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Adventures in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont

MAY/JUNE 2021

Windham County music festivals, businesses look to summer with high hopes 5 things to consider when planning your perfect backyard getaway 5 places to hike, bike, walk or just enjoy a day in the sun An artful collaboration in the Berkshires


TABLE OF CONTENTS

7

Pillows worthy of a frame

4 From the editor 5 Contributors 11 UpCo Homes 47 Photo feature: UpCountry in bloom 54 From the Archives

23

Enjoy your yard even more by adding a patio

37

Will festivals, audiences return this summer?

43

Explore the great outdoors in Bennington

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FROM THE EDITOR

Time has a strange way of sneaking up on you. A year ago, toilet paper, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer were in short supply. Groceries flew off the shelves. Businesses were shuttered; schools transitioned to remote learning; museums and theaters were closed. Masks became mandatory and the phrases “social distancing,” “essential workers” and “new normal” entered our vocabularies. In the last year, we have read many books; watched movies from our living rooms; learned to sew, crochet, knit, bake, cook and garden. Many of us discovered or rediscovered hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and our love for our own backyards. We have virtually visited museums, historic sites, listened to musicians and watched baby zoo animals discover the world. In the last year, we have lost so much. We have lost over 562,000 Americans (over 2.9 million worldwide) to COVID-19 (as of April). We have seen restaurants and businesses close their doors for good. We have mourned and grieved together. We have helped each other in times of need. In the coming year, may we honor all that has been lost by embracing all we have gained: new skills, new passions, new friends and loved ones. Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you soon, as we adjust to a new “new normal.” Jennifer Huberdeau, Editor jhuberdeau@berkshireeagle.com

Publisher Fredric D. Rutberg

frutberg@berkshireeagle.com

Vice President Jordan Brechenser

jbrechenser@berkshireeagle.com

Executive Editor Kevin Moran

kmoran@berkshireeagle.com

Editor Jennifer L. Huberdeau

jhuberdeau@berkshireeagle.com

Proofreaders Margaret Button Lindsey Hollenbaugh Tim Jamiolkowski Art Director Kimberly Kirchner

kkirchner@berkshireeagle.com

Regional Advertising Managers Berkshire County, Mass.: Kate Teutsch kteutsch@berkshireeagle.com

Bennington County, Vt.: Susan Plaisance

splaisance@manchesterjournal.com

Windham County, Vt.: Lylah Wright lwright@reformer.com

UpCountry Magazine is a publication of New England Newspapers Inc.

On the Cover: A woman relaxes on the edge of Lake Shaftsbury in Shaftsbury, Vt. Photo by Caroline Bonnivier Snyder

4 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | May/June 2021


CONTRIBUTORS

Cherise Forbes [“Explore the great outdoors in Bennington,” page 43] is an independent writer, photographer, and designer based out of Southern Vermont. She currently serves as Communications and Marketing Manager for The BOMA Project, a non-profit organization empowering women entrepreneurs affected by climate change. Jennifer Huberdeau [“Pillows worthy of a frame,” page 7] is editor of UpCountry magazine. She also pens the column “Mysteries from the Morgue” for The Berkshire Eagle.

Bald Mountain in Bennington, Vt. offers sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. Story, page 43. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

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Pillows worthy of a frame Accent your home with this brightly colored collection from Annie Selke and Cynthia Wick

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Cynthia Wick. All photos courtesy of The Annie Selke Companies

By Jennifer Huberdeau LENOX, Mass.

Cynthia Wick is not afraid to change the color of her living space. It’s something she does on a regular basis. And she isn’t afraid of big, bold colors. “My sister asked me, ‘How can you just decide to paint a wall turquoise?’” she said during a recent interview. “I’m always painting a wall a different color. If I’m avoiding the studio, I paint a wall in the house a different color.” Vibrant, bold colors are Wick’s signature; her abstract paintings are collages of shapes, color and light. Each is a mosaic crafted with layers of acrylic and oil paint, and bold brushstrokes. She is hoping a new collaboration of home furnishings with The Annie Selke Companies will bring color, as well as her paintings, into homes across the country. This spring, The Annie Selke Companies launched The Cynthia Wick Collection, which includes 10 pillows featuring Wick’s paintings and a collection of eight fine art prints. The pillows, priced at $70 and up, come in a variety of sizes and materials — some are printed digitally onto dense, smooth, cotton felts, while others are printed on linen-like 8 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | May/June 2021


This spread: Decorative pillows from The Annie Selke Companies feature the art of Cynthia Wick, including (clockwise from top left) Into the Woods; Through the Trees; Topiary Felt Embroidered; Pink House; Little House; and Rainforest Canopy

performance fabrics woven with pet- and spill-proof yarns. “Bringing what I love to customers has always been my mission and sharing Cynthia’s genius eye for color and exuberant painting style is a thrill and an honor,” Annie Selke, president and chief vision officer of The Annie Selke Companies, said in a prepared statement. “Her work hangs very happily in my house and her friendship lives very happily in my heart.” Selke approached Wick about a collaboration after seeing her show of abstract landscapes and flowers, “Cynthia Wick: The Shape of Color,” at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in 2019. “Annie saw the paintings and just flipped for them; as an artist alone in a studio, you never know how people are going to react to your work,” Wick said. “It was wonderful for me, because I trust her taste so implicitly. Annie is so dynamic and has a great eye for color. I never thought of translating existing paintings to textiles.” The pillows, she said, are a “connected vision”: “I had a vision to make the paintings, and Annie had the vision to put my work on fabric. It’s wonderful to connect with another creative person.” Wick hopes the pillows, inspired by the woods and landscapes around her home in Lenox, will motivate others to be brave and incorporate more color in their homes and lives. “People tend to be really fearful of color,” she said. “What I love about this collection is that people — who haven’t thought a lot about color and have very neutral colors in their living spaces — are bringing color into their homes. “I hope that this collection will inspire our inner artists to take a risk — paint a wall a color you adore from one of the pillows — and reinvent how we see our own living spaces.” To order, visit annieselke.com/c/the-cynthia-wick-collection •

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Sponsored Content 

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SPONSORED CONTENT

Pittsfield Cooperative Bank ready to give Berkshires a $50M boost A Q&A with CEO J. Jay Anderson about the state of the residential and commercial lending at his community-minded institution

Pittsfield Cooperative Bank President and CEO J. Jay Anderson says his institution has $50 million to lend. Find out more at pittsfieldcoop.com. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

12 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | May/June 2021

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By Noah Hoffenberg PITTSFIELD, Mass. You need a loan, and Pittsfield Cooperative Bank has $50 million to lend. Whether you’re looking to refinance or buy your first home, or expand, start or solidify your business in the wake of the pandemic, a loan is just a quick conversation and some paperwork away, says bank President and CEO J. Jay Anderson. Anderson says his local bank is flush with cash, like most financial institutions that are safeguarding stimulus checks and government-funded and pandemic-related loans. “One of the problems we have right right now is that the industry is flooded with liquidity. We have $33 million in overnight money, cash that we put in an account with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and it’s earning very little interest,” says Anderson. “My contention is that a lot of the PPP (Payroll Protection Plan) money has not left the banking system. We need to figure out a way to open it up.” Anderson says this money is better-suited for use right now by people and businesses that need it. UpCountry recently spoke with Anderson about the state of the lending market, in this first of three sponsored articles that will also look closely at the residential and commercial loan markets as they stand, according to Pittsfield Cooperative Bank.

Q: How are Payroll Protection Program loans handled through Pittsfield Cooperative Bank? J. JAY ANDERSON: The Small Business Administration oversees the PPP loans. This is bank money that is set aside for those businesses that we give to; it’s not the government’s money. What the SBA says is, Sponsored Content 

“We’re going to promise that if you do A, B, C, that we will reimburse the bank for that money and forgive the customer of that obligation.”

