Stockbridge — It’s icy cold in the Berkshires. The Stockbridge bowl has frozen over and the roads are perilous. I have to scrape the snow off my car every day now, the kids are pale and antsy from lack of fresh air, the heating bill is higher than the cost of a flight to England and my driveway is turned into an ice rink.
As any year-round resident will tell you, if you don’t tread VERY carefully on the Berkshire ground at this time of year you’ll fall on the ice and break your arm or get a concussion or die or – worse – fall in a way that your doctor tells you was the root cause of the frozen shoulder that has you yelping in pain months later. Which leads to the second frozen shoulder that makes it too painful to lift your arm high enough to brush your hair. Which explains why so many year-round Berkshire residents wear hats.
Then there are the Snow Birds who, convinced they are beating the system, quietly fly from the Berkshires to Florida in December, returning only when the magic of a Berkshire spring has arrived. Feeling guilty, these people try to resist posting TOO many photos of themselves on a Sarasota beach in January in order not to alienate the friends they’ve left behind in the frozen north.
But I wouldn’t leave the Berkshires for the winter if you paid me. And not just because the idea of spending weeks on a beach in Florida or indeed anywhere would bore me deeply.
As my friend Alan Wilken says, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” He should know. At almost 70, Alan bikes an average of 30 miles a day in all weather. He explains that his tires get fatter as the weather gets colder.
For me, February in the Berkshires is a magical month. The short, dark days are over and as February rolls on I feel more and more like Tony in West Side Story as he sang “There’s somethin’ due any day I will know right away soon as it shows….The air is humming. And something great is coming.”
I am, of course talking about Spring.
When you’re facing something really tough and you’re so worried you can’t sleep, living through a Berkshire winter can be helpful. Sure, the winters can be perilous and hard here. But it’s the people who for weeks on end have been battling the freezing wind in the Price Chopper parking lot that most appreciate the first hint of spring.
There’s this deep sense of relief and appreciation when you realize the worst is over. It’s the same way we feel on the day we realize that whatever horror was troubling us isn’t any more.
We’re in mid-winter and the President of the United States is still accusing people of treason with as much passion as King Henry the VIIIth. But, if you look carefully, you can already see a yellowish hue at the very edges of the Weeping Willow on the Stockbridge golf course. Warmth and new growth is on its way from under the frozen ground.