When I moved to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts from Maine twenty nine years ago I had no preconceptions about this area at all. I had fallen in love with someone who lived here and was simultaneously offered a very desirable appointment in the Connecticut valley so I moved to where my job was and visited here on the weekends. After four years, I relocated to Berkshire County permanently.
The more time I spent here, the more I realized what an idyllic place to live it was. I am a landscape painter and the physical beauty of the surroundings was an unfailing inspiration for my work as well as a constant pleasure to look at the rest of the time. As I got to know more people I found that many who chose to live here were interesting and impressively accomplished. Social life is informal whether it takes place in homes or in the many first class restaurants
There are innumerable cultural opportunities here as well—going to Tanglewood in the summer to hear some of the most gifted musicians in the world in an outdoor setting too beautiful to believe, excellent plays at the Berkshire Theater Festival, Shakespeare and Company and many other groups, electrifying dance performances at Jacob’s Pillow and all sorts of lectures, films and other intellectually stimulating events. At the same time, this area offers the friendliness and livability of a small town where you know the people at the bank and the drugstore by name.
As I lived here longer and the seasons passed I became more and more conscious of what a privilege it was to be in this beautiful place. Endless opportunities for hiking and outdoor sports like golf, tennis and fly fishing in the summer, skiing, both downhill and cross country, as well as snowshoeing in the winter, and yoga, exercise, and dance classes all year round. There are several fine museums within an hour’s drive, any number of galleries for looking at contemporary art and places to hear jazz or chamber music or any other kind of music you might desire.
As it happens, the person I moved here to be with was a painting conservator. As I observed his work, I found it very interesting and wondered whether the color mixing skills I had developed in landscape painting could be transferred to inpainting, an essential part of restoration. I decided to try, and once I had mastered the intricacies of the new discipline, I found I loved returning paintings to what the artist had intended. Ever since, I have been pursuing this direction in the mornings and doing my own work in the afternoons, both of which have been continually fascinating.
I am still in love with the person for whom I originally moved here and have, in addition, fallen in love with living in this place. Just the ordinary activities of life—going to the dentist, getting the car inspected, shopping for groceries are enhanced by driving through a landscape that is beautiful in every season. I feel very fortunate to be here and cannot imagine a more satisfying place to spend one’s life.
South Egremont, Massachusetts