PITTSFIELD

The little thermometer stuck outside my kitchen window shows a bone chilling 17 F; a dramatic change from the almost balmy fall that we had a few weeks ago. The porch furniture, which only a short time ago was ablaze with its wild tropical print, is now resting in peace, shrouded in beige blandness. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that winter is here. And for those of us who are not fortunate enough to migrate to warmer climes, here are some suggestions to staying toasty in the Berkshires!

We first met BLADEZ in the fitness area of Sears. Unlike some of the other exercise bikes resplendent with doodads and plastic covering its working parts, BLADEZ seemed to express a certain charisma; all solid curved tubular steel topped by a racing bicycle seat and enclosed pedals connected to a 45 pound fly wheel; built to last a lifetime and all made in the good old U.S.A. The fact that it was almost $400 off the list price resulted in BLADEZ having a home in our living room where it now sits. On cool evenings, when the air is too frigid to hit the gym, BLADEZ comes to the rescue, promising a hot and sweaty workout. There is however the small matter of actually using it as an exercise machine and we have to resist the temptation of using BLADEZ as a coat rack!

One of the morning rituals we have is known as "the cat on the bed nuzzling you at 5.30 a.m." which on most mornings is kind of cute. Except that our cats are not aware of the concept of sleeping in on the weekends! We still have not figured out their motivation. Is it food or love?

We introduced Odin (the long-haired and very fuzzy male Norwegian Forest cat we rescued from a shelter, AKA Big Mac based on his 20-pound heft) and Hanna (the female Norwegian, also a long-haired tortoise who was adopted from a cattery after breeding three beautiful and expensive litters; a svelte eight pounds and also known as Honey Bee) in a previous article. The body temperature of felines is four degrees higher than ours. There is also a law of thermodynamics which states that heat flows from a body with higher temperature to a body with lower temperature. You get the picture. These divas of course get cuddled a lot, but not sure about our motivation. Is it warmth or love?

The tavern at the Red Lion Inn may seem an unlikely place to get warm and it has nothing to do with the dispensing of alcohol. Since our family is back in Pennsylvania, we decided to have lunch at the main dining room at the Red Lion Inn. I am normally a pesco-vegetarian but every Thanksgiving Day I have this unusual craving for a turkey dinner with all the fixings.

The day before I had attempted to make a reservation for the main dining room. However when we showed up, we were advised by a friendly maître d that we needed to make a reservation a year in advance. However there was immediate seating available in the tavern. We were directed to a table near a roaring wood fireplace, and to my relief there was a turkey dinner on the menu. The low white tin covered ceiling, the dark red walls with black and white photographs of celebrities who had quaffed a pint, all added to the cozy ambiance.

After polishing off thick slices of turkey breast, stuffing and cranberry sauce (Karen had a humus and grilled vegetable sandwich and somewhere out there, is one happy turkey) washed down with a mug of Sam Adams, life was good.

And warm!

Dr. Mehernosh Khan, his wife Karen, and their cats, moved to the Berkshires last year.