Vol. II No. 20 10/15/2021
Confessions of a Recovering Urbanite
By Barry Hoffman
There are a number of new people moving to Stockbridge. I am one of them. We have spent a decade of summers renting in the Berkshires for July and August. The virus changed that. We moved here in May and now have a home of our own. Our first, after 75 years, that wasn't part of a building with hundreds of other humans using an elevator to get in and out.
New York is returning to its former self, a well of ambition for the endlessly curious, as polyglot a collection of people as can be found on the face of the earth. Stockbridge, on the other hand, has different qualities that many who live and work here experience every day of their lives; the only danger is that it's all too easy to take for granted.
You have, for instance, lived through four seasons year after year. I haven't, until this last year. Sure, leaves change, snow falls, trees bud in Manhattan as well as in Stockbridge. But here the snow that falls stays white and stays on the ground for weeks on end, turning a walk in the woods into the sounds of snow crunching beneath your boots while a cold wind whips bare-limbed trees whose crooked, skeletal shadows are etched on the white ground by a bright, cold sun. Here, leaves don't just fall. They turn slowly and reach a peak moment that has made this area as famous around the world as the Grand Canyon has made Arizona. You can come to visit them, but unless you are here for the full period, you are missing the slow color shifts from tree to tree, from leaf to leaf.
The great Instagram-able flow of color across the hills is one thing; the detail of tints and intensities at eye level as you hear the crackle of dead leaves under your boots quite another. And then spring bounds in and in about two weeks we are living in a surge of the life force. Almost minute by minute, you can see the buds struggle and inch and then crescendo with orchestral force. Of course, before spring, there is March and April which are nobody's puddles of joy: all wet and dark and often too muddy for happy hiking. But maybe I'm missing something there. We'll see what this year brings.
Photo: Lionel Delevingne.