NORTH ADAMS -- Summer is here!
For me, it's worth stating the obvious with an exclamation point after this past winter and the weather roller coaster that was the spring.
One of my most favorite things about summer in the Berkshires is taking advantage of outdoor entertainment.
I've enjoyed Third Thursdays and Live on the Lake events in Pittsfield and Sundays at 6 in Williamstown, for example.
Now being a permanent North County resident, I'm learning there's a lot more to take advantage of than I thought.
I've heard of Windsor Lake in North Adams and the summer concert series held there, but I have never actually been to either.
Concerts are free, open to the public and held each Wednesday beginning at 6:30 p.m., which means it's not actually dark at that hour, but I think it's OK.
When I looked up the schedule online, I was stoked to see that one of my favorite feel-good bands, the rock-reggae-jam group Rebel Alliance was on tap last week.
I left Pittsfield after work, and made it to the lake around 7 p.m. I only stayed for an hour so I could make it home for last week's Boston Bruins game. (I know, I know, I'm sorry for this week's Stanley Cup loss too, my fellow fans.)
It was a perfect summer evening and a beautiful drive up to the lake. I got there to find ample free parking and plenty of people of all ages enjoying the scene. I found I was overdressed in the dress I wore to work, so I took off my heels. I also found I was starving.
Fortunately, Windsor Lake's grounds is also home to Amy's Café on the Lake (also where the restrooms are located). There was a bit of a line, which gave me time to make up my mind. All items are under $10, and most are under $5 in terms of food.
They have everything from ice cream to entree specials to traditional burgers and fries kinds of fare. I went with a special on the board called Courtney's Chicken Wrap ($7.25), was given a plastic chip with my order number on it, and then waited.
It's not exactly a fast food operation, seeing as I only saw four employees, two of whom were actually cooking. Even a pair of older guys waiting behind me for fried dough tsked the wait.
While in line, I also heard two women say that "they've cleaned the place up a lot." The dining area by the snack bar is landscaped with picnic tables and other seating, and has some small campfires burning to add to the ambiance.
When your food comes, your number is yelled out multiple times, loudly and sort of brusquely, which I didn't care for. Moments later, however, I could have cared less. I don't know who Courtney is, but I love her taste in sandwich-making. The wrap was served hot, lightly crisped on the grill and stuffed with sliced breaded chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese, bacon and -- are you ready for this -- onion rings and chipotle mayo. Deee-lish!
I sat on a bench to nosh while overlooking the lake. There were a few paddlers out on the water and some folks fishing on the shore. Other families just sat on the water's edge and gazed.
My dinner break coincided with the band's break, so I people watched for entertainment.
I did see that other people brought their own snacks and food and drinks, including adult beverages, which are permitted in limited quantities.
I saw a fair amount of people between their late-teens and into their 20s gathered with groups of friends on picnic blankets or clusters of camping chairs. There were families, lots of families, and also couples of varying age groups hanging out and holding hands. Also, a lot of people seemed to know one another, bouncing from various spots on the lawn to say their hellos. I liked the scene but also felt like a bit of an outsider.
As I finished my dinner, the band started up again under a pavilion by the lake. The sound was great, filling the air. Most people sat, but frontman "Woody" managed to coax a half-dozen younger members of the crowd, plus a few kids, to hang out by the stage and dance. One audience member, a bohemic-looking lady with a flower in her hair, rocked out while hula hooping.
Despite being a loner, the hour actually flew by. As I made my way back up the lawn, I met a lot of smiling people and passed a game of Frisbee, a favorite pastime of mine, which made me smile. The band was still playing when I left at 8. I'm not sure how long they continued.
Overall, it was a positive experience for my first visit to Concerts at Windsor Lake. Next time, however, I'm bringing either a kayak or a few friends, and definitely some bug spray.
If you go ...
Concerts at Windsor Lake, 200 Windsor Lake Road, North Adams.
Concerts are Wednesdays through Aug. 28 (excluding Aug. 14), beginning at 6:30 p.m. Rain cancels. For more information: (413) 664-6180 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Style: Outdoor concert series by Windsor Lake.
Dress: Casual. Bring your own blanket or lawn chair for seating.
Cover: Free parking and admission.
Food: Amy’s Café on the Lake offers snacks, dinners, soft drinks and ice cream, all under $10; Cash only. Coolers are also permitted, as are limited quantities of wine and beer.
Entertainment: The remaining lineup is as follows: July 3: Satellite Shine; July 10: Wintergreen; July 17: The Wheel; July 24: Rev Tor Trio; July 31: Bang on a Can; Aug. 7 Champagne Jam; August 14: (No concert due to Downtown Celebration); Aug. 21: Miss Guided; August 28: Eagles Band. Find band descriptions at: http://bit.ly/123U9rQ.
Our rating: 3 mugs, Cheers!