Q: PPP loans aside, you’re in need of some other loan applicants, as well? JA: You got it. We need to make loans. We’re sitting on about $50 million dollars that we’d like to lend in the Berkshires.

Q: Who are some of the ideal recipients? JA: Anyone that’s growing and needs capital. If you’re going to grow in business, there’s multiple needs. You could be carrying larger amounts of accounts receivable, which creates a financing need. Just because you make a sale that day, doesn’t mean you collect the cash that day. The more sales you make, the more cash you have to carry. If you’re expanding, looking for equipment or vehicles, there’s a variety of different asset classes that banks are good at financing.

Q: What’s the range of dollar amounts that you can loan out for an individual or business? JA: We have a comfort level of about $5 million for a loan that we would do. It covers about 92 percent of Berkshire businesses.

Q: What’s your take on how interest rates look for interested people or businesses? JA: It’s still a really good time to borrow money. People get caught up looking at historical averages, but we are way under typically what they have been. However, they have gone up a little over the last 100 days.

Bank CEO also leads PERC, helping feed the region’s economic engine Since the pandemic began, Pittsfield Cooperative Bank CEO J. Jay Anderson has been helping the community stay afloat during the pandemic via loans, forgivable and otherwise, as well as deferments on other loan products. Anderson also helps provide direct loans and access to a variety of public loan programs through his additional role as president of the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp., a nonprofit agency helping Berkshire County businesses that are unable to obtain conventional financing. He says, during the pandemic thus far, PERC processed, reviewed and approved 77 applications to “Pittsfield businesses that really needed it. All sorts of different sectors: Dry cleaners were impacted, garbage pickup, hair salons were closed. I think we forget the economic impact, particularly on these small business owners.” Today, PERC has 21 applications in the works for a new round of funding. “These people really needed the help,” says Anderson. “For yourself, for your customers, your community, you’re keeping alive entities that are paying federal and state taxes. It’s good when we can save these businesses, because we know they’ll do good later on.”

Residential mortgage rates have gone up; commercial borrowing rates have gone up. I think the stimulus has pushed rates up a little bit. Experts are worried that it could bring on some inflation. The 10-year treasury for example has gone from .90 to 1.7 over the last three months. If you look at it from a percentage basis, it’s almost double.

Q: A year since the pandemic broke out, are you seeing a lot of people leaving urban centers, seeking mortgages and moving to the Berkshires?

JA: On the residential side, we are clearly seeing an increase of folks coming out of the city, particularly in South County, and purchasing some pretty expansive real estate in our community. Sitting on a couple regional boards, I also know that’s happened in Maine, north of Boston, New Hampshire, Vermont. All of New England has directly benefited from that, and I’m not sure we’re going to see that slow down. I think what’s different about 2021 versus 2001, is that the technology has advanced to a point where people can truly work in the Berkshires, and maybe go into the city once a week. I think that is going to be a trend. Folks are starting to figure out the UpCountryOnline.com | 13


“I think we’re doing a good job of understanding the customer, the problems they have and then their ability to get out of their problem. I think that’s what separates a community bank from a large regional bank.” — J. Jay Anderson, President and CEO, Pittsfield Cooperative Bank

quality of life that we are lucky enough to have. On the commercial side, folks I’ve talked to have been really busy, once they got through the downturn last March, particularly in areas of home improvement. I think car sales have been good. Business in general, from June 2020 to today, has been really strong. I really like what I see, especially a lot of young people with some fantastic ideas, who are really smart and who want to live here.

Q: How’s the volume of residential lending compared to years prior? JA: 2020 was the most mortgages we’ve done in the history of the bank. It wouldn’t surprise me if the other institutions were saying the same thing. Between people coming into the area, and people refinancing because rates were so low, it’s just exploded. We’re seeing the effects of that in Pittsfield, Dalton, Lanesborough. We’re seeing houses going on the market and selling quickly over the asking price, in amounts we’ve never seen before. Knock

on wood, I hope it continues. But I think it bodes very well from a bank standpoint, a tax standpoint and overall in the community.

Q: And you can serve all of Berkshire County? What about neighboring counties in nearby states? JA: We’ve gotten to help customers in northwestern Connecticut and the border communities in New York. We’re not bound by our charter to just stay in Berkshire County. We go wherever people need us.

Q: On the commercial side, was your clientele hit hard by the pandemic, or have they seemed to be weathering the storm? JA: We’ve seen some difficult times for some of our commercial customers. Anyone associated with the hospitality industry, restaurants, bars, entertainment, the cultural venues, they rely on being open in the season. We’ve certainly seen them all impacted.

14 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | May/June 2021

We made the very early decision to help our customers, because this is something that nobody ever expected. We put a very large portion of our commercial and residential loan portfolio on deferments very early on. As you can guess, it’s painful to us because we don’t get the interest. But at that point in time, it really didn’t matter. We were in good enough financial shape to be able to weather the storm on our side, and we needed to share that with the customer base. We offered them principal and interest deferrals for 90 days. We did it again at the outset of this year. Our customer base has been extremely grateful, understanding what we did.

Q: For those customers who are having trouble with those allowances or deferment, would you say that the bank is still working with them to keep them solvent? JA: Absolutely. We are going through our overdue loan accounts one by one to make sure we understand the circumstances of each particular case by case. I’m sure there are going to be some casualties along the way, but I think we’re doing a

good job of understanding the customer, the problems they have and then their ability to get out of their problem. I think that’s what separates a community bank from a large regional bank.

Q: On that note, what do you see as your role in the community? JA: All the local bank presidents, we work together on certain things, we’ve collaborated to make a greater impact in the community, so I know they feel the same way I do. We always said, “This is the way we behave and the way we act.” Our foreclosures on residential homes are drastically lower than other organizations, particularly the bigger, larger institutions. Our business delinquencies, repossessions are extremely lower. We know that. The pandemic was an opportunity for us to really show it. Fortunately for us, to be led by a board of directors that has the same vision, this was our time to show what we can do, and begin to show the difference we are from other institutions. I’m very proud of how the staff executed the way they did during a pandemic, and we were still able to do what’s most important, which is take care of our customers. I think that is our duty. •

Pittsfield Cooperative Bank locations Pittsfield

Great Barrington

70 South St. 413-447-7304

325 Main St. 413-528-2840

110 Dalton Ave. 413-395-9626

Hinsdale — ATM

Dalton

16 Maple St. 413-447-7304

431 Main St. 413-684-1551

Find out more at pittsfieldcoop.com

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63 Blythewood Drive, Pittsfield, Mass. 5 bedrooms • 5.5 baths • 7,754 sq. ft. • $1,300,000

Stunning Contemporary located in the private enclave of Blythewood Estates. Expert craftsmanship and attention to detail grace this meticulously well maintained 5 bedroom, 5.5 bath home. The dramatic two story primary bedroom suite offers direct access to pool. A floor to ceiling stone fireplace graces the living room, and the newly renovated lower level offers theatre, gym, and gaming space. Whether working from home or entertaining friends and family in style, you will delight in the abundance of interior spaces. The fabulous backyard oasis features a patio surrounding the large heated inground pool, brand new separate patio and 2 new fire pit areas. The BONUS heated 50’ x 60’ outbuilding with 4 bays and large overhead doors are perfect for any car/boat/RV enthusiast. THIS HOME HAS IT ALL!

