This week in the Berkshires, summer starts.
The Solstice arrives, the sun stands still.
Are you standing still?
Take in the peonies, the bluebirds, and the construction on Main Street in Great Barrington. THAT will stand you still. Oh, but it is all for the good.
Summer starts officially in the Berkshires and at my house, when the Tanglewood season begins.
The lawn at Tanglewood is getting lots of attention right now. The grass is fussed and tended, in preparation for the thousands of music lovers who will spread blankets and listen to the music of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, James Taylor, Diana Krall, Jessye Norman, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Sheryl Crow. Did you know that kids get free lawn tickets at Tanglewood? Or that attending a rehearsal on Saturday morning is a wonderful way to tune your ears to music you are learning to appreciate?
Tanglewood is one of the reasons we moved to the Berkshires 18 years ago.
Tanglewood and picnics on the lawn are where many important moments in our family have transpired.
Today I celebrate a new publication by Gina Hyams, An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice contributor and original Out of the Mouths of Babes cast member and amazing Instagrammer. Her new book is The Tanglewood Picnic.
If you’d like to win a copy of The Tanglewood Lawn, please read the piece below and leave a comment. Tell me about your memorable picnics. I will select a winner from the comments on this thread and let you know by Friday June 19th, opening day for the summer season at Tanglewood. At right about 7:55 PM, when the bell rings on the grounds of the lawn to alert people to the impending thrilling beginning of the concert, I will announce the winner here on Laundry Line Divine. (for you close readers and Tanglewood mavens, I know the REALLY official opening is July 3….but in my mind, the moment music starts and there are people on the lawn, that season is open!)
The Cake Walk
Tanglewood picnics are as basic to my son’s life as they are to his parents. While not quite conceived in a shady spot near the Shed, he was very nearly born there. And, at one week old, he made, along with Boccocini and Sun-Dried Tomatoes from Murray’s Cheese Shop on Bleecker Street in Manhattan, what has become a regular weekly visit to the Lawn at Tanglewood.
He learned to walk at Tanglewood.
His hero, Yo-Yo Ma shook his hand and gave him sage advice at 12 years of age. (“Don’t fuck up”)
He studied cello with a former cellist of the BSO.
And, at 18, he accepted his diploma of graduation from Monument Mountain Regional High School on the stage of the Shed.
I walked my pregnant self all over the grounds of Tanglewood at picnics and hours spent listening to rehearsals and concerts. We paced our son to sleep at the back of the Lawn so we could stay to the very end of concerts when he was just a few weeks old. My husband smuggled a snuggled sleeping infant in to the upper reaches of Ozawa Hall where he and Leon Fleischer took in a Sunday morning recital, but that story does not involve picnics.
This story however does. We were on the Lawn on a Sunday afternoon, just one week after Ben’s first birthday. We spent a lovely afternoon in the company of my sister’s in-laws, who are fervent BSO fans and mighty picnic packers with our usual cheese and meat spread, waiting eagerly for their dessert.
Ben, who at that point was eating what babies eat, gnawing on the ends of the baguette, his pudgy fingers wrapped around a peach, crawled around the blanket.
We’d lift him out of the center and set him out on the grass where he’d motor around socially. He kept his eye on dessert too, though, up to that point, no refined sugar had passed his lips.
Before the bell rang, Paula laid a Pineapple Upside Down cake on her lap to slice. Ben bee-lined towards her and without warning, got up on his two feet for the first time and walked to her chair. He stopped short of putting his sticky hands in the center of the cake to watch, drooling as she cut fat slices of sweet, dark, pineapple cake for us. He crowed with glee when we applauded his first steps taken just before the bell rang us all to attention.
We all ate that cake, including this child, who to this day continues to associate Tanglewood Picnics with sweetness and celebration.
Pineapple Wheel Cake
from the Settlement Cookbook
Vintage (26th) Edition
Copyright 1944 by The Settlement Cook Book Company
1 large can sliced pineapple
¼ cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs, separated
1-teaspoon baking powder
1 cup whipping cream
Melt butter in iron skillet; cover with brown sugar, spreading it evenly. Place 1 slice of the cored pineapple in the center on top of sugar; cut rest of the slices in half, crosswise; arrange these in a circle around the center slice like the spokes of a wheel, rounded edges facing one way. Fill space with walnut meats and candied cherries. Make sponge bake (their typo) batter, using 4 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, and 1 teaspoon baking powder, pour over pineapple wheel, place in moderate over and cake (Their typo) until firm. Turn upside down. Serve cold with whipped cream.
Let the commenting begin!
Meet Gina at the next Berkshire Festival of Women Writers Lean-In events on Sunday June 28 at the Shaker Dam Coffee House.