Sunday, August 30, 2009

From the Sentinel...

Every once in a while, I post things of interest that I find in the Sentinel. For this week:

The Pioneer Valley Therapeutic Riding Association is continually looking for volunteers, and are currently looking for volunteers for their fall season. Horse knowledge is useful, but not necessary. Visit for a volunteer form. For more information and contact info, visit This is a great opportunity to volunteer a few hours of your time to make somebody's life a little better!

The Trustees of the Clapp Memorial Library are seeking citizens interested in serving on the Building Committee for the proposed library expansion plan. Send a letter with a brief statement identifying your expertise and interest by September 4 to:
Clapp Memorial Library
PO Box 627
Belchertown, MA 01007

You can read the full announcements in this week's paper -- at home or online.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


The local shagbark hickory trees have been dropping nuts for a few weeks now. I thought I'd take this opportunity to identify the tree for you. I love their bark!


Mushroom Walk #2

On Sunday, warm and humid, we decided to hike a trail in the woods. It seemed like a pleasant idea at the time, except that we forgot the bug spray and were immediately set upon by voracious mosquitoes. The hike didn't last long, but I did snap a few photos of amazingly colored mushrooms before being eaten alive.

These were even brighter in person -- the orange ones were flourescent! Bright spots in a dark wood.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

New! Event Calendar!

If you haven't been to the blog in a few days, but you read the posts through Facebook or some other aggregator, you may have missed the most recent addition -- the new local events calendar! The calendar hangs out at the bottom of the page and includes websites and details when available. There's even a handy dandy link to the calendar at the top of the page so you don't have to scroll all the way down each time you want to look at the calendar updates.

The calendar covers selected events in Belchertown, the Pioneer Valley, and Western Massachusetts -- and I'm open to suggestions for other events, as well. Hope it's useful to you!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Where to Eat What: a Shortlist

We are weekend regulars in the Rt 9 corridor between Amherst and Northampton, wherein lie some of our favourite food locations. I don't regularly review restaurants because there are so many, there is so much to say about each one, and that isn't really where I try to focus the majority of my comments. Nevertheless, there comes a time when it seems appropriate to share. So without further ado, a few of my restaurant recommendations, in no particular order:

Korean: Korean Restaurant, Rt 9, Hadley
Mexican: Mi Tierra, Rt 9, Hadley
Chinese: Panda East Chinese, N Pleasant St, Amherst; or Teapot Restaurant, Main St, Northampton
Thai: Thai Garden, Bridge St, Northampton
Steak: Union Station, Pleasant Street, Northampton
BBQ: Bub's BBQ, Rt 116, Sunderland
Coffee: Amherst Coffee, Amity St, Amherst; Northampton Coffee, Pleasant St, Northampton
Sandwiches: Black Sheep, Main St, Amherst
Mediterranean (and baklava): Amanouz, Main St, Northampton
Vietnamese: Miss Saigon, N Pleasant St, Amherst
Diner: Rt 9 Diner, Rt 9, Hadley
Eclectic American: Judie's Restaurant, N Pleasant St, Amherst
Breakfast: The Lone Wolf, Main Street, Amherst
Donuts: Atkins Farms Bakery

There are still plenty of restaurants in that Rt 9 region I have yet to try -- some Nigerian, more Chinese, Indian, Tibetan, and more -- I haven't nearly eaten at every restaurant around, but these tend to be our regular picks.

*Almost all of these restaurants serve gluten-free and/or dairy-free dishes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fall Fairs & Festivals, 2009

It's nearly late summer already, and with the turning of the season comes a plethora of fall fairs and festivals celebrating harvests and farms and the domestication of the natural world.

