Berkshire Publishing’s offices are in a building on Main Street in a small New England town. The population of Great Barrington is only 7,700, though you’d find that hard to believe during busy holiday weeks or the summer months. Actually, it’s hard to believe even on a midweek evening in the dark of winter. Things are quieter, and we can often get our favorite seats in the bar at Pearl’s, but the town’s still humming thanks to the restaurants and Triplex Cinema, the retirees and the second home owners who often spend much more than weekends here.
I’m off to New York in a few minutes, though, and you might find it interesting to visualize the contrast between Great Barrington and Manhattan. I’ll drive through quiet streets, where the only activity is around the Dunkin Donuts on South Main, and then on unlit country roads all the way into Connecticut and over the New York line, along the Taconic range, low mountains that even in the rainy dark will be a solid presence. I’ll miss the open vistas today, driving both ways in the dark.
From Wassaic I get a train straight to Grand Central Station. I feel like I’ve landed on the moon when I come up the platform and walk into the vast central hall. I look up at the stars in the celestial roof and feel the movement on every side. There are more people in the station than in the whole of Great Barrington. For many people in the Berkshires (only three hours’ travel in total, by car and train) going to New York is a once in a decade, even once in a lifetime, experience. But for me, stepping into the city is another kind of coming home.
I’ll be writing more about Great Barrington, hoping to give our farflung contacts a sense of what it’s like living and growing a global publishing business here in the Berkshire Hills. I often think of W. E. B. Dubois, who was born and grew up here, sledded down the hill outside my window, and went on to be one of the most influential intellectuals and activitists of the 20th century.