Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Clapp Library News

There are perhaps two things of importance which I wish to mention:

1. The Spring Book Sale is on at the Clapp Memorial Library! It opened yesterday (March 30) and will continue on until Saturday (April 4). There are thousands and thousands of items for sale, and most books are about $1. Be sure to stop in and find that book you've been looking for!

2. Also, there has been a reduction in the cost of the renovation and expansion project -- a reduction of $1.3 million! This is great news, and news that I hope will encourage the town to continue moving forward on this project.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring in Bloom

Last weekend, my SF visitor and I went to the Smith College Bulb & Flower Show. It was a delight of spring flowers (and more), blooming in a vast array of brilliant colour and lightly sweet scent. Here are a few pictures from that show, taken by my visitor and used with permission, of course. (Click on the image to enlarge.)


Sunday, March 22, 2009

March Visitor Budget Itinerary

What to do when you have a houseguest for 2 days in the middle of March? Try the following:
  • Pick up from airport/bus station/train station
  • Take pseudo-scenic route home, passing through the Quabbin for pictures, history, and sightings of deer
  • Get home, unpack, shower, grab a snack, catch up
  • Visit the Clapp Library to pick up movies and (hopefully) museum passes; look at the beautiful building and make introductions to the library
  • Stop off at Rannsaka for a bit of local shopping
  • Head over to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art; see the great exhibits, learn about the building of the museum, and definitely visit the gift shop
  • Go next door to Atkins Farms to pick up dinner makings and a pie
  • Run up to Trader Joe's and Target in Hadley to run those errands you didn't get to run during the week and to get the things your houseguest couldn't take on the plane
  • Come back home because everyone is exhausted; fix dinner; watch a movie; eat pie.
  • Sleep in; get up and watch the birds; eat breakfast
  • Make a quick trip to Rannsaka with cash to purchase what there wasn't enough cash to purchase the day before
  • Wheel on up to Amherst, where there are plenty of parking places
  • Visit the Amherst College Museum of Natural History (which is free) to see skeletons of long-extinct animals, locally-discovered dinosaur prints, and a sparkling mineral collection
  • Meander around Amherst; grab a tasty lunch at The Black Sheep and relax
  • Walk by a few shops on your way to the car
  • Drive to Northampton and Smith College, where the Spring Bulb and Flower Show is on display at the Lyman Conservatory -- make sure you don't miss it
  • Explore the college some, finally wending your way to Rt 9 where there are plenty of shops to visit on a sunny Saturday afternoon
  • Finally make your way to Amanouz Cafe for tasty baklava; stick around for an early dinner, if you wish
  • If you didn't eat Mediterranean at Amanouz, eat BiBimBop at the Korean Restaurnt on Rt 9 in Hadley
  • On the way back home, take one more quick pass at Atkins to buy some of their killer cider donuts for an easy Sunday morning breakfast
  • Take a short drive around the Holyoke Mountains to show off a bit more of that March beauty that's around
  • Back at home, download all the pictures you've taken all day long, eat more pie, and watch a movie before crashing in bed.
There are a few things I would have liked to include in all our travelings around, and we might have been able to if not for extenuating circumstances. If you can, get ice cream at Bart's Homemade Cafe, have breakfast at either Kristina's or Roadhouse, take a hike around the Quabbin, take a little more time to visit some of the shops in Amherst (like the bookstore and the scandinavian store), stop off at Nash's, and maybe even catch a film at one of the local independent theatres. There is plenty to do, and two days is just enough time to get a taste of some of the great things the Valley has to offer. I'm looking forward to planning more quick itinerary's for the spring and summer when the weather warms and the options drastically increase.

So there you have it -- two days of fun in the Belchertown sun for pretty much anyone. If you add another day, there's time to see the Berkshires, visit Springfield or Brattleboro, trek around the Holyokes..., but I won't get into those possibilities now.

My sister came in this weekend (Friday morning to Sunday morning), and we had a great time following that itinerary from above. It was a super short visit, but loads of fun.
My camera was off in Utah somewhere, so pictures will come later (she took some fantastic pictures, and I need to get linked to them so I can sort through them and pick some winners) -- be looking for them!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome Spring!

It must be the first day of spring -- I just spotted a robin in my yard!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Signs of Spring, Part 2

At the beginning of the week, I promised more signs of spring -- ones more tangible. I haven't been able to get out much this week so far, but here are a few:

* the red-winged blackbirds are back -- we can hear them in the wetlands,and this morning one of them visited our deck;
* the deer are out in droves -- there was a whole family of the (4-5) on the corner of Bay and Hamilton the other evening, and I often see packs of them cruising along Rt 9;
* shoots are shooting from the ground! (see pictures);
* geese are flying and honking in the sky;
* there are more birds of different feathers at the bird feeders;
* the neighbourhood cats are out and about;
* the Smith College Spring Bulb Show is open.