More information: Victoria Standring Broker Associate 413.822.5363 Direct 16 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | May/June 2021

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Cape Envy 24 Longview Road, Lanesborough, Mass.  $215,000

If you dream of nightly sunsets and mountain views, an expansive backyard with raised bed gardens and large storage/potting shed, then this 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath home on a dead end street may be just what you are looking for! Featuring hardwood floors, great natural light, first floor bedroom and full bath, plus a spacious basement with high ceilings, laundry, exercise area, and updated electric, furnace, and on demand hot water. Fully fenced front and rear yards, spacious deck, lovely perennials and a large driveway. With easy access to Route 7, this is a home sweet home indeed.

23 South Carolina Ave., Pittsfield, Mass.  $205,000 This adorable Allendale Cape features 3 bedrooms and 1 bath, lovely curb appeal, large back yard with new gardens, a playset, and a fire pit area, and a simply fantastic deck to enjoy the mountain views, a one car garage, and a carport. First floor offers a mudroom/entry with coat closet and space for a perfect Pottery Barn like storage/seating area. Nice sized living room with open staircase to second floor, two bedrooms (both with hardwood floors), newly renovated bathroom, and a kitchen overlooking deck and yard. Upstairs is the spacious primary bedroom with separate dressing room or home office space, and a walk in closet. The unfinished walkout basement has a workbench area, laundry room, and plenty of storage space, garage and carport access.

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More information: Victoria Standring Broker Associate 413.822.5363 Direct UpCountryOnline.com | 17


54 Staver Road, Marlboro, Vt. 4 bed • 3.5 bath • 4,500 sq. ft. • $520,000

Just under 30 minutes to Mount Snow and 15 minutes to the artsy town of Brattleboro, this Marlboro, Vt. getaway is convenient and accommodating, featuring a bright, spacious floor plan and open concept living. A chef ’s kitchen boasts stainless appliances, breakfast bar and walkin pantry. The light filled living

room has lovely hardwood floors and a gorgeous stone fireplace, perfect for warming up on a cold day or getting cozy with a good book. The main level continues on with a library, huge laundry room and a sauna. A covered/ enclosed screened porch plus a large deck are perfect for relaxing or entertaining in the warmer

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months. Upstairs you’ll find 2 large bedrooms connected by a bath, a master bedroom with ensuite bath and a media room. A main level wing offers a separate area with sleeping accomodations, a living room, kitchenette and bath. Additionally, there is a spacious office, bonus room, rear deck with hot tub and a 2-car ga-

rage. Property is also licensed as a B and B. The land offers a 2-stall horse barn, pond, berry bushes, apple trees, and perennial and vegetable gardens. South Pond, the Marlboro Music Festival and school choice all make Marlboro a great town to live in and enjoy from this exceptional property. $520,000 • MLS # 4852681

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215 Stowe Hill, Wilmington, Vt. 4 bed • 2.5 bath • 3,950 sq. ft. • $650,000

Spacious contemporary farmhouse on 14.7 private acres with mountain views, conveniently only 2 miles out of the center of the country village of Wilmington for shopping and dining, and 10 minutes from Mount Snow. This home sits nestled back off a private driveway on the stunning Stowe Hill Road, in a pastoral

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setting with large pond, stream, and large adjacent parcels affording a true Vermont retreat setting. There is direct access to hiking and biking trails as well as nearby access to Lake Raponda and Harriman Reservoir. The interior of this country home features an open concept floor plan with sizeable living room,

den with fireplace, dining area, and vaulted country kitchen with bright breakfast nook. There is a large family room for entertaining and overflow above the 2 car garage. The upstairs has a large master suite overlooking the mountain views, and two large guest bedrooms with walk-in closets. There is a lower level play

room as well as a huge partially finished bunk room without current legal egress. The property has a large barn for toy storage, with a spacious walkout loft in the upper level, a garden shed, hot tub on the deck, fire pit and more. A great getaway from the hustle and bustle. $650,000 • MLS # 4852157

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3880 Augur Hole Road, Marlboro, Vt. 3 bedrooms • 2.5 baths • 2,607 sq. ft. • 3.5 acres • $500,000 Picture yourself in Vermont! Crisp clear winter days with trees turned to diamonds and fluffy snow banks all your own! As the seasons turn, you will experience the green coming to life and find yourself surrounded by blossoms framed by stone walls, the babbling brook and the sweet sounds of birds. Fall brings a palette of beautiful color, cool breezes, harvest moons and wonderful evenings at home. Here in your Vermont home, you will enjoy open concept living for fun parties (they will be back), a sleeping loft with extra large skylights, a cathedral-ceilinged post and beam great room, with an open kitchen, living room and dining area to enjoy happy holiday events with the family and friends. On the same floor is a spacious master bedroom with en suite bath, charming office area and versatile room for studio or exercise. This could also be a fabulous home for aging in place. The full front glass lower level also has lovely views and offers another full living level — kitchen, bedrooms, bath — and could possibly serve as a caretaker, nanny, mother-in-law, AirBnB or fully equipped work from home office/studio. The primary floor studio is amazing with light everywhere. Picnic in the screened out building all summer long, roll up your pants and wade in the brook, or slide and tumble in the snow! This is a must see for your new gentle life in Vermont. With the new age of business, you can choose your lifestyle. Choose this one!  MLS #4850466

More information: Christine Lewis, CRS, CBR, GRI

Brattleboro Area Realty Cell: 802-380-2088 Office: 802-257-1335 Chris@BrattleboroAreaRealty.com

20 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | May/June 2021

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9 Fort Dummer Heights, Brattleboro, Vt. 4 bedrooms • 2.5 baths • 2,256 sq. ft. • 0.53 acres • $389,000 Surprise! This home has so much to offer, you have to see it to appreciate all the thought and love that has packed into the design and creation of just the right spaces for great living. Are you a cook? Do you love to entertain ... it will come again! The kitchen was designed by a baker with bread, cookies and pies in mind with large countertops for rolling and cooling, a pantry for food and appliance storage and electricity to the island for easy appliance use! The laundry lives in it’s own home right off the kitchen...easy access..close the door and it disappears. There is a potential 1st floor bedroom with a bath if you are looking for aging in place. And, a huge living room for movie nights. Outside is as wonderful as in with a full front farmer’s porch and a huge sunny deck, you pick. Lovely established gardens greet you every time you come home. Love to tinker? One of the garage bays has been turned into a workshop with lots of benches and tool storage area. Just down the dead end road from Fort Dummer State park, this home is a must see for the quality and condition, location and just plain livability!  MLS #4837329

More information:

Christine Lewis, CRS, CBR, GRI

Brattleboro Area Realty Cell: 802-380-2088 * Office: 802-257-1335 Chris@BrattleboroAreaRealty.com

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Enjoy your yard even more by adding a patio 5 things to consider when planning your perfect backyard getaway By Jennifer Huberdeau

Did you contemplate upgrading your backyard last summer, only to find that patio materials were scarce to non-existent? If so, you’re not alone. “With everyone staying home because of COVID, there was an uptick in demand for patios and, halfway through the season, suppliers ran out of pavers,” said Dean Maynard, founder/owner of Maynard Landscape and Design in Lanesborough, Mass. The demand is expected to be just as great this summer, but supplies are expected to be able to keep pace this time around. “We’re expecting another great year,” Maynard said. But, as with any home improvement project, there are a number of items that need to be considered before work can get underway. Before heading out to your local landscape and design center, here are a few details to think about:

This page: Photos courtesy of Metro Creative Connection

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1. Size matters There’s no one-size-fitsall approach to patios, says Chris Millerick, of WW Building Supply in Wilmington, Vt. “It really depends on the individual situation,” he said. “Some people want a square patio, some want circular. It can be as small as an 8-by-8foot square.” But if you’re looking to

use your patio as an outdoor dining space, Maynard says the bare minimum is a 10-by-10-foot or 12-by-12foot patio. “Most of what we do is either 13-by-13-feet or 14-by14-feet; which allows for a good-size table and five to six chairs,” he said. Knowing what size patio you’re looking to install, and

the shape of the patio, will be helpful throughout the early design stages. “Whether you’re buying the materials yourself or you’re working with a contractor, knowing the size ahead of time is going to help you estimate the cost of materials. Pavers are not cheap,” Maynard said.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to the material you use to build your patio, from stamped concrete to traditional concrete pavers. Photo courtesy of Metro Creative Connection.

