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Editor’s letter

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Hi, friends:

This summer, I’ve been trying to do fewer work lunches and more “work walks.” Of course, Northampton has plenty of great options for lunch (I’m partial to Woodstar and Bombay Royale), but I like to get a little exercise during the day, and walking is a nice way to catch up with colleagues and friends. A few minutes into my walk with Sarah Buttenwieser, it became clear that this lunchtime excursion was as much fun as it was business. Her energy and excitement is contagious, whether she’s talking about her passion for Pure Barre or her support for a local political candidate. It makes sense that she describes herself as a “writer. networker. brainstormer.” She can add one more handle to that list: “sage adviser,” which is her unofficial title at PaintBox Theatre, a children’s theater company whose office is based in Northampton and whose performing base is The Williston Theatre at the Williston Northampton School in Easthampton. Buttenwieser, a mother of four, has been involved with PaintBox in one way or another for 15 years, during which time she has written articles for publications ranging from the Gazette to The New York Times.

Sometimes, I plan themed issues; this one just kind of happened. In his latest installment of “Friday Takeaway,” columnist Ilan Stavans also writes about his love of the theater. Tonight and tomorrow, he will be performing his one-man show “The Oven” as part of the Ko Festival at Amherst’s Holden Theater. As different as PaintBox and Ko Fest are in many ways, they both encourage imagination and improvisation. As Stavans writes, “There is a depth to the stage that reality doesn’t have; it isolates human behavior, inviting us to study it with a sensitive lens. No other artistic form is capable of that because no other artistic form is as complete. Live theater lives in the present and then is heard no more.” You can read Steve Pfarrer’s review of his written companion to the performance, “The Oven: An Anti-Lecture,” published by University of Massachusetts Press, in this week’s “Book Bag.”

Finally, I’m happy to introduce — or, for many of you, to reintroduce — the Valley’s own Betty Rosbottom, who gave us a new “Potluck” recipe and essay for this issue. Rosbottom is the author of 12 cookbooks, including her most recent one, “Soup Nights” (Rizzoli 2016). She gives cooking classes at The Baker’s Pin in Northampton, appears monthly on WWLP’s Mass Appeal, and was recently named by Epicurious as one of The 100 Greatest Home Cooks of All Time. I really enjoyed her contribution this week — it’s kind of like an edible postcard from Paris. You’ll see.

Have a nice weekend.

Brooke Hauser