Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This is another public service announcement:
Just reminding you that starting May 11, first-class mail stamps will increase from 42¢ to 44¢. Be sure to stock up on your Forever Stamps or 2¢ stamps.
For more information, visit USPS.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spring in the Valley

A few shots of the arrival of spring in the Pioneer Valley:


Friday, April 24, 2009

New Camera

I know that many times in past posts I have commented on my old digital camera. I don't think I've ever said what its specs are, but needless to say, they weren't great (2.0mp... 'nuff said). Well, today I made a purchase that should greatly improve the picture quality on this blog -- and my enjoyment of photography.
And for my first photopost with my new maquina, the woodpecker at the suet. [drumroll, please]

What a beauty! 3x zoom right into the sun.
Remember when I couldn't do any kind of close-up without fuzzing out the whole picture into grainy pixelation...? Sharper, brighter images, better close-ups -- what a joy!

Goodnough Dike

It was a grey and cloudy Saturday when I made my first visit to the Goodnough Dike, part of the Quabbin on the south end. But the greyness did nothing to diminish the beauty of the water and the sky and the bare trees.

The Dike is accessible on foot or bicycle -- no motor vehicles. It was built in 1938 and is named after X Henry Goodnough, who, among other things, made contributions to the Quabbin Reservoir Projects.

So, next time you're at the Quabbin, do yourself a favour and make the trek to the Goodnough -- maybe even take one of the hiking trails through the woods to get there.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Winged Visitors

Our selection of winged visitors at the feeder and bath has greatly increased over the last couple of weeks.

House finch
Brown-headed cowbird (a pair, m/f)
European starling
Song sparrow (or house sparrow?)
Blue jay
Mourning dove
Hairy Woodpecker
Cardinal (m/f)
White-breasted nuthatch
Tufted titmouse
Downy woodpecker
Dark-eyed junco

We have also had a single (as far as we can tell) visit from a red-winged blackbird and have seen several robins in the yard, along with the gray squirrels and red squirrels, who continue their busy work on the deck.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Alert: Cindy's is Open

Saturday I made the trip to Atkins to enjoy a nice tall cone of Orchard Run soft serve (twist, always). Well, today while driving down 202, I noticed that Cindy's Drive In is also open for the season. How exciting!
Spring is here -- and with it, one of the greatest pleasures of life!

Gravestones from the Quabbin

A few of the stones from the Quabbin Park Cemetery. Click on the pictures for a larger view.

Dana Remembers
1775 Revolutionary War 1783
[list of names]
1812 War With England 1815
[list of names]
1861 Civil War 1865
[list of names]
1917 World War 1919
[list of names]

Edward Babbitt
6 June 1815 AE

His Wife
Lottie A Hanks
Their Son
Robert E

I love gravestones -- I am a fan of family history and genealogy, and I find that gravestones are a beautiful piece of the story. Many stones are difficult to read, since weather and elements and wildlife all take their toll. But when I post a stone from a cemetery, I like to try to preserve the names and dates and words, if possible.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Quabbin Park Cemetery

Remember when those four towns were disincorporated to construct the Quabbin Reservoir? The entire population of those towns needed to be relocated, along with businesses and homes -- and the cemeteries. Thirty-four cemeteries in all, according to, and more than 6000 graves were moved. Many of those graves were moved to the Quabbin Park Cemetery, which I visited yesterday.

The Quabbin Park Cemetery was a peaceful place on a Saturday morning; peaceful and maybe just a tiny bit disheveled. Unlike the highly manicured cemeteries in eastern MA, this one had a bit of wildness in -- and more than just from the turkey I caught trotting amidst the graves, scratching at the dirt. I enjoyed the serenity of the cemetery in mid-April.

If you're in a cemetery or historical state of mind, it's worth a visit. Take a little time to read from the stones, when the words can be read. There are always stories living in a cemetery.

A general view of the cemetery.

Can you see the turkey?

A plaque on cannon moved from the town of Dana when the reservoir was built.

