Thursday, January 15, 2009

Alphabet of Daily Life - B

B is for...Berkshire County.

We live in a beautiful little corner of the U.S. called Berkshire County. Besides being lovely to look at, it's also considered a cultural mecca of sorts, and we get visitors from all over the world. Here are some of the local attractions we've enjoyed:

Ashuwillticook Rail Trail: we're one of the lucky communities with a Rail Trail, which is an old railroad bed that is paved over for recreational use. These types of trails, which are great for walking, biking, roller blading, are wonderfully smooth and flat, and this one is so scenic. It's our tradition to hike the Trail and stop for a picnic along the way on Mother's Day. I'm determined to learn to roller blade on the trail!

The Colonial Theatre: this is a restored theatre originally built in 1903. It was closed down and hidden for quite some time, boarded up behind an art store (where I used to buy my art supplies for school). It's since been beautifully restored. We went not long ago when my daughter entered a 24-hour film festival, and won 3rd place (on her very FIRST film ever)! The film showing and awards were presented in the Colonial.

Jacob's Pillow: this is a secluded summertime dance festival, featuring dance troupes from all over the world. As a single mom, I've always paid special attention to listings of free events, and the Pillow offers free weekly outdoor performances at their Inside/Out stage - it's really spectacular to watch top dancers on an outdoor stage, with a large blue sky as backdrop, surrounded by beautiful New England woods, while we sit on our picnic blanket enjoying delectable goodies. Sometimes my daughter isn't into the whole "culture" thing; one evening as we were watching an avant-garde dance troupe from Russia, I glanced over and she and her friend were playing a game of cards!

Mass MoCA: this is an old (and large!) electrical factory turned modern art museum that has really gained international acclaim. It's fun to go and just allow the wild modern art to change your perspective. Their really cool gift shop, Hardware, is pretty funky; I've found some of the best gifts there.

Tanglewood: this is a wonderful outdoor concert venue that is also the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Shed is an outdoor pavilion, and Shed seats are coveted but a little costly. I splurge every now and then, and a few years ago, a friend and I were thrilled to sit in on a live broadcast of "Prairie Home Companion," which takes place at Tanglewood once each summer. Lawn tickets are much more affordable, and that's also where the action is. Many people bring elaborate picnics, some even resorting to white linen tablecloths and silver candelabra! My daughter is not a huge fan, but she and her friends did like running around the manicured lawn and grounds when she was younger.

Williamstown Theatre Festival: for several years, we attended WTF's free outdoor performances at Buxton Field, in the woods near the Clark Art Institute. There's a stage in the middle of a grassy area, everyone brings lawn chairs and blankets, and, of course, a picnic. And, while we sit outside in the dusk on a warm summer night (wearing lots of bug spray!), actors put on a lovely performance under the stars. (I haven't been able to find the outdoor performance info for the last couple of years - I hope they're still doing it?)

These are some of our (my) favorites...maybe you'll get to visit some for yourself. If you've already visited some of these, I'd love to hear about your adventures!

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