, the day James Joyce set a love story ending in an all-encompassing yes. It’s the height of Pride Month, and people are coming out to celebrate this week and next. And Saturday is Juneteenth, and for the first time it’s a state holiday — it’s already a federal holiday, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

We have events taking shape. The community will gather with the Berkshire NAACP in Park Square for awards and reflection, and up north Brooklyn multimedia artist Shaun Leonardo is filling his new art installation at Mass MoCA with living energy, with art and dance and spoken word from percussionist and playwright Jason Lucas — you may have heard him perform here over the years with Bang on a Can and Nick Cave.

It’s a week for coming out and coming close and holding life in your hands. And if you’re looking for strawberries, Mountain View Farm in Lanesborough says they’re open.

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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