I anticipate that next week we shall see more signs of spring -- be on the lookout, and I will be, too. I'm especially excited for the budding of the trees and blooming of the bulb flowers. Spring is on its way!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Alien Life Forms: the Pod People

Out on my walk yesterday, in the fair March weather, sun shining, breeze blowing, I trekked into the woods, off the road and towards a plank bridge crossing a roaring brook. And there on the ground, rising up amidst patches of snow and dead leaves, were the pods. Dark purple and sickly green, they caught my eye, obviously developing rapidly in the balmy spring weather.
They look like plant life, but could they be... alien life forms come to take over the state of Massachusetts? Dependent on the thawing of the earth and nourished by the sun until they are ripe enough to send clouds of toxins into our atmosphere or big enough to hatch the beings that develop inside them? To conquer the state and then the nation and then the world? I counted fourteen of these pods in a very small area. Probably enough to take over the whole of Belchertown and possibly surrounding areas. Are we facing another Invasion of the Body Snatchers or War of the Worlds?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Signs of Spring, Part 1: Intangibles

In the past week I have definitely noticed the coming of spring, despite the 8-10+ inches of snow we received last Monday that buried us in. And today as I took a walk in the brilliant sunshine, I noticed even more, in those intangible ways:
  • the shifting angle of sun in the sky -- our house is at an odd angle and in the winter receives very little sun, but in the past week, the sun has started to move into our windows in the mornings;
  • the lengthening of days -- technically, this goes with the previous statement, but I do love seeing the sun in the sky as I drive home from work, blazing fiercely not quite setting between the hills;
  • the scent of the earth and trees -- the thawing of the ground and the awaking of the trees leaves pockets of fresh earthy scent, and the pines on our road smell sharp and pungent;
  • the warming breeze -- the wind was kicking this afternoon, but it was a warm breeze, not a slicing winter wind;
  • the enlivening of the animals -- the birds in our trees and at our feeder have more song in them, the crows and hawks have more flight, and the deer have more spring (I saw one today bounding across a farm field on George Hannum);
  • the maple sugar shacks post is now receiving more hits than the sledding posts....
Look forward, look forward, and be not discouraged with the occasional threat of returning winter. Spring is on its way -- let there be spring!
(I am so looking forward to spring -- I have already begun planting my garden (in the kitchen), and the zucchini and tomatoes are growing at a rapid pace.)

Tune in later this week for Signs of Spring, Part 2!

Friday, March 6, 2009

To Rummage, To Ransack

I’ve been meaning to plug Rannsaka for a while now – probably months – ever since I discovered it back in the late autumn, and especially since I discovered that the word “rannsaka” is Swedish (I'm a proud semi-scandie) for “ransack” – or “rummage, pillage, search, rummage sale.” Rannsaka is all of those things. A delightful shop stocked from floor to ceiling and in every nook and cranny with attic and vintage delights.

On the main floor, one will find furniture: large wooden cabinets, shelves, stuffed chairs, drysinks. Also, pillows, old cracker tins, vintage mixing bowls, toiletry sets, decorative pillows, antique games, salt & pepper shakers, dried & bagged herbs, potpourri, a glass case of old jewelry, teacups and saucers, baking pans, cookbooks, stemmed glassware…

In the stairway leading up to the second floor, one will see framed needlepoint and pictures and mirrors, and some empty wooden frames for sale. This leads into a hallway between three separate rooms. The hallway is also full of curios and pictures and mirrors.

The room on the right is set up as a sitting room, with smaller chairs, handkerchiefs, old hats, pictures, dolls, crystal & cut glass.

The room straight back from the hallway is a linens room, full of doilies, vintage aprons, tablecloths and table runners. It also has more kitchen wares like tins and baking pans and such.

The last room off the the hallway is almost like an attic. It has handmade afghans and quilts, beer steins, books, more curios, and miniatures shelves.

Rannsaka is like rummaging through your neighbour’s attic or your grandmother’s closets, where you never know what you might find. And since it’s run like a community lawn sale, there are lots of things to look at in a wide variety of tastes and styles, with more appearing all the time. Worth a visit, if you're into that sort of thing.

Rannsaka: 115 N Main Street, Belchertown

(Right next door to Belchertown Antiques)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Belchertown's Very Own Tractor Supply Store

It recently opened: Belchertown's very own Tractor Supply Store. And I recently took the opportunity to visit. Combination hardware store, pet and animal supply store, gardening store, clothing & shoe store, toy store, and, of course, tractor supply store. I spent probably an hour at the store, wandering my way through the aisles, entertaining myself with products:

birdseed, bird feeders, birdhouses
cattle feed buckets
equestrian helmets and horse leads
tires and batteries
ropes and wires
plumbing equipment
rubber boots / galoshes
checked shirts, t-shirts, raincoats, jeans
toy tractors and animals
farming and gardening and cheese-making books
seeds and soil
propane tanks
varmint traps
and my favourite: the horse tire swing set!

I left with a bagful of stuff -- mostly things to get my garden started (indoors), but also another little birdfeeder and some suet for the woodpeckers. Can't wait to go back once I get my gardening started -- I'm going to need a pair rubber boots to muck around in the mud.

Tractor Supply Store, on the corner of 202 & 21 (Turkey Hill Road), behind the Easthampton Savings Bank.

Welcome to the Month of Spring....

In trying to find something good in today's snowfall (the difficulty being that I will now have to find time to make up 8 hours of work, if I can't get onto the main roads and drive my 20 mile commute through the hills on my bad tires), I came downstairs to check school closings and the status of my job. The snow is beautiful, falling white on white. No birds have yet ruffled the fresh snow on the deck, but there sits the red red cardinal on our green feeder, backdropped against the new snow. A lovely contrast in colour.
I would include a picture here, but our cardinal is very skittish and my camera not high-tech enough to capture a good one.
Enjoy the winter blast. Try to remember that March is the month of spring!

Photographs and text copyrighted by Livin' In the Belch blog author, unless otherwise stated.