Take Back The Berkshires

I’ve got a message for all you New Yorkers who’ve been border hopping into Western Massachusetts — we’re taking back the Berkshires. I don’t mean a hostile takeover — we residents of the Commonwealth appreciate the currency infusion you bring us on a regular basis — it’s just that it’s ours, and you guys are hogging all the fun.

The glories of the Boston area are many, unfortunately they wind up tipping the state like a teeter-totter, with the Berkshires stuck up in the air, feet dangling. Convincing folks in Eastern Mass. to make the two hour run westbound on the Pike is inexplicably difficult. A congested drive to the Cape? No problem. A three hour demolition run to the Big Apple? Anytime. A straight-shot to the most magnificent landscapes the state has to offer? Oh, man are you kidding — isn’t that like in Canada or something!

Massachusetts, learn from our wise neighbors in New York State — this is a region that should be savored and celebrated. Having just spent a long weekend out there, let me share some quick highlights and observations.

The view driving North along Route 7 in Williamstown as you look East toward Mount Greylock is nothing short of jaw dropping. Pasture leads to mountains accented by the sky and clouds — it’s almost like the views of New Zealand you see in “The Lord of the Rings” movies. It can’t be duplicated, it has to be experienced.

The Clark Museum in Williamstown. Boston’s MFA can take your breath away, but I have to tell you, if you love art, you’ll have a similar experience at “The Clark.” The collection is exquisite. The painting that struck me the most was an oil on canvas called “Miss Linley and Her Brother” by Thomas Gainsborough. The beauty in the soft features of the faces is hypnotic — and for a work that dates to 1768, the clarity and quality is a wonder to behold. Walking the galleries of “The Clark” is an experience that brings both bliss and sparks the imagination.

Food? There’s a terrific Mexican restaurant called Xicohtencatl (it’s pronounced Shi-Ko-Ten-Cat) in Great Barrington. They use locally grown produce to keep it fresh — make a mole that’s to die for — and if you like Margaritas, the selection of top quality Tequila is awesome. There’s also a charming elder gentleman with a guitar who speaks the most delightful combination of Spanish-Italian-Creole you’ve ever heard. You won’t understand a word he says, but when he sings and plays –you won’t care.

More? Pittsfield is coming back in a big way. I think there’s one State Trooper to patrol the entire length of Route 7 so everyone drives like complete lunatics, but that’s nothing new for us 128 veterans. The whole 24/7 thing doesn’t really hold sway, people seem to appreciate a good night’s sleep, and you’ll be amazed how quickly your Eastern Mass. edge will soften.

Massachusetts, it’s time to open up, lighten up, and wise up — it’s time to take back The Berkshires.

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