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For locals and tourists alike, Salem Willows has been the heart of Salem for generations; photo by Robin Catalano.
For locals and tourists alike, Salem Willows has been the heart of Salem for generations; photo by Robin Catalano.

Beyond the Witches: 48 Hours in Salem

And now a Halloween-bubble-bursting PSA: there were never any witches in Salem.

At least not in 1692, and not in the cauldron-stirring, body-snatching way Hollywood would have us believe. And while this minor thrill—that something wicked supposedly this way comes—might seem like a reason to visit Salem, it’s not the best one, not by a mile. The real reason to make a weekend getaway to Salem is because this quirky, energized city has evolved from its roots as a maritime trading power into an eclectic destination with dozens of options for exploration—most of them affordable and accessible, and nearly all of them memorable.

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For locals and tourists alike, Salem Willows has been the heart of Salem for generations; photo by Robin Catalano.
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Beyond the Witches: 48 Hours in Salem

Over the centuries, Salem has managed to steadfastly preserve its history while transforming into a modern tourism destination—one with a penchant for… Keep Reading

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Arts & Entertainment

Photo of indigenous American dancer in traditional ceremonial attire: The Land On Which We Dance Inside/Out Performance; photo byGrace Kathryn Landefeld.
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This Land Is Our Land

An Arapaho proverb says, “All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us, and if we listen, we can hear… Keep Reading

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Food & Drink

Juliete tomatoes on the vine; photo by Jason Velázquez
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Dried tomatoes: Summer’s bounty becomes winter’s secret ingredient

As you who follow my food rants know, I’m a big fan of the dehydrator. In mid-September mine has one major task—drying tomatoes. This year the fruit of choice is the Juliet grape tomato. A bounty of them will provide the special touch to the soups, stews, and pasta dishes of winter. Keep Reading

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Green beans and carrots: Good individually, spectacular baked together

A ridiculously small space can yield massive taste and nutrition. Green beans picked right off the vine in your yard have a taste you'll remember — especially when you combine them with their BBF, the humble carrot, and some spices.
• Green beans and carrots, ready to go in the oven; photo by Sheila Velazquez. Keep Reading

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WDIJW? (What Did I Just Watch?)

Screenshot from The Absence of Eddy Table, by Rune Spaans; source: Vimeo.
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WDIJW? The Absence of Eddy Table

The Absence of Eddy Table, by Rune Spaans, is a short animated flick that contains some of the exact elements that inspired the “What Did I Just Watch” series. It’s twisted. It’s dark. Its brilliant. Enjoy! The Absence of Eddy Table from Rune Spaans on Vimeo. Keep Reading

Dried tomatoes: Summer’s bounty becomes winter’s secret ingredient

Juliete tomatoes on the vine; photo by Jason Velázquez
Juliete tomatoes on the vine; photo by Jason Velázquez

As you who follow my food rants know, I’m a big fan of the dehydrator. In mid-September mine has one major task—drying tomatoes. This year the fruit of choice is the Juliet grape tomato. A bounty of them will provide the special touch to the soups, stews, and pasta dishes of winter.

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Treading a Spiritual Path:
Hiking Shaker Mountain

Shaker Reservoir in late Summer; submitted photo.
Shaker Reservoir in late Summer; submitted photo.

In this place, footfalls seem softer. The air somehow seems easier to breathe, and the rays of sunshine that stream between the birches and pines more brilliant. The soil even smells sweeter. In this place, where water shushes through rock-strewn brooks and the wind plays the trees like tambourines, centuries-old history comes alive like a heartbeat.

This place is Shaker Mountain.

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Snapshot Travel Guide — Exeter, New Hampshire

A view of Exeter from across the banks of the Squamscott River, a popular body of water for canoeing, kayaking, boating, and fishing along some sections; photo by Robin Catalano.
Exeter was founded in 1638 by a group of Puritan rabble-rousers who were tossed out of the Massachusetts Bay Colony for their dissident religious views. It’s also the birthplace of sculptor Daniel Chester French; photo by Robin Catalano.
You won’t want for food choices in Exeter. Our top pick at hip-and-healthful Laney & Lu: Thai peanut noodles with carrots, beets, cabbage, avocado, beet-pickled egg, and watermelon radish; photo by Robin Catalano.
The Ladd-Gilman House, originally built in 1721, was the state treasury during the Revolution. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s now a museum, and houses one of only 26 surviving copies of the Dunlap Broadside (the first reproduction copies of the Declaration of Independence) and two rare drafts of the U.S. Constitution; photo by Robin Catalano.
Lest you think Exeter is all crusty historical stuff, every Labor Day Weekend, the town hosts a UFO Festival, to commemorate a mysterious incident. In 1965, a young man was hitching a ride home when he noticed flashing red lights that seemed to hover over a farm, then move toward him. The same evening, a woman was found sitting in her car along Route 108, visibly shaken from having been followed for miles by a “huge object with flashing red lights.” Two police officers later testified to having seen the same unidentified object. Virtually all shops and restaurants in the Downtown Area Commercial District get in on the alien-invasion fun.
Despite its small size and walkability, downtown Exeter has a surprising number of shops. Serendipity is a great choice for housewares, gifts, and clothing; photo by Robin Catalano.
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We always think of you when we’re off adventuring — wouldn’t it be great if we could ALL go touring together?

