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Holly and Thalia Angell Hardman  

When I left the area in the late 70’s, I was certain that I would never live in the Berkshires again. North Adams was in the midst of bleak, depressing times. Drugs seemed to be everywhere. My friends and I seemed to be getting into trouble constantly. It felt as though the mountains were closing in on me, suffocating me. I couldn’t get out fast enough. I had no ambition other than to somehow make a life somewhere else. I lived in Boston, then Los Angeles, then New York. I was working in film; and I walked, talked, ate, and slept my work, until September 2001.

On the morning of the 11th, I awoke to the deafening rumble of a jet plane flying above my apartment, and, for the next two hours, watched from my rooftop, as three thousand and more people died an unholy death. In the weeks that followed, struggling to accept what had happened, I resolved to make something better, to do something better, to be someone better. I resolved to live with more care and deliberation. I ended a directionless relationship. I would not be getting married. And, to my deep regret, I was certain that I would not be having children.

On the television news night after night, I watched helpless Afghani orphans rummaging through the detritus of war. I felt a maternal pull toward them. The nurturing impulse expanded, and the result was an overwhelming feeling of love for orphans around the world. By the end of 2002, I had plans to travel to an orphanage in western Siberia, where my daughter Thalia was waiting for me.

When I thought of raising her in the U.S., my small town roots emerged. She needed fresh air, grass, and trees. She needed warm, down-to-earth people. And, most importantly, I wanted to bring her up in a place where she could believe in the future. The artistic vitality that now defines the Northern Berkshires beckoned, and with it the area’s sense of optimism and hope. Almost thirty years later, I have journeyed with my daughter from her birth land to our beautiful rolling hills. At last, Thalia and I are home.


- Holly Angell Hardman and daughter Thalia