Wilbraham Peach Festival, Aug 21-23 (Wilbraham):

Red Fire Farm Tomato Festival, Aug 22 (Granby):

Smolak Farms Peach Festival, Aug 22&23 (North Andover):

Chilifest, Aug 29 (Belchertown):

3 County Fair, Sept 4-7 (Northampton):

Franklin County Fair, Sept 10-13 (Greenfield):

Annual Honeybee Festival, Sept 12 (South Deerfield):

Big E, Sept 18-Oct 4 (Springfield):

North Amherst Harvest Festival, Sept 20 (Amherst):

Belchertown Town Fair, Sept 24-27 (Belchertown):

Fiber Twist, Sept 26 (Greenfield):

Eat the View, Oct 2 (Northampton):

Garlic & Arts Festival, Oct 3&4 (Orange):

Franklin County Cider Days, Nov 7&8 (Shelburne Falls):

There are, of course, others -- this is just a sampling. I found more listings that I wanted to include, but I didn't include events with out-of-date event information on their webpages (like the Llama Photo Event at Hickory Dell Farm or the Fall Shearing, Felting, and Fiber Day at Winterberry Farm). However, you can find many more events with details at the CISA Events Webpage. I'll try to fill in more date as I discover more festivals/fairs in the Valley.
Seems to me there should be a local corn and/or cow festival -- don't you think so?

9/3/09: For more than what's posted here, see MDAR and the Community Events Calendar

Monday, August 17, 2009

Report: Lake Wyola

Today the temperature hit the low- to mid-90s. Warm. Very warm. And as I have the week off in preparation for my new job, and as the husband took the week off, too, we decided a trip to the lake was in order. We prepared our things, stopped at the store for some food, and off we went to Lake Wyola.

Lake Wyola State Park is a DCR Park in Shutesbury, also known as the Carroll A Holmes Recreation Area. It has 40 acres of property on the shores of Lake Wyola that include a small guarded beach and swimming area, picnic areas, bathrooms, nature trails, playing fields, and more -- there's even an ice cream & french fry stand. It's a wonderful place to spend a summer day -- and very family friendly.

Our main purpose today was to swim -- to be by the water and enjoy it. And so we did. Despite the fact that there was a good number of people there, the lake itself (the swimming section) was relatively uncrowded -- especially toward the deeper end. The water was cool but not frigid, clear, and large enough for playing or for swimming laps. It was easy to find an open space on the beach for our towels and stuff, and there was also available space on the grass. An easy day trip to make a hot day an enjoyable day.

The park is open from 9am-7:30pm from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Parking in the lot is a mere $5 (cash or check). For more information, call 413.367.0317 or visit the website.

Oh -- leave the flotation toys at home (except for life jackets) -- you can't use them here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Notices: Pavings

I have discovered, to my delight, that two heavily pot-holed and crumbling streets have been repaved in the last couple of weeks: George Hannum Street (past Dana Woods, the playing field, and under the railroad bridge) and Warren Wright Road. Those two roads have desperately needed work, and I'm glad to see it done -- happier cars, happier bicycles....

Have you seen recent community (Belchertown) improvements on roads, buildings, etc? Add a comment!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Summer Blues

Every summer around late July or early August, I try to get some blueberry picking done. I used to drive from metro-Boston to Tougas Family Farm, a wonderful full-service farm in Northboro. I would go there to pick blueberries and apples, purchase pumpkins and goodies from their kitchen, and to talk to the goats. But now I live in Western Mass., and there are farms around every corner. So I decided to check out the local picking -- at Dickinson Farm in Granby.

The day I designated as my blueberry picking day happened to be a Friday, in the morning. And it just happened to be raining, quite hard. But I didn't let that deter me. I was happy to be on my way to pick my berries. I anticipated a full flat (14-20 pounds) by the time I finished.

The rain had almost convinced the woman running the farmstand to close, but she cheerfully offered to remain open until I finished picking, amused at my determination. I grabbed a large white bucket which she said would hold 16 pounds and was on my way. Needless to say, I was the only one crazy enough to be there in such weather. The bushes were loaded. Berries hung from branches in bunches like grapes. Easy easy picking. It took me barely an hour to fill the bucket with the sweet, plump berries.

So if you're still longing for the taste of summer and you have an hour or so on your hands, make your way to your local pick-your-own blueberry patch, and get your fill of the summer blues. Eat them straight, freeze them, jam them, can them, buckle them, pie them.

For Dickinson Farms picking, head to the corner of New Ludlow Road and South Street in Granby. Try them -- you won't be disappointed.

Delays to Date

It has been quite a while since the last post on this blog -- an embarrassingly long time, in fact. But there is good reason! My computer has been sick and has spent some of the last 3 weeks at the doctor's. Hopefully, it will be better soon and I can get back to posting.
In the meantime, enjoy the middlings of August!

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