2. Location is more important than you think “The biggest thing people worry about, whether it’s a patio or a firepit is, ‘Where are we going to put it? Should it be next to the pool? Next to the house?’” Millerick said. The location of a patio is important when considering

aesthetics, convenience and the overall budget. “In the backyard, we suggest that the patio is somewhat close to the house. When you’re carrying a tray of food out, you don’t want to walk too far with it,” Maynard said.

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But, he warns, putting a patio too close to a house that is two stories or more can also be problematic — the building will seem like it’s looming over you. Plants and lighting are also important. Putting plantings or some type of landscaping be-

tween the patio and a building will soften the aesthetics. “You also want to consider placing a patio where it will catch the afternoon sun,” Maynard said. “Most people spend their afternoons and evenings out on the patio.”


3. It’s not as simple as laying a few bricks There’s a lot to consider when it comes to the material you use to build your patio, from stamped concrete to traditional concrete pavers. “Concrete pavers come in a variety of styles and sizes,” Maynard said. “There’s bluestone and also rustic Goshen stone. We hardly use red brick

anymore because the cost is significantly higher.” Concrete pavers, Millerick said, have a compressive strength of 8,000 pounds per square inch, making the dense concrete very durable. And, concrete pavers come in a variety of shapes. “They can be designed to

look like stone. They come in blended colors; different sizes in the different palettes and different designs,” he said. “There are so many different choices. When working with clients, I can say to them, here are the pluses to this choice or these might be the advantages/ disadvantages of this choice.”

4. Keep construction costs in mind Will the contractor have direct access to your yard? Or will they have to transport items via a wheelbarrow? A seemingly simple detail like this can impact your overall budget, driving up costs unexpectedly. “There is a lot of prep work that goes into the laying of the pavers, so they stay in place and don’t move,” Millerick said. “If

you see a patio or walkway that is wavy, it means the base wasn’t properly laid.” Typically, Maynard says, a proper base for a patio requires the removal of about 3 to 4 tons of soil for an 8- to 10-inchdeep base with a pitch of 3 to 5 percent for drainage. The base is typically filled with a layer of sand and gravel,

on which the pavers are set. A stone edge needs to be laid to keep the pavers from moving. “Once everything is done, the joints need to be filled. We recommend polymeric sand,” Millerick said. “It’s an added expense, but when it hardens, it prevents weeds and ants from taking root between the pavers.”

Pavers and stone can range in price, from inexpensive to very expensive. Concrete pavers can range from $3 to $15 per square foot, before labor costs; which can be $25 to $35 per square foot or more depending on the location and required work.

Concrete pavers can make or break your project budget. Photo courtesy of Metro Creative Connections.

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Locate a firepit or grill downwind, so smoke won’t filter into the house. Photo courtesy of Metro Creative Connection

5. Design with function in mind A firepit can be as simple or as fancy as a homeowner wants it to be, but make sure your design keeps its main purpose in mind — socializing in front of a fire. “I recommend putting it on the edge of the patio space,” Maynard said. “If you put it in the middle of your patio, you use up all the space and won’t have room for a table or anything else when you’re not using it.” By putting it on the edge of the patio, guests can have a choice of sitting on the patio

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or out on the lawn. “It’s a great way to get out, sit around and enjoy the evening,” he said And remember, a firepit’s location is just as important as that of the patio. “Make sure your fire pit is downwind,” Maynard says, “so the fire isn’t blowing smoke back into the house. This applies to any firepit or grill.” You’ll also want to make sure the location adheres to local fire code regulations and not set under any structures with roofs, hoods or canopies.

Knowing what kind of firepit you are interested in ahead of time also can speed up the design process. And you’ll want to figure out how much you’re willing to spend. A simple, yet safe, firepit kit, Millerick said, can cost a few hundred dollars. Fancier kits, mortarless designs or custom-designed firepits that incorporate stonework can cost hundreds more. “It comes down to what people are looking for — square or round; simple or more involved, ” he said. •


A DAY IN THE LIFE OF LENOX

Togetherness keeps Lenox afloat during past year Sense of community, rich culture gives classic New England town its homey, and yet gilded, feel By Noah Hoffenberg LENOX, Mass. At the heart of Berkshire County is Lenox. From here, one can access the entire region with ease. But, the question begs, why would you leave town, when everything you want is already here? The town, after all, has been called home by such notable residents such as James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma and Maureen Stapleton, and families like the Carnegies, Astors and Vanderbilts. A community institution and supporter, Lee Bank recently asked us to take a closer look at Lenox, for this first installment A Day in the Life of …, a bimonthly UpCountry series that highlights what makes Berkshire County’s 32 towns such special places to visit, shop, work and live.

‘Small-town feel’ A resident of town for more than 28 years, Suzanne Merritt, owner of Lenox Fit, says she and other families came to Lenox as visitors and stayed for very specific reasons.

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“I think everyone is looking for a version of the same thing, which is a small town, a protected feeling, a safe environment, where everybody knows everybody,” says Merritt. “People who live here seem to really look out for one another.” Merritt grew up in a town just outside New York City, which was isolating despite the large number of residents. “Living down in that area with such a huge population, it boosts a sense of anonymity, whereas up here you get a much more community-oriented feel,” Merritt says. At no time was that more apparent than the pandemic, she says, when caring was on full display between the community and the businesses that call Lenox home.

‘A lot of bang for your buck’ Jennifer Nacht, director of the Lenox Chamber of Commerce, says the town’s central location and concentrated downtown are an attractant for many visitors. “The downtown is three blocks that's completely walkable. Within a quarter mile, there’s Ventfort Hall, there are shops, there are restaurants, there are parks, there are trails,” says Nacht. “You get a lot of bang for your buck when you visit Lenox.” In addition to being home to Ventfort, a mansion and Gilded Age museum, Nacht says the town is an incredible mix of venues, from the larger, such as

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Tanglewood, Shakespeare and Co., and Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount, to the smaller, as with Sohn Fine Art and the Pumphrey Gallery. “Even though we've got Wi-Fi and people are driving Teslas, we still have the charm,” she says.

‘Everybody knows your name’

Tina Bartini has been the area manager for the Lenox and Pittsfield offices of Lee Bank for the past year and half, working out of the Lenox branch for the past six. L enox is a town like “Cheers,” the classic 1980s sitcom “where everybody knows your name,” says Bartini. Her clients are rarely strangers, and newcomers quickly become friends. “It just makes you love your job.” A Berkshire native, daughter of a Lee mill worker and former resident of Lenox, Bartini says her bank is both a responsible community member and builder, helping Lenox thrive and remain a top place to visit in the Berkshires, says Bartini. The hope is that some of its many visitors will want to move here. “I want to make this area so that people can come back here and actually live,” says Bartini.

‘Local decision making … will never go away’ Lee Bank President Chuck Leach says his bank is, by design, part of the fabric of the local community.

“I think that’s been forgotten somewhere along the way by most banks, which have pursued a model of scale,” says Leach. “The local decision making, the relationship aspect, the hands-on give and take will never go away.” Inherent in the bank’s relationship with Lenox is economic development, says Leach, which it infuses into Lenox via commercial and municipal lending, sponsorships, volunteerism and philanthropy, through its new charitable arm, The Lee Bank Foundation. Being able to give money to Lenox recipients is wonderful, notes Leach, but “the secret sauce that enables community building is people.” “Other banks offer more commodities. Our point of differentiation is the people, people like Tina and the teams that she manages, and our customers within the community.”