On second thought, that might look like an invasion from Greylock Nation! But we can share snapshot moments that let you in our fave finds in both near and far–flung locales (is “near-flung a thing?) If you’ve been to this destination, leave a comment below to share your favorite restaurant, shop, attraction, or other feature.

Green beans and carrots: Good individually, spectacular baked together

I sing the praises of my 30” X 72” back and knee-saving stand planter. It has yielded early crops of lettuce, chard, basil, bok choi, bunching onions, parsley, oregano, more. But where it shines is in producing later crops, planted when the others have been harvested, leaving beautiful, rich soil that begs, “More, we can do more.” And we can.

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Savoring Homegrown Onions

A photo of a pile of assorted onions on a table: A treasure trove of oniony goodness; photo by Sheila Velazquez
A treasure trove of oniony goodness; photo by Sheila Velazquez

I stepped out into the cool morning air, coffee in hand, and thought, time to pull the onions. When you’ve gardened or farmed for a long time, things sometimes hit you suddenly. You don’t have to think about them. The day was warm but dry, mid-August, and the beginning of the harvest season. My harvest for one is not time-consuming, and it recharges my seasonal battery as nothing else can.

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This Land Is Our Land

Photo of indigenous American dancer in traditional ceremonial attire: The Land On Which We Dance Inside/Out Performance; photo byGrace Kathryn Landefeld.
The Land On Which We Dance Inside/Out Performance; photo byGrace Kathryn Landefeld.

Jacob’s Pillow shifts the conversation on indigenous dance through its landmark celebration The Land on Which We Dance.

Editor’s Note: This independent, original article generously sponsored by Jacob’s Pillow.

An Arapaho proverb says, “All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us, and if we listen, we can hear them.” It’s an elegantly simple explanation of the interconnectedness of life on and with earth—a central belief in most, if not all, indigenous traditions.

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Weekend Pick: Basquiat x Warhol at The School

Outdoor photo of the front of The Shainman Gallery, formerly the Martin Van Buren Elementary School in Kinderhook, New York, hosts Basquiat x Warhol through September 7; photo by Robin Catalano.
The Shainman Gallery, in Kinderhook, New York, hosts Basquiat x Warhol through September 7; photo by Robin Catalano.

The pretty and petite Village of Kinderhook in Columbia County, New York, is a place where you’d expect to find historic buildings, vintage-inspired restaurants, and well-groomed, flower-lined streets. And it does have all of those things—plus an unexpected, worth-the-detour extra: The School, Jack Shainman Gallery, which hosts the world-class Basquiat x Warhol exhibit through September 7.

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TLC #74 — DJ Oli Real on Summerfest Talent Show

DJ Oli Real; photo courtesy Oli Real
DJ Oli Real; photo courtesy Oli Real

A Westside Legends Community Event

We spoke this week with DJ Oli Real about the first ever Summerfest Talent Show taking place at Pittsfield’s Durant Park on August 18 from 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. This community event is family friendly and hope to amuse, entertain, and showcase some of the best sides of West Side.

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Bawdy and naughty, the Merry Wives of Windsor demo their wiles at Shakespeare & Company

MaConnia Chesser, Nigel Gore, and Jennie M. Jadow as Meg Page, Sir John Falstaff, and Alice Ford (respectively) in The Merry Wives of Windsor; photo by Nile Scott Studios.
MaConnia Chesser, Nigel Gore, and Jennie M. Jadow as Meg Page, Sir John Falstaff, and Alice Ford (respectively) in The Merry Wives of Windsor; photo by Nile Scott Studios.

Stirred up by just the right cast, the production is a winning recipe of conspiracy, chaos, and comedy.

No youth with a shred of decency or self-respect should seek to emulate Sir John Falstaff. On the other hand, if you happen already to be plump and middle-aged, yet randy as ever despite increasingly rusty charms, you could be forgiven for taking some winking inspiration from the dissolute knight’s bacchanalian habits. Cantankerous and crafty, Falstaff, dubbed “Shakespeare’s greatest creation” by Orson Welles, is the rotund and besotted hub of The Merry Wives of Windsor, on stage now through September 1 in the Roman Garden Theatre at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox.

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The need to nurture: We all need somebody, or something, to love

Baby African Violets waiting to be separated from their mother leaves; photo by Sheila Velazquez.
Baby African Violets waiting to be separated from their mother leaves; photo by Sheila Velazquez.

What typically comes to mind when we hear the word “nurture” is a mother holding a baby. But nurturing is not a gender-specific activity, nor is it only applied to human babies. In fact, if you think of every instance when you viewed a scene or picture of a farmer cradling a lamb, calf, or chicken, that is what nurturing is—caring for a living being that often cannot express its thanks. The object of nurturing can be a child or other human, or it can be a puppy, kitten, apple tree, or flowering plant. All require nurturing in order to thrive.

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