Soaking in the final days of summer in the Berkshires
Summer may be unofficially taking its last warm breath Monday, but there's still time to check off those "summer must-dos" before you turn the page on August.
To help inspire you, we asked Berkshire Eagle staffers what last-minute fun they plan on squeezing in before Labor Day arrives. So, put down that pumpkin latte and take off the fuzzy scarf; there is still some summer left in the Berkshires.
Cool late-summer nights aren't just good for sleeping, they are also perfect for sitting around a bonfire with friends. Reporter Jenn Smith recommends warming up fireside at the outdoor fire pit at the Dream Away Lodge in Becket, or the Brew ‘n Bonfire event at Kemble Inn in Lenox.
New this summer to the inn, Brew ‘n Bonfire starts 30 minutes before sunset every Thursday evening and features local craft beer, ranging from $4 to $5, and the inn's homemade sangria and shandy -- a mixture of homemade lemonade and beer -- for $9. Locals, as well as guests, are invited. No reservations are needed.
"It's a very simple, very casual and very friendly social gathering," said Scott Laugenour, administrator at the inn. "Guests are welcome, but most attendees are locals from town."
Weather permitted, the weekly bonfires at the inn should run through September, according to Laugenour. Check the bonfire's official Twitter account @Brew_n_Bonfire for more information.
If you plan on having your own bonfire party at home, remember to check your town's open-burn laws. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security recommends you never use flammable liquid to start a fire because it greatly increases the risk of injury. Instead, use paper and kindling, burning one small pile at a time then slowing adding to it.
For Eagle staffer Dick Lindsay, this summer is about taking the plunge and going white-water rafting on Deerfield River for the first time. Not feeling so adventurous? Online Editor Laura Lofgren said tubing down the river is just as much fun. She and her friends like to drive up through North Adams to Florida to the Mohawk Trail on Route 2, launching near the Hoosac Tunnel. Where exactly, she won't say because it's "top secret," but she recommends renting tubes nearby in Charlemont, where you can also find guides if you're not with a local.
If you prefer to stay on dry land, take a hike and catch the views before the leaves change. Smith said she plans on watching the sunrise or set at the Becket Land Trust Historic Quarry, Mount Greylock or Pittsfield State Forest.
Taste the season
It's a short window before the summer snacks are replaced by Halloween candy on the grocery store shelves, but that doesn't mean you can't try to squeeze in the few last tastes of summer. Editorial Page editor Bill Everhart said he has to stop at Pedrin's Dairy Bar on Route 8 in North Adams before it closes up for the winter at the end of October.
Everhart recommends the bacon double-cheeseburger with the eatery's "awesome" fries.
Sports Editor Matthew Sprague uses this last week of summer to stock up on summer craft beers before the fall brews take over the taps. But fruity beer lovers beware, pumpkin ales have probably already taken over your package store shelves, according to Josh Cohen, owner of Moe's Tavern and Trader Moe's, a specialty beer retailer in downtown Lee.
"It's hard to pull the trigger on fall beer when it's 80 degrees and sunny outside," said Cohen. "But I stopped buying summer beers in July."
Cohen said because the retail cycle is ahead a few months, he is already getting his first shipments of pumpkin beers, harvest ales and Octoberfests.
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