‘I just feel like I’m home’

For local business owner Merritt, the welcoming feel of her town has always drawn her back to the green hills of Western Massachusetts, no matter where her journey took her. “I’ve traveled all over the world, and nothing feels better than coming home to Lenox in the Berkshires,” says Merritt. “I just feel like I'm home when I'm here.” Visit these fine locations in Lenox, just south of Pittsfield and north of Lee, at the junction of routes 7A and 183 … Sponsored Content


Berkshire Classic Leather and Silver 74 Main St. • berkshireclassic.com berkshireclassic@gmail.com Facebook: berkshireclassic Instagram: berkshireclassic

BERKSHIRE CLASSIC LEATHER AND SILVER

About us: Leather and silver are just the beginning. You will discover a shiny, new assortment of handbags, wallets, hats, artisan sterling jewelry and accessories to snap up your spring. We have travel items and unique gifts for every season. If you already shop at Berkshire Classic, you know what an array of desirable goods are offered. If you’ve never been in the shop, you will wonder what took you so long. Come visit as we celebrate 23 joyous years of serving the best customers in the world.

Casablanca 50 Church St. • 413-637-2680 casabgroup.com/Stores/_casablanca/ casablancalenox@hotmail.com Facebook: CasablancaLenox Instagram: casablancalenox

CASABLANCA

About us: We are open seven days a week, fully stocked for your spring and summer 2021 clothing and fashion accessories. Labels such as Margiela, Issey Miyake, MaxMara, Escada, Missoni, Robert Graham, Planet and more. We have a 35-year history of bringing the best designer clothing and accessories for women and men. Knowledgeable staff in a beautiful contemporary setting. We look forward to seeing you.

Firefly Gastropub and Catering Co. 71 Church St. • 413-637-2700 Fireflylenox.com Facebook: Fireflygastropub Instagram: Fireflygastropub About us: We’re under new ownership but have the same great management, plus a new and exciting menu. There’s live music on the weekends, and no reservations necessary. Firefly is a community-oriented eatery and a great place to host your holiday parties; we also have a private room available. It’s an upscale-casual atmosphere and features craft cocktails, served over a beautiful double-sided bar. We have front porch dining, too. Dinner is served daily from 5 p.m.

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The Gifted Child 72 Church St. • 413-637-1191 theGiftedChild.net reagifted@yahoo.com Facebook: theGiftedchild1 Instagram: thegiftedchild413

THE GIFTED CHILD

About us: We’re a small-scale boutique department store for kids, with clothing, a curated toy selection for all ages, puzzles, games and books, shoes, outerwear, sleepwear and swimwear. We have it all, from classics to the latest and greatest, lots of fun stuff for kids! We have been refreshing our displays and will have a refurbished sale barn in May … lots of fun toys and gifts and a great selection of clothing and gear for newborns to tweens. Need a gift? We do personal shopping by phone or photos. Call us, and we’ll put something together and ship it out — you don’t have to leave your house!

Glendale Brook Studio 27 Church St. (shop left) • 413-551-7475 glendalebrookstudio.com glendalebrookstudio@gmail.com Instagram: glendalebrookstudio

GLENDALE BROOK STUDIO JANET PUMPHREY GALLERY

About us: Maybe you would love to own a Matisse, but you either can’t afford an original Matisse or don’t feel like spending $17 million. Instead, you can own a work of original art in your home or business that has the air of a Matisse but also offers something new. It’s a big step up from museum posters, and it is very special to have original art in your home instead of copies. We have hundreds of colorful hard-edge abstract paintings. We invite you to examine our collection, and we welcome your feedback. Our doors are open to everyone who values the excitement of an artful journey.

Janet Pumphrey Gallery 17 Housatonic St. • 413-637-2777 JanetPumphrey.com JHPumphrey@gmail.com Facebook: janet.pumphrey Instagram: janetpumphrey About us: Last year, I opened my new gallery in June, and, because the pandemic got worse, I closed it at the end of October. During those five months, most of the visitors were tourists, and many had never been to the Berkshires before. All said they would be back after the cultural venues returned, so I am looking forward to a booming tourist business this summer and fall. I want local folks to know that I am open again, and I hope that they come — many for the first

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time. I am also hopeful of having a real re-opening reception in the early summer. In my photography, I consider inherent, traditional realism as a starting point, and I appreciate the ability to manipulate a photograph through the artistic imagery available both in-camera and in post-processing by turning what was a realistic photograph into a creative work of art. My work is painterly, sometimes impressionistic, sometimes abstract.

LEE BANK

Lee Bank 450 Pittsfield Lenox Road • 413-499-9922 leebank.com tbartini@leebank.com Facebook: LeeBankMA Instagram: lee_bank_ma About us: Lee Bank is an independent community bank that has grown to serve the wider Berkshire County region. Each day, we empower our employees, customers and community in their work and play. We help our neighbors buy homes, start and maintain businesses, build and renovate, make wise investments and help others in need. Our customers’ confidence in Lee Bank has enabled us to re-invest at least 5 percent of our annual earnings directly back into our area’s nonprofit organizations and ultimately led to the establishment of the Lee Bank Foundation. So, your business with us supports our partnership with our community, during good times and challenging times. From free rewards checking accounts to online and mobile services, we’re committed to making your banking life as easy as possible. We offer all banking services, including personal and business loans, private banking and trust services. Lee Bank is Member FDIC/Member DIF.

LENOX CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Lenox Chamber of Commerce 4 Housatonic St. • 413-637-3646 lenox.org info@lenox.org Facebook: LenoxChamber Instagram: visitlenox About us: Check out our weekly events, like our Farmers Market from May 28 to Oct. 1; our Spring Art Walk from June 5 to July 6; LenoxLovesMusic!, live music on Sundays in May and June at 3:30 p.m. at the Dining Terrace on Church Street; and our Fall Art Walk on Sept. 18 and 19. When you visit, take advantage of Kennedy Park, endless outdoor recreation and walking trails.

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The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home 2 Plunkett St. • 413-551-5111 EdithWharton.org info@edithwharton.org Facebook: TheMountLenox Instagram: TheMountLenox

THE MOUNT

About us: The Mount is the picturesque country home designed and built by author Edith Wharton. Wharton wrote many of her best-known works here, including “Ethan Frome” and “The House of Mirth.” Tours of the mansion can be booked online at our website. Our extensive grounds and gardens are wonderful for exploring. The outdoor cafe overlooks the gardens, and serves seasonal and local fare. We are hosting a variety of outdoor events this season, including lectures, music and dance. Please visit EdithWharton.org to stay up-to-date on all our programs.

Nejaime’s Wine Cellars 60 Main St. • 413-637-2221 nejaimeswine.com info@nejaimeswine.com Facebook: NejaimesWine Instagram: nejaimeswinecellar

NEJAIME’S WINE CELLARS

About us: We offer dynamic selections of hardto-find whisky, organic wines, craft brews, ciders and artisanal cheeses. Walk-in shopping, curbside pick-up and delivery service and a knowledgeable staff who can help you find what you’re looking for. A convenient location in Lenox, with a second in nearby Stockbridge (3 Elm St., Stockbridge, 413-298-3454), with both sites featuring wine, liquor, beer and specialty foods, plus no sales tax.

Purple Plume 35 Church St. • 413-637-3442 Thepurpleplume.com purpleplume13@gmail.com Facebook: purpleplume1 Instagram: purple_plume_lenox About us: Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary with a new and different outfit from Purple Plume? We have artwear, funwear, casual wear, as well as special occasion dresses. Purple Plume is stocked with all new beautiful spring and summer clothing, jewelry, and accessories to lift your spirits and bring smiles. We have all your favorite companies: Clara S., Habitat, Nally & Millie, Jess & Jane, Parsley & Sage, and Inoah. The handbags by Joy Susan are bright, and her scarves are alive with color. We are open with COVID-careful protocols in place and will help you in any way we can (or leave you alone!). We give honest opinions and help direct customers to the right style, color, and fit that’s perfect for you.

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Shakespeare & Company 70 Kemble St • 413-637-3353 shakespeare.org Facebook: shakeandco Instagram: shakeandco About us: Shakespeare & Company has undergone some wonderful changes since the last time many people have visited in person. 2021 marks the opening of The New Spruce Theatre, a 500-seat amphitheater set under the towering spruce trees on the picturesque campus. “King Lear” (starring Christopher Lloyd and directed by Nicole Ricciardi) will be the first production staged at The New Spruce, with other shows taking place at The Roman Garden, Shakespeare & Company’s other outdoor performance space. The safety and comfort of all visitors is vitally important to the company, and capacity restrictions, mask-wearing, distancing, and other procedures will be in place for the coming season. Founded in 1978, Shakespeare & Company is one of the leading Shakespeare festivals of the world, welcoming more than 40,000 patrons annually. The company is also home to an internationally renowned Center for Actor Training and award-winning Education Program.

PURPLE PLUME SHAKESPEARE & COMPANY

SHOOZ 44 Housatonic St. • 413-637-1118 casabgroup.com/Stores/shooz Shooz.lenox@gmail.com Instagram: Shooz_Lenox Facebook: Lenox.shooz About us: We are fully stocked and excited to greet, see and serve our regular and new clients. We are bringing back spring and fall Arche and fall Aquatalia. We are also adding Frye to our mix of footwear collections. We are a full-service boutique that mindfully curates fine footwear, clothing, outerwear and accessories with our clients’ interest always at the forefront. “Effortless and essential” describes our clothing collections, for work, play and dress. Our footwear lines can be described as timeless, classic and funky, with our focus on comfort and style, originating from Spain, Israel, Italy, Portugal and the U.S.

SHOOZ

Sohn Fine Art 69 Church St. • 413-551-7353 sohnfineart.com info@sohnfineart.com Facebook: SohnFineArt Instagram: sohnfineart About us: In celebration of the gallery’s 10th anniversary, Sohn Fine Art is pleased to present “Futurity.” This exhibition of represented artists’ iconic and newly released works is scheduled to be on view May Sponsored Content 

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7 through July 25, with an anniversary celebration June 26. As long as travel guidelines permit, we will be hosting U.K. artist Valda Bailey in the Berkshires the first week of October for an artist talk, photography workshop, and a solo exhibition for the artist that runs from July 30 to Oct. 11. Finishing out the year, master photographer Jeff Robb will have a solo show Oct. 15 through January 2022. Sohn Fine Art specializes in contemporary photography and is dedicated to the development, promotion and exhibition of innovative contemporary artworks by international and local artists. Visit Sohn Fine Art for your fine art printing and framing needs. We offer custom, oneon-one service with attention to detail, using only archival materials.

SOHN FINE ART SWTRZ

SWTRZ 38 Church St. • 413-637-9193 casabgroup.com/Stores/swtrz casablancalenox@hotmail.com About us: We’re open daily, fully stocked with fabulous new spring sweaters and tops that you have come to expect, know and love, now featuring Krazy Larry pants. Come check out our little gem of a store, featuring fun, fashionable tops and sweaters, mostly under $99. In addition, discover a wide assortment of accessories: wraps, scarves, gloves, mittens and jewelry. And, as with the sweaters, they deliver fashion at an affordable price.

What A Gift: Gifts For Her, Him & Home

WHAT A GIFT

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68 Main St. • 413-551-7424 whatagiftlenox.com whatagiftlenox@gmail.com Facebook: whatagiftlenox Instagram: whatagiftlenox About us: I recently relocated to a slightly larger space at 68 Main St., which is part of the busy Village Center. I’m expanding my card lines, adding more stationery and bringing in gift wrap, which is all made in small batches from independent makers in the U.S. Vintage penny candy will return for the summer 2021. I offer Lenox and Berkshires T-shirts and sweatshirts that are printed locally, along with other Lenox-themed items, like mugs, magnets and ornaments. •

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Will festivals, audiences return this summer?

A crowd watches an aerial performance during the 2019 Street Food Festival at Kampfires Campground in Dummerston, Vt. Brattleboro Reformer File Photo

Windham County music festivals, businesses look to summer with high hopes By Jennifer Huberdeau

Amy Brady expects to have a busy summer and fall at Kampfires Campground, Inn and Entertainment. But what summer and fall will look like, when it comes to hosting events, depends on what COVID-19 safety precautions/restrictions are still

in place, how many people have been vaccinated and how businesses in Vermont will be allowed to reopen. “It will be interesting to see how people travel this year,” said Brady, who co-owns Kampfires, in Dummerston, and Whetstone Station, in Brattleboro, with her husband, Tim Brady, and their business

partner, David Hiler. “People will want to go somewhere, get out of their own house. All our pre-bookings are already way up for the year and from the year before; I think we’ll see things bounce back quickly when things are over.” But just when that would be still wasn’t clear in March,

despite Gov. Phil Scott’s plan to have every Vermont resident vaccinated by May 1. “It looks like things are going in the right direction,” Brady said. “But we still don’t have any regulations or guidelines.” The worldwide rollout of COVID-19 vaccines did give several Windham Country arts organizations confidence that UpCountryOnline.com | 37


parts of their annual summer programming could resume. “ We’re planning with hope and intention to have our summer festival this year, but obviously it will be in a slightly different shape,” said Catherine Stephan, executive director of Yellow Barn in Putney, Vt. Yellow Barn, an international center for chamber music, hosts an annual five-week summer festival pairing musicians from around the world with faculty from world-renowned conservancies. Artistic Director Seth Knopp said, during a midMarch interview, that the nonprofit has had at least one conversation with the musicians scheduled to spend the summer in Putney this year. When the program’s musicians in Europe started confirming they had been vaccinated and had secured travel visas, he said, it became clear that Yellow Barn’s core fiveweek music festival in July could take place. With that in mind, Stephan said the organization was scouting various locations for indoor and outdoor venues. (The timing of outdoor performances, with audience members, was still undecided in early April.) “These sorts of challenges are not completely unfamiliar to us in terms of programming, I’m always considering time and place,” Knopp said, noting that all of the artists he’d spoken with had already sent him repertoire lists and he was fully engrossed in planning the summer’s programming. All of the artists traveling to Putney this year, Stephan said, had been selected last March. The program receives over 500 applications annually,

from which 35 to 40 musicians are selected. “There’s been a lot in flux in the last year and we feel very fortunate to have these resources we created in the past be useful in a new way,” she said, noting that live performances were held through Yellow Barn’s traveling stage, Music Haul, in the fall. Music Haul will again host shows in May, August and possibly September. “That said, our summer festival remains the heart of the matter and it really is pure joy thinking about that kind of reunion. It seems every time we go into Putney, people ask us, with great hope, if our musicians will be back this summer … We’re very hopeful to have many people involved safely.” After a year hiatus, the Marlboro Music Festival, in Marlboro, also “has confidence” it will be able to welcome back its musicians to campus for the summer music festival, from July 17 to Aug. 15. However, in early April, the organization was still unsure of whether or not rehearsals or concerts would be open to the public. “We’re hopeful that we will be able to welcome audiences back this summer, but what that will look like, if possible, is still undetermined. It might not be 1,000 in a room, it may be 100 in a room,” Brian Potter, communications director for Marlboro Music, said. (Audience members are encouraged to sign up for Marlboro Music’s email newsletter to receive the most up-to-date information.) While welcoming back audiences is a priority, he said, Marlboro Music’s major goal this season is to bring back its musicians, the majority of

Marlboro Music’s main focus is to bring its musicians, both students and faculty, back to its campus this summer. Credit: Photo provided by Marlboro Music.

