Fall Foliage

37 Village Hill Road - Midcentury Oasis!

Perched on a 7.8 acre open lot, surrounded by woods, yet close to Williamsburg Center, sits this unique and charming property. The handbuilt stone fireplace, built-in cabinets, beds and seating give this home a cozy and modern feel. There is so much potential in this home and lot. Built in 1947, it does need some TLC, but with a home of this character and charm, sited on a spacious and beautiful lot, the possibilities are endless!

Currently a 4 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath home, 37 Village Hill Road in Williamsburg, MA is listed by our very own Winnie Gorman. Showings begin at the open house this Sunday, October 9th from 2-4 p.m. Bring your ideas for expansion and updates! Offered at $299,000. It won't last long!

Side Yard

View from the other side of the house

Living room with built in seating and stone fireplace

Living room

Master Bedroom

What a special property!! This charming custom built ranch, in the Frank Lloyd Wright style, is in a prime Williamsburg location. Sitting atop a knoll this handsome home is surrounded by both spacious lush lawn & breathtaking woods on three sides. Only moments from downtown Williamsburg, the best of both worlds awaits you here with the quiet, peaceful, woods offering a buffer from the outside world. A unique interior, containing a lovely stone fireplace & large picture windows that truly bring the beauty of the outdoors directly into the home. Many closets as well as generous storage offer ample space to keep things neat and tidy. A rare opportunity, indeed. Come take a look!!

ChiliFest at Mike's Maze this weekend!

NOT TO BE MISSED! The ChiliFest at Mike's Maze in Sunderland, MA is happening this weekend! What a great way to ring in the fall. Great food and great music, all in the idyllic New England setting of Mike's Maze in Sunderland. We Northampton-area locals look forward each year to the unveiling of the latest maze. This year, in honor of the 100 year anniversary of the National Parks Service, the maze is called "See America". Check out the link here for the aerial view of the maze.

While you are out and about, check out our weekend open houses.

Let's hope this beautiful weather holds throughout the weekend. Check out the article in the Daily Advocate here:

Hot Damn! Sunderland’s ChiliFest is Coming

By Hunter Styles

Kitchen Garden Farm hosts its annual giant farmer party at Mike’s Maze in the center of Sunderland, with bands, brews and spicy food all weekend long.

Hot Diggity!!!!

Could it be that the lingering heat wave of the past week was due to the potency of the peppers newly ripening at Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland? Probably not, but we hear these little devils are hotter than ever — and just in time for ChiliFest. Kitchen Garden hosts its annual giant farmer party Sept. 17-18 at Mike’s Maze in the center of Sunderland, with bands, brews and spicy food all weekend long.

Musical acts playing the solar-powered pavilion include Bella’s Bartok, The Derangers, Atlas Lab, Lonesome Brothers, Wishboe Zoe, Amber Wolfe, Tang Sauce, and Eli Catlin, whose tunes you can enjoy while munching on Mission Cantina tacos, mango-jalapeno popsicles from Crooked Stick Pops, arepas from Wheelhouse Farm Truck, dumplings from Kailash Kitchen, sriracha swirl ice cream from Bart’s, and spicy grilled Mexican street corn. Wash it all down with local beer from Abandoned Building Brewery, BLDG 8, and Exhibit A. 

That’s just the tip of the spiceberg. The Cook-Off features some of the best restaurant chefs in the Valley. The Hot Sauce Competition, held Sunday, is open to all who pre-register. Then, of course, there are the peppers from around the world, all fabulously monikered: ghost peppers, Hungarian Paprika, Trinidad Scorpions, and Carolina Reapers. Check out the screen printing, face painting, kids market, and the chef demo tent. Learn how to cook, pickle, and ferment. There’s even a “kimchi mob,” whatever that is. It’s a perfect chance to carry out these final days of summer in a blaze of glory. 

ChiliFest: Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. $10 adults; $5 kids; weekend pass $15 adults and $8 kids. Mike’s Maze, 23 South Main St., Sunderland. (413) 387-5163, kitchengardenfarm.com. 

— Hunter Styles, 

hstyles@valleyadvocate.com

No Need to Clear the Leaves!

