WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Village Beautiful held its annual birthday party Thursday morning for the United States of America, which turned 243 this July 4. (Just 11 years younger than Williamstown.)
The Williamstown Youth Center brought the cake. Seventeen amateur chefs brought the pie.
The former, a float that rolled down Spring Street in the annual town parade, was inedible. The pies were entered in an inaugural contest that was added this year to a full day of activities organized by the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce.
The day began with the fourth annual Fun Run for Independence 5K at 8 a.m. and was scheduled to conclude with fireworks at Taconic Golf Course.
In between, there were to be short films at Images Cinema, a dramatic reading of founding documents at Williams College's Stetson Library and, of course, pies.
Emily Bourguignon came out on top in the inaugural contest, which was appropriate for the first-time competitor.
"I have never entered a pie-baking contest before, but this seemed like so much fun," Bourguignon said. "I'm the co-chair for the Williamstown Theatre Festival Guild, and I was helping out with the parade. [WTF director of audience engagement Antonello Di Benedetto] was like, 'There's a pie baking contest,' and I said, 'OK, I can fit in one more thing this morning."
Bourguignon's "Cherry in Strawberry Shrub Sauce with Amaretti Cookie Crust" edged out runner-rup Jason McDowell-Green and Maya Davis' rhubarb cardamom cream and third-place winner Venetia Greenhalgh's strawberry pie.
For Bourguignon, contests may be a new experience, but creating new pies is very familiar.
"This is one that I've been working on a new recipe for, so this is it's debut," she said. "Pretty good debut.
"I'm very bad at following recipes, so it's not so much that I should get a pat on the back for coming up with something new. It's more that I'm just very bad at thinking anybody else knows better than I do. I don't measure things. I just sort of throw it together."
Her instincts paid off according to the panel of judges that had the arduous task of spending their morning sampling pies in the air-conditioned comfort of the Williams Bookstore while most of the town baked in the sun as either spectators or marchers in the 11 a.m. parade.
And as much as Bourguignon may claim to be bad at following others' recipes, her Independence Day triumph inspired her to join their ranks.
"I didn't write it down, but I totally will now," she said with a laugh.
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Note the underwing camouflage gray and the upper-side wing of sky blue for this spring azure on a red maple.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — During May and June at various sites in the Berkshires, close examination of the floral bloom reveals some welcome surprises regarding pollinating insects.
Just pretend to drop down in scale until you are a tiny person, like in "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift, walking among the mushrooms and fleabanes in bold bloom towering above. What a dynamic environment is the microcosm surrounding you with its assorted insect fauna.
Before long you may encounter one of our smallest butterflies, a spring azure (Celastrina ladon) imbibing at red clover, appearing gigantic in reduced scale. Pause for awhile as you may become mesmerized by its stunning overall sky-blue upper wing scales, and become fascinated by its ability to suck up nectar with its uncoiled proboscis. Look for black ants not attacking with their huge powerful jaws, but with "antennae a twitter," tending the butterfly's segmented larva, that in appearance suggests a segmented gum drop.
Well known in research literature, this association is an expected novelty since like other "blues" that exhibit the same phenomena, spring azure is also a lycaenid, in the family Lycaenidae, wherein a curious and complicated story plays out.
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