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Tag along on a trip through Americana in Massachusetts’ Berkshires | Travel | Dallas-Fort Wor…

By Catherine Mallette

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Now the first of December was covered with snow

And so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston

Lord, the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting…

No, no. There is no snow. It is a hot, sweltering July night, but still, the Berkshires do seem dreamlike, magical even, and the crowd roars its approval.

After all, life is good. James Taylor is onstage at Tanglewood, that venerable outdoor amphitheater in western Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains. Summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since the 1930s, the Lenox venue features a covered stage and seating known as the Music Shed, but, more enchantingly, it also boasts acres of lush green lawn surrounded by towering pines and topped, as the evening goes on, by an inky sky bedazzled with stars.

This is practically Taylor’s back yard. He has a home about 10 minutes down the road, and locals say he is frequently seen in Stockbridge, a slip of a town incorporated in 1739 and also about five to 10 minutes from the theater.

The crowd, mainly middle- to late-middle-age folks who have been fans of the singer for decades, loves him. His voice, filling the vast outdoor space, sounds exactly like it did when they listened to him on vinyl. Tonight, they’ve brought their baby, their blanket and their bucket of beer.

But wait, as they say, there’s more. Taylor is onstage with Carole King as part of their 2010 Troubadour Reunion tour. She has been belting out hit after hit and at 68 seems better than ever. And just when the crowd has been lulled into a “Dear Lord, could this concert be any better?” state of tranquility, Taylor says he has a special guest, and Yo-Yo Ma appears, cello in hand, joining the group for a sublime version of Sweet Baby James.

I break into a grin from ear to ear, as Taylor would say, and suddenly it’s perfectly clear: That’s why we’re here.

While Ticketmaster was raking in the bucks with the American Idol tour this summer, a tour that seemed to be getting an inordinate amount of media coverage, my husband, David, and I decided to take a different tack. We bought tickets online to the Tanglewood concert, booked a cottage room for three nights at a historic inn in Lenox and embarked on a sort of American Icon tour, intent on rediscovering some of our nation’s vacation classics. Seeking Nature and Culture, we set off to lose ourselves in the tiny rural triangle of Stockbridge, Lee and Lenox, Mass.

Icon: The Berkshires

As we drive into the Berkshires from the east, on the MassPike, they slowly capture our attention with vista upon vista of thickly treed slopes. In the summer, it is like approaching a rural Emerald City — no big buildings, no billboards. Just dense green foliage as far as the eye can see.

Our base for this trip is the Garden Gables Inn, a charming place on the edge of downtown Lenox, which began its days as a home built in 1780. It turns out to be a perfect home away from home. Our cottage room is located away from the main house, but in the mornings we find ourselves looking forward to the delicious, abundant breakfast served in the main house’s dining room and porch. We read the papers that are available to guests, and try omelets, waffles, granola and yogurt. We chat with the well-informed innkeepers, who help us plot our day, and we eavesdrop on other guests as they do the same. The inn also boasts a 100-year-old pool, a concrete behemoth that beckons us at the end of each day with its clear, cooling waters.

Looking for comments?

Great article about a couple from Texas visiting the Berkshires and doing all the right things – tanglewood, Rockwell, Pillow, Arcadian, Lenox, Stockbridge…. If anyone is wondering locally why people come from far away to visit us, read this article. Beauty, nature, culture, peace, civility, experience.

Posted via email from Kevin Sprague