I have to say, when we moved from a 1/2 acre plot of land in downtown Northampton, MA to a 1/4 acre parcel in Florence, MA - I assumed we would have no more fall clean up to speak of. At our last house, we were practically knee deep in pine needles, carpeting the lawn and burrowing in between the shrubs and plant. The energy we expended on raking those needles was endless, and we never were able to get rid of all of them. Now we have fewer pine trees, but plenty of other varieties of deciduous trees which are shedding their beautiful leaves all over our tidy 1/4 acre lot. When I pull into or out of the driveway at the end of the day - I become fatigued just looking at the leaves and thinking about the work we still have yet to do. 

I was thrilled when someone shared the following link with me about a week ago. I had forgotten that leaves can be used to mulch the soil and increase nitrogen levels, making the soil richer. I don't need to be encouraged to "let nature complete its cycle" twice. Count me in for leaving the leaves where they land!

 

In natural ecosystems, there is little waste. Nutrients taken up by plants are returned to the soil when plants die and decompose. Food eaten by animals is excreted; at the end of their lives, animals are also returned to the soil. Ecologists call this nutrient loop a biogeochemical cycle.


In suburban and urban neighborhoods, this cycle is broken. Yard waste, such as grass clippings and fallen leaves, are largely removed in bags or sucked up into giant vacuum cleaners from roadside piles. Water that once percolated through soils, carrying nutrients to plant roots, is routed to drainage ditches and nearby streams and rivers. Meanwhile, residents fertilize lawns and gardens due to nitrogen deficiencies.

Researchers at Boston University found that yard waste removal in the City of Boston eliminated 1/3 of the nitrogen needed by urban trees. Retaining yard waste could potentially reduce fertilizer demand in Boston suburbs by one-half. Overall, the city collected 8,000 tons of yard waste, carrying 64 tons of nitrogen offsite.

Soon, neighborhoods across the Northeastern states will roar with the sound of leaf-blowers. Here is a different suggestion: keep fallen leaves in your yard. They can be raked under shrubs to provide a layer of mulch. Rotary mowers grind fallen leaves, returning their nutrients to nourish your lawn in spring. We need to think of leaves as a resource, not a waste product.

While it’s true that some municipalities collect leaves for compost, rather than landfill burial – think of the energy and tax dollars that could be saved by not picking up yard waste at all. If possible, let nature complete its cycle.

**********

–This segment was adapted from an essay by Dr. William H. Schlesinger. You can read the original piece on his blog Citizen Scientist.
 

 

Matisse at Mt. Holyoke

One of the reasons I love living in Northampton is that although it is a relatively small city - there is so much culture to take advantage of here, and in neighboring cities and towns as well.  Take, for instance, the exhibit of rare Matisse drawings currently on exhibit at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.  I think we will spend our Saturday afternoon digesting Halloween candy, and taking a beautiful fall drive down to South Hadley to view this compelling exhibit.  How about you?

Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here. For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today!

Seldom seen: Rare Matisse drawings on exhibit at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in South Hadley


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By STEVE PFARRER Staff Writer

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Henri Matisse was one of the giants of early 20th-century art -- an influential painter, printmaker, sculptor and collage artist who became particularly noted for the expressive colors and strong brushstrokes of his paintings.

But Matisse (1869-1954) also loved to draw, whether making studies for later paintings, stand-alone portraits or sketches he used for experimenting with new ideas or examining compositional problems. As John Stromberg, the director of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, puts it, "He was restless. He was often looking for new ways to express an image, and drawing was a key to that."

The college's museum is taking a fresh look at some of those drawings -- many apparently rarely seen even by Matisse scholars -- with an exhibit drawn from a collection built by Matisse's youngest child, the late art dealer Pierre Matisse. The show has been curated by noted American artist Ellsworth Perry, a printmaker and painter whose own lithographs have been inspired by Henri Matisse's work.

The exhibit, which runs through Dec. 14, includes 45 Matisse drawings, predominantly from the latter part of his career, when he became partly disabled and found drawing easier to do than painting or printmaking. There's a wide range of work, from quick sketches of the human figure, to more studied portraits and still lifes, to small series that look at the same subject from different perspectives.

But all of it, Stromberg says, shows "the sureness and economy of his line and his interest in shape and open forms. ... Matisse was always experimenting, looking for ways to innovate." Stromberg notes, for example, that the artist would vary the look of the eyes of many of the subjects of his portraits, even within a study of the same person or similar people.

In a sequence of images of a veiled woman ("Femme voilé") in the exhibit, for example, the first depicts a woman with slanted, slightly hooded eyes, while in a second and third drawing her eyes have become more rounded. In another sequence, this time focused on female heads, the contours all form heart-shaped faces, but the overall impression is of noticeably different faces.

