Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dance, flowers, and food

Yesterday, Jeannine and I had a very pleasant summer Saturday. We'd made plans to go to Jacob's Pillow, the famous dance venue in the Berkshires. Jeannine had been there once many years before, but we'd never gone together, and I'd never been at all, although I could recall seeing the sign for Jacob's Pillow on my many motorcycle rides down that scenic stretch of Route 20 in Massachusetts.

When Jeannine suggested we might go to see a dance event there, she left it up to me to pick one. Not knowing much about dance, I chose one which looked to be at the very least interesting in a technical way, because from the image in the advertising, the dancers would be performing on a stage littered with hundreds of ping-pong balls. I found myself wondering how they would avoid slipping on them.

So we set out on a pretty nice, partly sunny day, and found our way via, one of my favorite scenic routes, to Jacob's Pillow, which is not too far off of Route 20. It's a lovely place, lots of rustic-looking barns and outbuildings which house studios and theaters set among beautiful trees and gardens, with many benches and picnic tables here and there. The event we were going to see involved two performances by choreographer and dancer Jonah Bokaer in the Doris Duke Theatre.

And it turned out to be… interesting. In fact, it turned out to be almost exactly what I had imagined it to be -- mostly concept and very little actual dancing. Jeannine was more disappointed than I was, because she likes to see more athletic dance movement and prefers lively music to go along with it (neither was on hand for these performances).

Actually -- and I almost hate to mention this because it reveals, perhaps, exactly what a nerd I am -- both performances made me think of moments from the original "Star Trek" TV series. In the first one, which I think was titled "Recess", part of the "dance" involved a dancer hidden under a huge sheet of white paper which was crumpled up into a heap… and the dancer moved round underneath it, crawling and lurching across the stage. I immediately thought of the way the Horta (the silicon-based cavern dweller in the episode "Devil in the Dark") , moved. It was eerily similar.

And in the next performance, titled "Recess" (this was the one with all the ping-pong balls), at one point hundreds of balls were poured from a chute on the left side of the stage, reminding me of the way the tribbles poured down on Captain Kirk when he opened the grain storage locker on Space Station K-1 in "The Trouble with Tribbles".

Yes, I am a geek.

After the show, we debated if we should try to get in a swim (the weather report said possible thunderstorms, and the sky WAS getting a bit dark) or drive a little further west and check out a place Jeannine has been wanting to go to for years, the Berkshire Botanical Gardens in Stockbridge, MA. We chose the latter, and although it did start sprinkling on the way there, it didn't rain enough to dampen (literally AND figuratively) our enjoyment of this beautiful place. I think the herb garden, with its beautiful design and WONDERFUL aromas, was our favorite spot. Here's a small panoramic image of Jeannine wandering among the sage and cumin and dill.

I had to stop to take a photo of this bench -- not just for its beauty, but for the fact that my daughter and her roommate would likely appreciate the sign next to it.

There were a number of interesting tree houses on the grounds, and Jeannine snapped this shot of me enjoying the view from the top level of one of them.

There were so many beautiful flowers at this place that I could fill up multiple blog pages with images of them. In lieu of that, here are a few of my favorites from what I shot.

Near the end of our perambulations through the gardens, we came upon the "Children's Garden"...

...which was very cute and featured a "Wishing Tree".

Here are a couple of close-ups of some of the "wish tags" attached to the tree.

(I love the spelling of "unicorn" on this one.)

Nearby, there was this lovely mailbox decorated with living plants…

… and this sign:

After getting our fill of gorgeous colors and shapes and inviting scents, Jeannine suggested we have dinner at a place in Great Barrington. I had eaten there once with my friends Rick and Rob, and had raved to Jeanine about the food. It's called "Xicohtencatl", and it serves what is described at authentic Mexican food.

(Here''s their website:

We got great seats on the porch, just as it started raining more heavily. Jeannine had a large plate of scallops which she said were the best she'd ever had, and I had a whole Tilapia on a bed of greens. And it WAS a whole fish, head and all. I had never had fish served that way, and it had also been a while since I'd had to carefully extract the bones from a meal so I didn't swallow any. But it was GREAT. I would heartily recommend this place to anyone. 

We didn't get the swim that we had hoped for -- it poured pretty much the entire drive home -- but it was a wonderful day nonetheless. -- PL


BL said...

Hey! Sounds and looks as if you and Jeannine had a wonderful adventure! LOVE the photos you took,and, a couple of Jeannine pics could be future book jacket photos! Keep on exploring!

amygreenfield said...

What a wonderful garden! It makes me want a wishing tree, too. Thanks so much for the gorgeous photos, especially of Jeannine and the wishing tree and the daylilies. (I don't often see daylilies here, and whenever I do it makes me think of New England.)