Where's the best place to be on a summer night? You know the kind of summer night when the air is milk-warm. The air moving through the leaves sounds like rain. And you feel as though things can happen. Walking out of the house, walking up to someone and saying hello, feels as easy as breathing.

On this kind of summer night I've stretched out bare feet on a friend's lawn, watching friends spin wooden staffs tipped with fire. The flames wove rings in the dark. I've shared cheese and fresh blueberries at Triple Shadow's rehearsal barn in Otis, waiting for Emily Dickinson to walk into their garden. I've listened to Yo-Yo Ma in his last concert with Seiji Ozawa -- and watched a tall and limber man dance in point shoes at Jacob's Pillow.

When that kind of performance catches me right, it makes me vulnerable. It gets past self-consciousness, and I feel like the night I drove over the mountain with friends to hear Jonathan Coulton in Northampton, and the audience programmed flames on their iPhones and stamped and sang, and I felt myself laughing silently and unstoppably. In that moment I could have walked right up to anyone.

Now I'm wondering where to find that magic this summer. This week and next the reader's polls will come out along Route 7 -- Best of the Berkshires today and the Vermont Readers' Choice magazine next week. And as we put this magazine together this week, we have been thinking about high points.

Right now we have everything to look forward to and everything to estimate.


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Strawberry festivals, ‘The Mystery of Irma Vep' with Berkshire Theatre Group, Civil Rights leaders speaking at Hevreh, Andrew DeVries unveiling a bronze sculpture at Ventfort Hall, WordXWord peotry slams at Gallery 51, Ethl String Quartet at the Mahaiwe -- and that's a slim sampling of this weekend alone.

This week is the solstice, and the season of music and sparklers on the lawn and drama and giant puppets and fireflies is here. Let's set off for the heights.