Matisse lent a bit more detail to one of the exhibit's larger drawings: a 1937 self-portrait, done in charcoal, that shows the artist wearing a suit and tie, glasses, and a serious expression, his head tilted to the left.

But even here, Matisse was playing with a conventional image: Behind his self-portrait is a shadowy, partially visible second image of his head, like a double exposure photograph.

An appealing proposal

Stromberg said the genesis of the exhibit can be traced to last winter, when he had a conversation with the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation in New York City, which has a huge collection of art -- not just that of Henri Matisse -- and lends items for exhibits. The foundation had given a three-year grant to Mount Holyoke for arts education, and Stromberg says staff there told him they'd also be happy to lend the college some of Matisse's drawings for a show.

"That was a very appealing proposal, of course," he said. "But I also thought it would be interesting to have an artist curate it." His thinking was that an artist could bring a different perspective to the show than he would as an art historian.

With that in mind, he contacted Kelly, whom he's known for some time; Stromberg helped coordinate a show of Kelly's at Boston University when he worked there in the 1990s as the school's art gallery director. Kelly's drawings had also been paired with Matisse's a few times in exhibits elsewhere.

Kelly, who lives in New York state just over the Massachusetts border, said he'd be happy to curate a show, for which he initially reviewed some 500 high-resolution Matisse images from the foundation's collection, Stromberg says. Then, to get a sense for what he might select for the Mount Holyoke exhibit, and for how he'd display the work, Kelly had a scale model of the actual gallery space installed in his studio.

In keeping with the flavor of Matisse's generally spare drawings, there are no wall labels, only numbers, for the 45 works on exhibit. An informational pamphlet, available for use in the gallery, contains titles and dates of the works, although a fair number of the drawings are undated. However, Kelly also requested the drawings be given custom-made frames to highlight the shape and size of each piece.

There's no particular order or organizing theme to the exhibit, either, but Stromberg sees that as part of Kelly's different approach to the show. "I think he basically picked what he liked," he said with a laugh, "though he's made some great choices."

An inveterate drawer

In fact, the eclectic mix of drawings, and the fact they've been chosen by another artist, gives the show a certain sense of intimacy.

Aside from their detail, or lack of it, the drawings are made from a variety of materials -- pencil, ink, charcoal -- and Matisse's lines can vary in intensity. One undated work, "Tête de femme" ("Head of Woman"), consists of just a handful of very thick lines of ink. But they clearly convey the face and neckline of a young woman, with neck-long hair parted to the side, and a slightly pensive look on her face.

Another, the more finely drawn "Nu à la fenêtre" ("Nude at a Window"), from 1944, could have been the first draft of one of Matisse's colorful, semi-tropical paintings inspired by his long residence in southern France. A nude woman, seen mostly from the back and side, stands alongside a window frame that's largely filled with the spreading foliage of a tree. Other greenery can be seen in the room; in the drawing's lower left corner, the artist's hand is shown sketching the scene.

There are a few detailed still life drawings, such as a bowl of lemons on a table, and portraits of women in hats and in various hairdos; somehow, even with just a few lines, they all look quite sophisticated, with something of the legendary "je ne sais quoi" often associated with French women.

Stromberg notes that Matisse, though an inveterate drawer, may have done less of it earlier in his career, and that many of those drawings have since made their way into private collections and museums. But those in the college's show, predominantly from the late 1930s to early 1950s, are likely to be of considerable interest both to casual viewers and art historians, he added.

"I think it's safe to say that many of these have seldom been seen," Stromberg said.

As a bonus to the show, a collection of Kelly's lithographs from the mid-1960s is displayed in an adjoining gallery -- images of leaves, flowers and fruit that mix both detail and abstraction.

But the focus is on Matisse and what many consider his mastery of the "less is more" approach to drawing. As Stromberg said at the college when the exhibit opened, "A seemingly simple curve could simultaneously define a shoulder, establish its place in relation to the picture plane, suggest its volume, outline the shape of the upper torso, and lend an emotional tenor to the sitter."

via Seldom seen: Rare Matisse drawings on exhibit at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in South Hadley | GazetteNet.com.

