The original vacation plan for Summer 2020 called for me to fly from New York City to Barcelona on June 4th. There, I would meet up with my Los Angeles-based sister, and we’d spend two days site-seeing and recovering from jet lag before departing on an adventure-packed, seven-day cruise through the western Mediterranean. Sigh, I fucking love to cruise.
Obviously, those plans changed. In May, our sailing was predictably canceled by the cruise line due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While I was relieved to receive a full-refund on my paid fare — and overjoyed with the bonus of nearly $1,000 in onboard credit for a 2021 rebooking — I was also super bummed to know that I would likely not be getting out of Manhattan this summer. First world problems: they are a thing.
It cannot be overstated then that my summer was miraculously saved by friends who own a home the Berkshires, where they’d been quarantining since March. They generously offered to host me for a week of doing basically what I do in Manhattan — eating and going for walks — but with way better food and immeasurably more awe-inspiring scenery, not to mention (but you can see I am about to) air that smells like honey, and the absence of blaring sirens. It was the best week I’ve had in three months. Please enjoy a selection of photos from my many nature walks taken during the vacation that restored my sanity.
My friends live in a private community accessed from a narrow road set about a mile off of a rural thoroughfare. On summer evenings (during any normal year), you can sometimes hear faint music drifting over from Tanglewood, where I saw a fantastic concert by Squeeze with these same friends last August. Sadly, Tanglewood’s 2020 season has been canceled.
Instead, the soundtrack includes choruses of bullfrogs hiding among the marsh reeds, and a rush of wind through the endless trees that can make you look over your shoulder to confirm that no cars are coming.
This marsh and pond are just across the road from a private beach. There, you can take colorful kayaks out onto a lake, which is called the Stockbridge Bowl.
I could gaze at at this view for hours.
Continue Enjoying the Scenery, After the Jump!
At the top of a hill just north of the lake, there’s a tiny burial ground with no observable signage. Most of the headstones are broken off and inscriptions on those that remain are nearly worn-smooth from time. Still, you can make out a few names, and even dates (going back to the mid-1850s) on select markers.
You don’t have to walk far from the house at all to find yourself in the middle of the forest.
Reflection shots are the best, would you agree?
Enchanted Tree Stump: what magical little creature lives in there?
Don’t forget to look up!
And then look back down again. You don’t want to miss anything.
If you’d like to take a rest, enjoy peace and quiet, and just stare off into the forest, there are benches in the most unexpected places.
Do you like photographing wildflowers? I sure do, and the Berkshires has lots of them!
These pale violet-colored daisies were growing off to the side of the road one day, and I snapped this photo capturing their petals’ fringe-like appearance. When I passed by them the following day they were on their way out, having been noticeably singed by the sun. Beauty is ephemeral.
This is what a Buttercup looks like.
Purple seems to be a popular color this season!
Crimson and clover, over and over.
It seems that the petals of this pinkish flower are meant to look this ‘lacy.’ I think these might be called Bee Balm, but I am not sure.
This flower was technically in someone’s garden, so not terribly ‘wild,’ but beautiful nonetheless.
On my final day in The Berk’s, we made a late afternoon trip to a place called Parsons Marsh Reserve in nearby Lenox. For those who enjoy a rewarding nature walk that does not include climbing over jagged rocks, this place is for you. While social distancing is advised, on the day we visited, we had the place all to ourselves. Sweet.
After walking through a small meadow, you’ll come to this pond with a small dock, though I’m not sure about going in that water. There’s also a covered picnic table, in case you want to “dine out” (ha)! The highlight of Parson’s Marsh though is a 1/3 mile long, easy hiking trail through forested upland and vegetated wetland. The trail begins as a hard-packed, flat walking surface which transitions at 800 feet into a recently-built (2018) raised boardwalk. The path then winds through the forest to an observation platform overlooking, and providimgs open views from, the edge of the marsh.
During your walk, you will see the root systems of plants and trees uncovered by the marsh water level dropping, plus butterflies and bees. Depending on the time or season, your may see birds and other wildlife during your visit.
To me, the roots of this long-fallen tree resemble a pair of elephant’s ears.
Here we are now at the marsh. We saw a red tail hawk fly around a bit but, other than that, it was not the best day for bird-watching. Still, it is not like there is a shortage of sights to capture your breath.
I can’t wait to return to the beautiful Berkshires when my friends will have me again!