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whom have not performed or rehearsed together since last year. “Our program is predicated on bringing together senior musicians and for them to physically be able to share music with younger generations,” Potter said. While programming happened online last year, there were many changes happening on the campus of Marlboro Music, including the group securing a 99-year-lease of the former Marlboro College property.

And students and faculty will be welcomed back to campus with the new Jerome and Celia Bertin Reich Building and a new residence hall. The Reich building will house chamber music rehearsal studios, a music library, offices and common spaces. “The building addition is really a transformative project,” Potter said. “It was started that last time we were all together; that was two summers ago. It’s reinventing the campus hub and will be a huge

Top Left: A violinist performs on Yellow Barn Music Haul during a New York City tour in 2020. Bottom Left: Yellow Barn Music Haul plays music outside of the Putney General Store during the summer of 2020. Photos provided by Yellow Barn Below: Next Stage brought music to communities in Windham County with its mobile Bandwagon Summer Series in 2020. This year it plans to expand the series to include different types of performances and more venues.. Photo provided by Justin Altman via Next Stage

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Anthony Doell savors an order of glazed bacon on a stick from “Bacon Me. Crazy” at Baconfest, at Kampfires Campground in Dummerston, Vt. Brattleboro Reformer File Photo

deal when we do get musicians back on campus.” Next Stage Arts Project, in Putney, is looking to build upon the summer concert series it debuted last summer. “We were one of the first organizations in Windham Country to venture out to do something,” Executive Director Keith Marks said. The nonprofit quickly launched its mobile Bandwagon Summer Series last year, bringing outdoor, socially distanced cultural performances to locations around Windham County. “There were a ton of protocols we put in place and those kept people safe.

But, I would say, the real win was people feeling that Next Stage was really being mindful of being able to not just bring people together, but to do it in a way that was mindful of everybody’s safety,” Marks said. “We’re excited and hopeful for this summer, as people get vaccinated and the warmer months come on. “We’re hoping we can improve on the impact we had on our community. Those concerts last summer, for some people, were the only time they came out into public other than to go food shopping. And I know, in the cases of one or two people, who told

me, those were the only things they did to come into public gatherings at all.” Planning for the upcoming summer season has been underway since January. “We’re going to build on the success of the Bandwagon Summer Series,” he said. “ We’re looking at a much more robust lineup, not just musically, but also circus, theater and dance.” A lineup for the Bandwagon Summer Series can be found at nextstagearts.org/ next-stage-presents. “We’re also really trying to serve families and older people throughout this pandemic,” Marks said, noting

the organization has several community-based programs out of its Putney space, which includes a gallery and commercial kitchen. Back in D ummerston, Brady is hopeful that Kampfires soon will be able to host weddings and large events. “I’m really looking forward to some larger events, where people can walk and wander,” Brady said. “We’re very hopeful that by fall, we’ll be able to host our Bacon Festival and our Street Food Festival. Our fingers are really crossed, in hopes, that we’ll be able to host our Cajun festival at the end of August.” • UpCountryOnline.com | 41


Sunrise on Lake Paran in North Bennington, Vt. Photo provided by Lake Paran Recreations

Explore the great outdoors in Bennington 5 places to hike, bike, walk or just enjoy a day in the sun By Cherise Forbes

Bennington, Vt., is blessed with a bountiful and beautiful landscape, which makes it all the more difficult to decide where to explore next! Whether you’re a local looking for a backyard adventure or a visitor eager to discover Vermont, we’ve got you covered with five outdoor recreation locations to check out this summer.

Explore historic Bennington with BATS The Bennington Area Trail System — it’s affection-

ately known as BATS — was founded by a group of local advocates in 2015 and is one of the best-maintained trail networks in the region. Cascading through historic Bennington, these trails are ideal for biking, walking and running. Don’t miss the group’s inaugural 2015 trail, Hops & Vines, which routes hikers and bikers from the Everett Mansion, on the former Southern Vermont College campus, to Monument Avenue in Old Bennington. Hops & Vines can be traversed in either direction and is prime,

in particular, for mountain biking. Looking for a more beginner-friendly trail? Start with the Carriage Road trail, which will take you along a cobblestone road to sweeping views of the valley and the Bennington Battle Monument. Trail maps and more information about BATS can be found online at batsvt.org. For updates on trail conditions, visit facebook.com/batsvt. Be sure to check out the trail rules and etiquette on the BATS website before you go.

Take a hike on the Bald Mountain Trail It’s no secret that Vermont is rich with hiking locales, including sections of the Appalachian and Long trails, both of which intersect at the southwestern corner of the state. But, Bennington’s best trail might be the Bald Mountain Trail, known simply as “white rocks” by locals. You’ll understand the name when you reach the summit, which opens up to a jaw-dropping vista of the western valley. Sit in the sea of rocks — they UpCountryOnline.com | 43


make up the west side of Bald Mountain — for lunch with a view before descending back into the Glastenbury Wilderness. The Bald Mountain trail can be accessed from Bennington and Woodford. For more information and a map, check out fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/ fseprd573938.pdf.

Learn something new at the George Aiken Wildflower Trail Named in honor of a two-term Vermont governor and six-term U.S. senator, the Bennington Museum’s George Aiken Wildflower Trail features a carefully curated collection of plants, shrubs and ferns that Aiken wrote about in his 1935 book “Pioneering with Wildflowers.” The half-mile display constantly is evolving, thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers who also maintain an educational aspect of the trail through informational signs and markers, as well as events. It’s not just the surrounding flora that has historic roots, though. Stone benches and other features adorn the trail, created by Vermont craftsmen using local materials including granite, marble and slate. Accept their invitation to sit down and soak in the scenery before exploring the expanded network of trails including Pine Loop, Jennings Brook, Elderberry and Black Cherry. The George Aiken Wildflower Trail is open to the public from dawn until dusk, and visitors should leave no trace. For more information, visit benningtonmuseum.org/visit/outdoor-walks/ george-aiken-wildflower-trail.

Soak up a classic summer day at Lake Paran Lake Paran is undoubtedly the setting of many cherished childhood memories, having provided an all-season outdoors hub since 1960. In the summertime, you’ll see kids gathered on Paran’s now-iconic floating raft as the adults mill along the beach and lawn, grilling, playing horseshoes or volleyball, or scarfing down one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches around. (Seriously, get a grilled cheese from the concession stand — you won’t regret it.) Families can enjoy camps and educational programs year-round, but you won’t want to miss Lake Paran’s summer stone-skipping contest or July 3 fireworks display. Be sure to explore the surrounding trails between swimming and sunning! For more information, hours and admission prices, visit lakeparanvt.org.

