April 10, 2014 – I recently spent a warm, spring day in the idyllic, little town of West Stockbridge. Immediately, when I pulled onto Main Street, I noticed how much I liked the look of the town, with its eclectic, yet tastefully painted buildings. As it was one of the first days that it actually felt seasonal after a long, cold winter, there were plenty of people bustling about. I was happy to see that the public parking lot on Center Street was still there and had a space for me to park. I decided to start at the farther end of Main Street, at the Stanmeyer Gallery and Shaker Dam Coffeehouse, as I was desperate for a cup of java. Inside, I found a wonderful coffee bar with a very knowledgeable barista behind the counter. There were all sorts of delectable baked goods on display. The amazing photography of John Stanmeyer is interspersed throughout the coffeehouse. The atmosphere of the place was very welcoming, and it was easy to find a secluded spot in a comfy chair, to hang out and enjoy my coffee.
Next, I made my way to Charles Baldwin and Sons. This store has been in West Stockbridge since 1912, and there is literally something for everyone! I picked up a bottle of their vanilla extract (which is the only brand that I prefer to use), and I also found a couple of cute items to give to my kids this Easter. The store features several old time oddities, like a fortune telling machine, a penny candy counter and an old fashioned photo booth. Products that run the range from practical to quirky, and I could have spent hours in there just looking through all of the fun stuff.
>From there, I headed across the road to the Hotchkiss Gallery. This is easily one of my favorite art galleries in the Berkshires. Artist Joel Hotchkiss is well known for his whimsical mobiles and I was fortunate enough to get a ‘behind the scenes’ peek at his studio, where he creates and manufactures the mobiles. There he explained the process of creating the mobiles, how he comes up with new ideas and the different materials that he uses. He has been exploring this art form since the late seventies, and judging from his pieces, he is clearly an expert in the world of mobiles. The gallery is serene and peaceful, as the mobiles float silently above your head and he also carries several other artists’ work, such as jewelry, pottery and other unusual items.
By now, it was time for lunch, so I went next door to the newly opened No. 6 Depot Roastery and Cafe, where I met up with a couple of colleagues. This cafe is unassuming from the outside, and I wouldn’t have thought to go there to eat, but upon learning that they had some delicious sounding vegan options, we decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised, as it was very casual, yet clean and the staff was very gracious. I actually had a hard time deciding what to eat, because there were so many tasty sounding options, finally settled on a bowl of lentil soup. Though there was a small seating area in the main room, we chose to sit in the larger, sun-drenched gallery. While I waited for my food, I perused the art on the walls and then some shelves that they stock with local and interesting food products. Afterwards, we all agreed that the food was excellent (mine being literally the best bowl of lentil soup that I have ever had!), and I look forward to returning to try other menu items and spending another day in this fun, little town!