Derek Gentile: Beauty of the Berkshires hard to take for granted


PITTSFIELD — A Facebook pal of mine posted an article from, I think, the Huffington Post, suggesting that "everyone needs a week in the Berkshires once a year."

Well, I thought, I get 52 weeks a year in the Berkshires, so I'm golden.

There is a common perception that Berkshirites don't appreciate where they live. I would say there are some people who probably don't, because there are some people who are so distracted or just plain miserable that they have no interest in enjoying the beauty of an area.

I remember as a young lad in Adams, my friends and I would go swimming at a place called Bellevue Falls, which was located behind the Bellevue Street Cemetery. We knew very well what we had: a quiet, scenic area interrupted only by the burble of the waterfall.

Certainly, I took it for granted to some extent. But at the same time, I recall that, if you were swimming there later in the day, you took a minute to clean up the cans and food wrappers around the water and drop them into a barrel.

When I got to college in Boston, though, is when I realized that people coveted where I lived.

I used to hitchhike back and forth from Boston to the Berkshires on weekends. Most of the time, I'd be picked up by someone who just wanted to chat for the length of the Massachusetts Turnpike, and I was delighted to talk about anything they wanted.

Once I was picked up by a French guy who wanted directions to "Williamstown College."

"You're in luck, mon ami," I said, using my rudimentary French to bond with my new pal. "I'm going almost that far."

It was fall, so of course the trees were in full blaze. We got to the Lee exit and headed north up Route 20.

"Fantastic!" said my French friend, looking at the foliage on Route 20. "Unbelievable!"

"Come on," I said. "Don't you guys have foliage like this in France?"

"No," he said. (Or maybe "non;" I couldn't tell.) "Nothing like this!"

Fine, I thought. Knock yourself out.

We passed Blantyre, and he started peering at the building, which is admittedly cool. But he wasn't looking at the road. We veered slowly into the other lane, before he snapped the steering wheel over to get us back in the correct lane.

"Ah, Monsieur," I said, again trying to bond with my new buddy by speaking in his language. A little. "Maybe you want to pull over and take a picture? Or something?"

"No, no," he said. "I just enjoy looking."

Yeah, that was what I was afraid of.

We managed to make it to Adams, and I gave him directions to Williams College.

"And when you get there," I told my driver pal, "you'll see scenery that'll knock your socks off."

He looked at his feet. My Anglo joke was probably wasted on him.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions