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Are We There Yet?: March starts off with a whoosh

By Rebecca Dravis

The town of Adams is throwing a party, and you are all invited.
Adams is known for its awesome affairs, like the Susan B. Anthony Street Fair to the Fall Run party to the Columbus Day RambleFest extravaganza. So this weekend's shindig - ThunderFest at the Adams Visitors Center on Saturday, March 1 - should be no different.
ThunderFest is a celebration in honor of the Thunderbolt Ski Race, which happens at 11 a.m. First, a word on the ski race itself: The Thunderbolt Trail was originally cut in 1934 and the annual race in the 1930s and 1940s attracted world-class skiers and Olympians. A few years ago the trail and race were restored, and this year, 120 skiers and snowboarders will hike to the summit of Mount Greylock and take a wild ride back down. Specators are more than welcome; visit here for the rules: http://thunderboltskirun.com/spectators.
After the race - or even if the race itself doesn't happen because of lack of snow (insert crazy laughter here) - the party will go on from noon to 5 p.m. and will feature food, music, a campfire to warm up to and activities for the kids provided by the Adams Youth Center. For all the details, click here: https://www.facebook.com/ThunderFestAdams.
If that gets you in the mood for celebrations of winter sports (or if you are suffering from Olympic withdrawal) head up to the Peter Foote Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Rink in North Adams for Christmas Brook Figure Skating Club's annual show, titled "Skating Through the Golden Years." The show begins at 2:30 p.m. and features skaters from 3 to 16 years old. Admission is $6 for ages 3 and up.
I have one more Saturday event to mention, if you are looking for something that doesn't involve snow, ice or blades. How about a Rubik's Cube competition instead? Yes, that frustrating but addicing game from the 1980s has quite a following, including locally, where a Williamstown teenager has competed on the national level. In fact, it's this teen - Ric Donati - who is hosting the official competition at Goodrich Hall at Williams College. More than 40 people are slated to complete from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you just want to come and watch, there is no charge for spectators.  For a schedule of events, go to: http://union.cubingusa.com/williamswinter2014/schedule.php.
That's all I have for a pretty quiet first weekend of March. We're closing in on spring ... I promise!

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor for iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.

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Are We There Yet?: Is It Spring Yet?

By Rebecca Dravis
Special to iBerkshires

Are you there, God? It's me, Rebecca.

Please God, don't make it snow on Monday. Or Tuesday. Or any other school day before July. And please God, don't make it so cold that even if it's not snowing it hurts to go outside. Or raining so that everything turns to ice. Or all of the above. All at once. It's New England, after all.

Everything that can be done in the house has been done. Kids are stir crazy and cranky. Parents are short­-tempered  and cranky. If I have to watch another ice-­dancing routine on my living room floor, I'll be completely twizzled. If I have to play another game of "Operation," I'll need to be hospitalized.

I know, God, there are a few fun things to to do this weekend. The "Ten Days of Fun" imagination extravaganza continues daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Berkshire Museum, which is also hosting Berkshire Theater Group's performance of "The Emperor's New Clothes" by Hans Christian Andersen at 11 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21 and 22 (berkshiremuseum.org). The play about a king who is so consumed with designer clothing that he thinks about nothing else in his kingdom sounds like fun, even though the only fashion I personally can wrap my head around right now is something, well, to wrap around my head. A hat. A scarf. Anything to keep the snow and rain and cold off of me.

Is there sleet in Heaven, God?

And I know, God, that there are two great (indoor) family fundraisers this weekend, and I do love a good cause, even though my favorite cause right now is Being OK With The 8­Year­Old Watching Eight Hours of Television Today, Tomorrow and the Next Day. Yes, we can go miniature golfing inside the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield on Saturday, Feb. 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to raise money for the Literacy Volunteers of Berkshire County (pittsfieldlibrary.org). And yes, we can go bowling at Greylock Bowl & Golf in North Adams on Sunday, Feb. 23, from 1 to 6 p.m. to raise money for Child Care of the Berkshires' Youth Mentoring Program (ccberkshire.org).

So I know, God, that's it's pretty selfish of me to complain that there's nothing to do and... That. We. Have. To. Get. These. Kids. Back. In. School.

Now.

Please!

Pretty please?

Surely, God, you can arrange so that spring come a little early to New England, can't you? I would really appreciate it.

From, your friend, Rebecca.

h the last few days of vacation!

Berkshire County native Rebecca Dravis of Williamstown is a former journalist who now works for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts. She can be reached at rdravis@verizon.net.
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Are We There Yet?: Start Vacation With Indoor, Outdoor Options

By Rebecca Dravis
Special to iBerkshires

Another week, another snow day — or maybe even two.

How fabulous, right before February vacation.

Happy Valentine's Day to us!

We're now facing 10 days of sheer boredom... or, how about 10 Days of Play? For the second year, the Berkshire Museum is transforming its Crane Room into anything a child might imagine, using readily available and recyclable materials from cardboard to fabric and tape. Presented in partnership with the Transition Team of Pittsfield and Pop­-Up Adventure Play, this is the epitome of child­-directed play, something pretty much everyone agrees that today's kids don't get enough of. Haven't you ever been tempted to just throw your kids into a room with no screens, just lots of random stuff, and see what they can come up with? Here's your chance!

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Feb. 14 through Feb. 23 and is free with museum admission. For more information, visit berkshiremuseum.org.

That is my definite stay-inside choice for the weekend and upcoming vacation week. But if you are game for going outside, consider a North County tradition: Winter Fest in downtown North Adams on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature ice sculpting, music, pony rides, a fun run/walk at 10:30 a.m., the annual Chowder Cook­-Off from noon to 2 p.m., horse­-drawn wagon rides and more. It's a fun day out for the whole family... even though the weather forecast right now shows a high of only 20 degrees. Or maybe the cold is a good thing for Winter Fest. It depends on how you look at it, I guess! For more details and a specific schedule of events, click here.

And if you're looking for more vacation week fun, beyond the Berkshire Museum, check out another area museum: the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. They are running drop-­in workshops in which all ages can explore how the art of Norman Rockwell, Ruth Sanderson, and Wendell Minor tell stories in pictures, and create artworks in mixed media that express their own ideas. These run from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and are free with museum admission. For more details, visit nrm.org.

Stay warm, stay sane ... and I'll be back next week with some ideas on making it through the last few days of vacation!

Berkshire County native Rebecca Dravis of Williamstown is a former journalist who now works for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts. She can be reached at rdravis@verizon.net.
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Are We There Yet?: Animals Everywhere!

By Rebecca Dravis
Special to iBerkshires

After a recent snowstorm, my husband beckoned our daughter to the front door and told her to look out on the front sidewalk. There, clear as day in the fresh snow, was a trail of animal prints.

Noelle was delighted, and we spent the next few minutes from the warmth of the house guessing what animal could have left those prints. It was a probably a cat, we decided, although we rarely see stray cats in our neighborhood. We do have woods behind our house so we regularly see rabbits and deer and a woodchuck every now and then.

Say what you want about winter and snowstorms and snow days from school (oh, joy!), but the opportunity fresh snow presents in seeing the wildlife around us is amazing. That's why this weekend I am recommending a family tracking day at Berkshire South Regional Community Center in Great Barrington.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, families with kids ages 6 and up are invited to join Flying Deer Nature Center instructors for a day of mystery, intrigue and family fun in the forest.

At the Family Track Detective Workshop, families will learn to identify common animal tracks and trails and embark on a journey that will hone their skills of awareness and observation. This day will be filled with fun and learning for everyone in the family.

Space is limited, so registration is required at berkshiresouth.org. The cost is $50 per adult/child pair, with $20 per additional family member, and there is a maximum of two children per adult. Saturday's weather looks to be cold but sunny, a perfect day for an educational hike through the woods!

If your kids would rather see some live animals -- not just their prints -- in an indoor setting, head on over to Berkshire Community College on Sunday, Feb. 9, for the 13th annual Not Your Average Dog Show. The family­-oriented event, which is open to all dogs (not just purebreds), is free for both human and canine spectators. Donations are encouraged and will benefit students through the college’s annual fund. State Representative William Smitty Pignatelli will emcee the show and Gene Dellea, president of the BCC Foundation, will serve as ringmaster. Contests include Best Trick, Best Dressed, Best Smile and more.

The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. For registration forms, event rules and regulations, visit www.berkshirecc.edu/dogshow or contact Ann at aphillips@berkshirecc.edu or 413­236­2185.

One last note, looking a little past the weekend: For those Red Sox fans out there, the 2013 World Series trophy is coming to the Berkshires on Monday, Feb. 10. There will be public viewings from 1 to 2 p.m. at St. Mary's Elementary and Middle School in Lee, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Mingo's Sports Bar & Grill in North Adams (inside Greylock Bowl), and from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Infield, an indoor multi­-sports complex located at 10 Lyman St. in Pittsfield.

Even with this snow and cold, let's remember our boys of summer!

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