This page: BATS maintains trails for all skill levels throughout historic Bennington, Vt. Photos provided by BATS

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Lean into local literature along the Robert Frost Trail Did you know that you can stand within the “lovely, dark, and deep” woods that Robert Frost described in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening?” Frost penned this classic poem in 1923 at his home — it now is maintained by Bennington College as the Robert Frost Stone House Museum — on Route 7A in Shaftsbury. The 2-mile Robert Frost Trail in the woods behind his home is maintained by The Fund for North Bennington, and traverses the woods behind the museum all the way to the north shore of Lake Paran. Bring a book of Frost’s poems to enjoy at the many benches along the trail, or at one of the many stunning views of Bennington and the Berkshires. As you begin or end your hike, stop by the Stone House Museum to learn about Frost and his connections to Southern Vermont. You can even see some of the apple trees Frost planted on the property! More information: northbennington.org/ paran-trails For more information about outdoor recreation opportunities in Bennington, visit bennington.com/recreationintheshires • Left: Scenery from the Robert Frost Trail in Bennington, Vt. Photos provided by the Fund for North Bennington Below: The Bennington Museum’s George Aiken Wildflower Trail features a carefully curated collection of plants, shrubs and ferns. Photo provided by the Bennington Museum

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UpCountry in bloom

With winter done and gone, UpCountry residents welcome warmer weather UpCountryOnline.com | 47


Previous page: A baby goat sneaks back into its pasture to be with its mother at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Mass. Photo by Stephanie Zollshan Above: Trinna Larsen and Mikala Chase, employees at Harlow Farm, in Westminster, Vt., remove extra dirt from the newly planted corn or place a corn plant in areas that were missed. Next page: Dennis Mayotte, top, of Brattleboro, Vt. and Bill Stevens, of Bellows Falls, enjoy the green at Brattleboro Country Club. Photos by Kristopher Radder

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Below: Flowers bloom outside the Commons at Bennington College in Bennington, Vt. Next page: Girls enjoy the sunshine on the dock at Lake Paran in North Bennington. Photos by Caroline Bonnivier Snyder

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Above: Honey bees visit the grape hyacinth blooms and Siberian squill flowers on the steps leading to the Venetian garden at Naumkeag in Stockbridge, Mass. Below: Spring flowers start to bloom in the Chinese garden. Photos by Stephanie Zollshan

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FROM THE ARCHIVE

The Wonder of Herbs

Decorative, fragrant herbs are ‘plants with a purpose’ that are useful as condiments, medicine, tonics and insect deterrents. Every serious garden should have some

54 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | May/June 2021


Original article published in UpCountry, May 27, 1977. This article has been edited for content and length.

By Gertrude B. Foster FALLS VILLAGE, Conn.

Herbs make a garden useful. fragrant, formal, historic, drought-resistant, less troubled with insects and amusing. A little culinary herb garden to aid the cook and hostess is what comes to mind when one thinks of herbs as useful. It provides a continuous harvest of seasonings and material for bouquets, both culinary and decorative The contents of fresh herb-flavored dishes will be as intriguing to the palate as the hidden meaning of a Tussie Mussie, or tiny nosegay of sweet marjoram (joy of the mountain), rosemary (for remembrance), pink thyme blossoms (for valor) and purple-leaved basil (for love), all surrounded by a leafy frill of scented-geranium foliage conveying gaiety to the person to whom it is presented. Emerald curly parsley was used to wreathe the brow of the victor in sports contests in Roman days as Laurus Nobilis or bay leaves crowned conquerors and poets. The flat-leaved Italian parsley adds vitamins and minerals to the diet. It is richer in vitamin C and A than any of the citrus fruits. Salad burnet gives a cucumber zest to salads without the presence of cucumbers There are many more examples of the way in which useful herbs become interesting when you know their history of service to man. The way herbs make a garden can become a point of view. The gardener develops an awareness that in the perennial border, the rock garden, the kitchen vegetable patch are plants with a purpose. Many have been important to people in some part of the work, or in

some previous time. We grubbed out daylilies from places where we wanted to plant herbs near our 18th-century house. When a Chinese botanist at the Arnold Arboretum wrote two articles for The Herb Grower Magazine on the edible qualities and medicinal history of the same species in her homeland, we stopped fighting the march of Hemerocallis fulva where little else would grow. Daylilies can be added to salads and soups and the roots could be used as a home remedy. One soon discovers after starting down the fragrant path of herb study that there are not only herbs for every garden, but herbs in every garden The question, “ls that an herb?” ceases to be all-important. In nearly 40 years of growing fragrant and useful plants, we have seen many plants previously classed as flowers become highly regarded for their medicinal or insecticidal properties. The most useful aspect of seasoning herbs such as dill, fennel, oregano, lovage, parsley, savory, thyme, rosemary and sage is their help in controlling the food budget. As convenience foods have moved up from using 30 percent of the shopping dollar to 70 percent, a knowledge of herbs is more vital than ever. Herbs make a garden fragrant and therein lies much of their power. Odors make an indelible impression upon memory. Gardening among sweet herbs is a joyous experience. As John Gerard said, in his letter in The Herball (1597): "Talke of perfect happiness or pleasure, and what place was so fit for that as the garden place where Adam was set to be the Herbalist . . .?" The minute one’s interest ranges beyond the 50 or so culinary herbs that may be grown in northern gardens, the romance of the medicinal plants,

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UpCountryOnline.com | 55


which are fragrant, begins to seep into one’s consciousness. As William Coles, the author of "The Art of Simpling" (1657) wrote: “What a pleasant thing it is for Man (whom the ignorant think to be alone) to have plants speaking Greek and Latin to him, putting him in mind of Stories, which otherwise he would never think of . . . with what rare colors and sweet odors do the Flourishing Fields and Gardens entertain the senses? The usefulness of it no judicious man can deny, unless he would also deny the virtues of herbs, which experience itself doth daily approve. How often do we see not only men's bodies but even the minds of those that are distracted, to be cured by them?" Some herbs do not pervade the air with sweet perfumes which can prove cloying if too strong. Southernwood, winter savory, rose geranium and even lemon verbena reveal their essential oils mainly when pressed by the touch of the hand. Basils do give off warm dove-like aromas when the sun is on them. Strangely that is the time to water them and sweet marjoram, rather than in the late afternoon as is specified usually for garden sprinkling. (Another bit of wisdom from 17th-century gardeners is to water sweet marjoram and sweet basil with moisture the same temperature as the air, rather than hosing them with chill well-water.) The subtle breath of herbs can be more exciting than the perfume of peonies, or freesias, or hyacinths, which fade with the passing of the flowers. Rosemary's piney scent can be summoned any time one runs a hand over the needle-like leaves. In fact, if you are stripping the leaves from the stems of rosemary, sage or thyme, to dry them quickly, the rich oils will leave both fragrance and color on one's hands. Clary sage blossoms have a special odor that has some uncomplimentary names. In Italy it is

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called a term that means "smells like sweat" but the oil from them is used in the perfume industry to tone down the raw quality of artificial flower perfumes. Hummingbirds arc greatly attracted to the long dowering spikes of blue and white clary sage. Goldfinches wait until the seeds are ripening on the biennial plant to nip in and snip out the four nutlets of seeds in each flower. Certain plants attract animals by their odors. Catnip is a case in point but the oil of the herb will turn away ants and beetles. Garlic oil contains

56 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | May/June 2021

substances that kill germs and mosquito larvae. Beekeepers 'line'' wild bees with a bait containing oil of anise. Mint planted around a building, it is said in the South, will keep snakes from crawling under it. It is difficult to separate the usefulness of herbs from their fragrance. A garden of herbs may be as small as a window box planted with sweet marjoram, parsley, dwarf sage, French thyme, seedling dill and prostrate rosemary. This could be placed on a patio or roof-top. Container-grown plants

need feeding through the summer. If herbs like chives are to be cut frequently they should be trimmed from around the sides of the clump, not sheared off all at once. Soluble plant food one-quarter strength of that given on the package will provide the lean diet that keeps herbs more aromatic and flavorful. Herbs make a formal garden if they are used to work out intricate patterns of a "knot garden” where evergreen germander, Santolina and box may be woven into ribbons and bows. •


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UpCountry Magazine, May/June 2021  

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