Rather than make you guess, I’m just going to tell you where The Photographer and I are. We are in the Berkshires, escaping the heat of Washington, D.C. for a few days.
Having experimented over the last five years with an efficient, summer vacation wardrobe, I take the same clothes with me for these trips to New England.
My Go Bag includes:
- four sundresses, with an emphasis on Liberty prints;
- white cropped jeans;
- a fitted denim jacket;
- fun sneakers;
- patent leather sandals.
Plus, other stuff (2 pairs of pants, 3 sleeveless tops, a jersey column style dress, athletic sneakers) — the trips is 8 days long.
We are staying in Pittsfield, at a hip hotel — Hotel on North — which puts us in easy striking distance of North Adams, Williamstown, Lenox, and Great Barrington. Pittsfield presents many contrasts with the resort towns to the south and west. Formerly a bustling agricultural hub and light industrial city, Pittsfield saw its fortunes decline after WW2, probably hitting rock bottom in the 1990s. It began a well-deserved renaissance in the 2000s, only to see setbacks in the last year. The Photographer doesn’t know what to make of it, but I like it. I have a soft spot in my heart for New England’s struggling and re-inventing small cities and towns.
For Day 1, The Photographer booked a trip down the Housatonic River.
I packed a change of clothes for our sail and wondered if my Nikes would provide adequate traction on the deck.
I should have known, when The Photographer referred to it as a “float” rather than a “sail,” that I was not in the right headspace. Turns out, our craft was a raft.
Our guide was gobsmacked when I asked for a life-vest because the Housatonic, right now, is only 2-3 feet deep in most spots and the current is just enough to keep the water from being stagnant. Again, how was I to know?
The float was great fun and our gregarious guide was knowledgeable about all the local wildlife. We saw an eaglet and two blue herons. I have decided that The Photographer and I should become birders. This seems like a good interest to cultivate: outdoors, quiet, portable.
As is my custom, I insisted on a downtown walk to see the civic buildings of Pittsfield. These are the courthouses.
Yesterday, we visited the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. Art historians and museum enthusiasts take note: If you haven’t been, it’s worth the trip — regardless of your starting point. This museum was endowed with the fortune and art collection of one of the heirs to the Singer sewing machine family, Sterling Clark, and his wife, Francine. Over several decades, The Clark has grown into a significant research center (in partnership with Williams College) and incubator of contemporary art. The permanent collection is comprised largely of paintings from the late 19th Century and early 20th Century but includes much earlier works. The Clarks’ favorite painters, Winslow Homer and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (an interesting pairing), are heavily represented.
Here is another sundress, previously seen by you in 2019.
Nothing is more comfortable for sightseeing than a full-skirted cotton dress. It packs well, too.
Hot tip: Choose a dress with a print that includes some white and your sloppy sunscreen application won’t show around the neckline and armscyes.
You know how event photographers know not to photograph guests holding drinks? That trick is not just for professionals. Here, I am using my mask to camouflage my Diet Coke.
The cows are barred from wandering into the fountains and parking areas around The Clark by a utilitarian installation work — a fence! — called Teaching A Cow To Draw by Analia Saban.
Different sections of this split rail fence show different techniques for achieving perspective.
We made our reservations through Resy and somehow the site allowed us to book a reservation at Prime Italian Steakhouse* on a Sunday night, when the restaurant is closed on Sundays. Womp-womp.
Asking our hotel at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday night where we could eat that evening without a reservation drew a blank stare, but the clerk rallied and suggested the local Thai restaurant or a restaurant with a Scottish name that serves Italian food. I think the choice was clear.
Vong’s had no seated dining (a pandemic accommodation or cost-saving measure), but allowed takeout customers to sit in their small outdoor seating area. The food was delicious and the staff were extremely gracious.
More soon on our other micro-adventures!
* The name sounds dubious, I know. It’s actually Prime Lenox (subhead: Italian Steakhouse). Does that make it sound better? I’m not sure, but it draws excellent reviews.