More cemetery pictures will come later, with a few gravestones and such.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Starlings Dark and Speckled

New birds at our suet cage this afternoon and evening -- European Starlings -- three or four of them, squabbling over the suet, swinging back and forth on the wire cage.
European Starlings are an invasive species -- 100 of them were introduced into Central Park in New York in the 1890s by a group of people who wanted to introduce North America to all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays. All the starlings found in North America are believed to be descended from those first 100. The birds can be fierce and quite competitive, and it has been suggested that they may be the reason, in part, for the diminishing numbers of native birds.

For more info on starlings or other birds, visit All About Birds (I love this site).

And we're also getting blue jays -- they sure look huge compared to our tiny songbirds.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Touch of Heaven

I recently had the opportunity to meet and talk with one of our local massage therapists -- Karen Weber of A Touch of Heaven in the Avon/Collective Copies building at the corner of Main Street and Jackson.

I visited Karen's plum and sage office to scope it out and to purchase a gift certificate. We spent a little time introducing ourselves and conversing, and by the end of our short meeting, I was definitely glad to have met her -- and happy to be able to put in a little plug for her here.

My husband, who received the gift certificate, contacted Karen to schedule an appointment. His post-massage report? Quite positive. Karen went through a thorough intake interview with him so that he would have the best and most comfortable massage experience he could. He enjoyed the massage, felt better after, and gives recommendations.

Massage is good for decreasing stress and anxiety, improving posture, bettering illness and injury, focusing the mind, and other healing things. If you have the chance, meet Karen Weber and maybe take advantage of one of those coupons you may occasionally see in the newspaper or downstairs from her office. Treat yourself.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

New Spring Banner

I've been looking and waiting and hoping to find a good picture for my spring banner, but beautiful signs of spring in my little neck of the woods have been slow in coming. S0 yesterday I ventured out on my first bicycle ride of the season, which was not a glaring success, but I was able to find a solitary lovely space with some bright daffodils and an old rusty plow, and spring was in view. Hope you like the new banner -- it will be here for a while.
(This is my 100th post! Thanks for reading.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Signs of Spring, Part 3 (or 4)

Spring Peepers!

The peepers have been out for weeks now, making a racket in the local wooded wetlands -- singing the coming spring in their loud chirping voices.
I had heard of peepers before but hadn't experienced them until last August when we arrived in Belchertown and were amazed at the night sounds that filled the quiet air of the country. Then the peepers went into hibernation for the winter -- and now they have returned. I hold little hope for actually being able to spot one in the near future (and even less for snapping a picture), but I did find a photo, film, and informational website that were all very interesting and increased my peeper knowledge just enough.

Information from
Film from

Enjoy the peepers!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Orchard Run & Local Ice Cream

I saw at Atkins Farms the other day while shopping (I'm there pretty regularly these days -- good winter/spring produce) an announcement that Orchard Run Ice Cream Shop at Atkins will be opening for the season on April 18. This is good news for the ice cream lovers among us, since they have some of the biggest soft-serve cones around, as well as a tasty variety of hard ice cream and treats.
And on April 20, Monday night Cruise Nights return. For more information, contact Atkins or read their newsletter.
I haven't heard any news about Cindy's Drive-in yet, but I do know that Janine's Frostee on Rt 9 in Ware has been open since the middle of February for their 53rd season. They have a great looking menu and are currently on my way home from work -- I can't wait to visit! (And if you visit their website, be sure to listen to the "Frostee Jingle.")
It's ice cream time!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Just Kidding...

It must be spring -- it's baby goat season!

On Friday I had the opportunity to visit a goat farm on the other side of the Quabbin -- I met the new arrivals (from 1 day-2 weeks old), bottlefed the newborns, watched the milking of the mothers, and helped feed them grain and bread and hay. I was even on hand for the birth of twins (see above) and was able to help bring the little beauties to life. What a great time I had!

Have you ever seen anything quite so cute?

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