What can we call this week? This week, between Christmas and the New Year, when the frenzy is over, but we’re still taking a break from the rest of life? We’re still living on chocolate bars from the stockings, and we forget to eat lunch. This is the week, every year, when Sadie gets a cold, and she huddles in bed and confesses she’s been reading a book about a girl who has consumption, and asks does she have consumption? And why, she asks, do I always get sick on school vacation? And I answer, like I always do, that it’s because she needs a rest, and her body’s telling her it’s time to slow down and  read a couple a dozen books, which she does. I go into town for more library books, and the streets are filled with people who must have bought special coats for their week in the Berkshires. They all wear shiny puffer coats in black or silver, with tall spotless boots and fancy knit caps. I imagine there must be a section of every department store in New York marked “Berkshire Wear.” There must be, or else how would they all be wearing the same thing? They’ve been skiing, and now they’re fighting about where to eat dinner. I kind of love them. I want to take them home with me and cook them dinner. But I stay quiet and they stay fighting and we just walk around each other on the narrow sidewalk. 


This week, Joey and I have been walking. We have a dream of one day taking a week to walk the length of the Berkshires from the south end to the north, and we’re really going to do it. We want to walk on the back roads, stopping at the B&B’s we’ve never had reason to visit and the restaurants we’ve never been to. We want to walk the roads we drive every day, so we can see all the details we miss when we speed by so quickly.


So this week, we’ve been training. The girls have been okay on their own for a bit, crafting, reading, watching things, fighting, and doing the things they do when we’re not there. And every day, we’ve been walking. I don’t know when we’ll really get to do it, but when it’s time, we’ll be ready.


Joey bought me a thermos for Christmas, a big Stanley number with a full-sized cup. Yesterday, we filled it with spiked apple cider, and we walked down to the supermarket and a little bit further. This is also the week we got married. Eleven years ago, tomorrow.


This is the week that Joey broke my last favorite glass I bought in the airport in Morocco years ago. I heard the crash, and I saw his head just drop, and I knew it had to be the Moroccan glass.

“It must be time to go to Morocco again,” I said.

We’re always talking about trips we never take. We have so many little boxes on our book shelf, each with a few dollars we shoved in there and gave to the other. This is for England, we say. This is for the road trip around the country. This is for Morocco. Santa Fe. Africa.

Somehow, now, this is the only trip I’m thinking about. Walking here, from home to the old fairgrounds, from here to the Red Lion Inn. From there to Edith Wharton’s house, from there to Melville’s and from there all the way up Mt. Greylock. I’m thinking that the best remedy for wanting to leave a place might just be to go deeper into it.

IMG_3719I hope everyone is having such a good week of in between. The new year’s coming, and soon it will be time to speed up again. Let’s get ready to start with new breath in our lungs.

(And thank you to everyone who participated in our breakfast conversation! Aided by you, I made Heidi’s cardamom cinnamon rolls, and they were exactly what I wanted. I might just have to make them a tradition. And big congrats to Noreen, who won Megan Gordon’s beautiful book.)


  1. says

    this is lovely. I didn’t realize you lived in the Berkshires – I LOVE them. Have a friend who lives there and have made some very fond memories around there. Actually, I’ve never visited in the winter because I don’t have a shiny puffy coat. smirk.

  2. Rebecca says

    My husband was just talking about going for a walk. After this, I might take him up on the offer. Our town can’t be as beautiful as yours though.

  3. Alna Kleid says

    Waiting in a medical office for Al, I picked up a July issue of”Travel and Leisure” featuring Italy but was attracted to an article on The Berkshires and of course, our Great Niece, Alana Chernila of Great Barrington. I stole the magazine!

  4. Anna says

    I absolutely agree with your idea of digging in. We came home from a big vacation a few years ago…it was exhilarating. I realized the newness, or the discoveries are what refueled and energized us. I vowed that when we returned home I would constantly be looking for new ways to experience where we live. It’s been a lot of fun. Have made unexpected friends. Learned a lot. Picked up tremendous new hobbies and interests and am never so happy as to come home after a trip away.

  5. Kristen says

    Oh, how familiar this sounds! Our plans are for the Appalachian Trail, and England, and Alaska, and and and. . . . But for now I try to just love the western Massachusetts mountains around me and believe it is enough for today.

    This in between week needs a name for sure. And I”m so glad I”m not the only one overindulging in chocolate.

    Wishing you a peaceful 2014, Alana!

  6. pas says

    There is a special expression in German for these couple of days between Christmas and New Year’s. They are called “zwischen den Jahren” or “between the years”.

    Happy 2014! :-)

  7. Sarah Anne says

    Recently, I found a card at my local bookstore, and bought it to put in my little office. It has a picture of a woman wearing purple and long earrings, and it says
    “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. -Marcel Proust”
    That said, earlier tonight, I posted a world map that we got from doctors without borders on our cork board with notes about where I’d like to go on stickies. So I’m not sure this quote has to do with geography for me, as much as continually having new eyes in my relationships, and always more love.
    Happy new year Alana, and happy anniversary to you too. Will you come to Denver sometime and go to yoga class with me? Will that count as travel? :) We can walk there.

  8. Sally says

    I'[ve been following you for a while now but your comment about the Berkshire Wear section in NY department stores nearly made me die of laughter. We live just west of Pittsfield and just south of Albany (we can actually see Mt Greylock from our windows!) so we feel your pain when “they” invade on holiday weekends. We giggle at their perfectly pressed flannel shirts when they saunter into the diner on Sunday mornings… Oh man. 😉

    • Patricia says

      I live in a small village on the Hudson River and every summer we are “invaded” by tourists. Living “smack dab” in the center of the little village I walk out my front door and there they are. Its taken me about three years to realize, without these brightly and overdressed sightseers our little village would be in dire straights. So now I smile and nod and say “Good morning” or “Nice Day” – they take away a feeling that “we” are special and they leave some money to pay for our village expenses and keep our small shops afloat. Oh we breathe a deep collective sigh when they invasion slows in the fall and winter but we plan events to bring them in even as we grit our teeth because there is no where to park on “our” streets. So think of them as colorful butterflies, they come, they taste our nectar, leave behind their pollan and soon they fly away to warmer climates.

  9. Amy says

    I have to laugh. We live in Beaver Creek Colorado and the legions of perfectly planned puffy coat outfits have taken over for the season. That is how we know they are tourists (well, the coats and the furry boots).

    I love the idea of just walking to experience so much of what we take for granted. I know what I will be doing more of this year.

    • alana says

      Ha! Good question! I’m not sure what gives those hats away, but I’d have to say maybe they have earflaps or tassels or funny things like that, and they always look new! Perhaps there’s a pattern out there for “fancy tourist ski hat”? :)

  10. Dana says

    Yesterday there was a two hour delay at my kids’ school. This is our first winter in the Berkshires. I made the off-hand comment “oh, today we will have enough time to walk to school.” My nine year old and seven year old held me to it. We walked just over four miles in 12 degree weather with the dog. It was a beautiful morning:-)


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