Leaf Peeping

The weather we have been blessed with in the past week reminds me why I love living in the Northeast, and, specifically, in Northampton.  Mild temperatures, clear skies, and insanely beautiful views of multicolored trees wherever you train your eyes.  I can't imagine living somewhere without real seasonal changes - and I feel lucky to live here in the Pioneer Valley.

As a realtor and resident of New England, I suscribe to Yankee Magazine, which is a great resource for things to do in this part of the world.  They recently published a "Western Mass Foliage Drive" article which outlines a beautiful drive through the areas surrounding Northampton.  If you are looking for something fall-inspired to do this weekend (in addition to the Ashfield Fall Festival, that is) read on!

For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today! Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here.

Western Massachusetts Foliage Drive

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Photo/Art by Krisin Teig

 

Housed in an 1842 grist mill, the Montague Bookmill offers a wide assortment of used books as well as a lively café.

From the source of Route 47 in South Hadley and on along quiet roads to Route 63 in Northfield, our journey is a sinuous, hypnotic drive, with the Connecticut River flashing in and out of the trees like a bright ribbon. It's a day for farmstand hunting and lots of stops.

Starting out, you'll want to grab provisions at South Hadley's Village Commons, from Tailgate Picnic or the Thirsty Mind coffeehouse, both across from the storied beauty of the Mount Hol­yoke College campus. Then launch yourself north on this sumptuously winding road.

 

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In Hadley, pull over at Barstow's Dairy Store & Bakery, which fronts Longview Farm, to watch cows grazing in the lower fields. Longview, designated a Massachusetts Century Farm, is actually a two-century farm, run by the same family since 1806, when Route 47 was a cart track. Drive through Skinner State Park to the summit of Mount Holyoke itself, where you'll gaze upon the Oxbow of the Connecticut River as it winds through fertile fields and dense forests. The 19th-century Summit House hotel reminds you of those grand old society days at mountaintop resorts.

 

You'll pass many good farmstands through Hadley: Try Becky Sadlow­ski's, at the corner of her family's ancestral farm, Rooted Acres, right next to a tobacco shed and corn crib. On Sundays, the Olde Hadley Flea Market offers the most breathtaking backdrop of fields and mountains of any open-air shopping venue on the planet.

A side tour on East Street will bring you to Hadley Common, where once villagers baited a witch, and where every fall they still hold a firemen's muster. Pull over to allow yourself a close-up of the curve of the Connecticut from the Hadley Dike.

In season till mid-October, the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum's warm, aromatic corn barn and the fish pond in its sunken garden are sights to behold, and the North Hadley Sugar Shack is a must for maple gifts for family and friends. Thre's one breathtaking view after another as you drive on through Sunderland; then detour left onto Route 116 to curve on up to the top of Mount Sugarloaf in South Deerfield, which ancient indigenous peoples said was the body of a giant beaver slain by a sky god. From the lookout tower, you can see the entire Holyoke Range in the distance, the silver flow of the Connecticut River, and the way the Pioneer Valley is held by the bowl of the surrounding mountains.

Now backtrack to Route 47 to an old burying ground, Riverside Cemetery, just past a cornfield in Sunderland, whose old slate gravestones display soul effigies and epitaphs in archaic letterforms--a peaceful resting place since 1714. About six miles farther along, stop at the Montague Bookmill to inhale the scent of nearly 30,000 used tomes, and refresh yourself with lunch at the mill's café alongside a tributary of the Connecticut.Continue north to Turners Falls--home of the historic Shea Theater, funky stores, street gardens, and fish-shaped bike racks--a fine town to stretch your legs in; be sure to stop in for a drink at The Rendezvous or a snack at 2nd Street Baking Co. (which is actually on 4th Street). At the Great Falls Discovery Center, you can witness the churning energy of the old mill canal and learn more about this historic river you're following.

Cross the river and Route 2, and head up Main Road into Gill; about a mile above the center you'll see North Cemetery on a little ridge on your left, flanked by open, grassy fields, calling you in past an ancient red-maple sentry to visit graves so old that some of them are coated in lichen, their inscriptions all but worn away.

The light should be getting long by now, and you might need a jacket. Head right, over the river; then left on Route 63, ending your ride seven or eight miles north at the historic Northfield Drive-In (just over the line into Winchester, New Hampshire), its old car-radio pillars authentic testimony to its longevity. It closes after Labor Day, so there's one more great reason to visit the Valley again come summer.

via Western Massachusetts Foliage Drive | Directions - Yankee Magazine.