An appreciation: A colorful fall weekend in western MA

weekend travel, things to do in the Berkshires, mike’s maze, falconry, halloween, pumpkins, entertainment, fall foliage

It’s that time of year again: When I head up to New England to enjoy the company of friends, the fall foliage and other spectacular pleasures in and around the Berkshires of western Massachusetts (MA). It’s the perfect respite before the cold and gray winter settles in.

The color was great this year, and looks to be even better at peak in a week or so. There was a bit of wet weather one morning, but it cleared into a sunny, crisp fall day. The weekend went like this.

weekend travel, things to do in the Berkshires, mike’s maze, falconry, halloween, pumpkin picking, entertainment, fall foliage

Dogs and chipmunks and bears, oh my

An hour or so after my arrival in Leeds, my first walk through the woods was an encounter with a large black bear. Definitely not in NYC anymore.

A falconing we will go

weekend travel, things to do in the Berkshires, mike’s maze, falconry, halloween, pumpkin picking, entertainment, fall foliage

Even more special this year, falconry was added to the must-do list. And I did it! At New England Falconry in Hadley, a group of friends and I had the opportunity to learn about, and free-fly a 14 year-old Harris hawk, known as no. 95 – a stunning raptor from the US southwest.

Highly recommended if you have the chance to see this bird of prey up close.

Zigged when we should have zagged

weekend travel, things to do in the Berkshires, mike’s maze, falconry, halloween, pumpkin picking, entertainment, fall foliage

weekend travel, things to do in the Berkshires, mike’s maze, falconry, halloween, pumpkin picking, entertainment, fall foliage

Or maybe it should have been the other way around. Because this year we changed it up and went to the night maze – the flashlight maze. It was another clever cornstalk creation by Mike Maze’s in Sunderland displaying The Midnight Raven theme and featuring questions based on the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, along with other poets of the past.

While we pondered not weak, but weary, the night maze kicked our butts. We had to give up the ghost… and call it quits before locating the final five puzzles. We were the last group to exit the maze, past closing, and for the first time – we were beaten.

But, never say nevermore.

Picking the perfect pumpkin

weekend travel, things to do in the Berkshires, mike’s maze, falconry, halloween, pumpkin picking, entertainment, fall foliage

I could spend hours in a pumpkin patch selecting the one. Is it the right color, shape? Does it have the right balance and curvature? And on, and on.

A pumpkin farm (if there’s a next visit, I’ll ask the name, solve the mystery) in Whately has a huge selection of pumpkins and gourds, making my choices over the years even harder. But, as my last MA stop before home, I had about 30 minutes to whittle my selection down to three mini pumpkins and one large white one. And also to appropriately document the hundreds of prime choices. One picture is worth… and all that.

Wishing the curious g readers a splendid fall, and may a fall getaway be in your future.

Where’s your favorite seasonal getaway?

Photos © 2014 Janet Giampietro, except for the maze, © 2014 Mike’s Maze

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