Hilltowns

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

Cummington Fair Starts Today!

Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy all that the Hilltowns of the Pioneer Valley have to offer. There are so many activities to choose from: hiking, swimming, kayaking, tubing, antiquing, and county fairs, to name a few. Today is the opening day of the 148th Cummington Fair. It is my personal favorite, because the setting is lovely and wooded. It's off the beaten path, and the drive to and through Cummington is beautiful. It's got all the bells and whistles of any county fair - cotton candy, candy apples, overpriced games where you can win "prizes" that will wind up in the recycling bin, pony rides, loads of animals, etc.

While you are driving through the hill towns, be sure to check out Maple and Main Realty's hill town listings!

The Cummington Fair runs today, August 25th, through Sunday, August 28th. Check out the schedule here.


Western Mass Beer Week is Underway!

Exciting news for Northampton area beer lovers! The first ever Western Mass Beer Week has commenced! Check out the following article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette with the schedule for all local beer and food-related events:

Hunter Styles: Western Mass’ week-long beer bash starts Saturday

The Western Mass celebration of local brew is under way

Sally Noble and Sonny Han co-own The Foundry in Northampton, one of many venues participating in Western Mass Beer Week

HUNTER STYLES

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Beerhunter’s ears are always pricked to news of local craft beer happenings, and this month, they’re positively tingling. 

All that excitement in the air is thanks to the first-ever Western Mass Beer Week, a series of events at breweries, bars and restaurants all around the Valley Saturday through June 18.

Eighteen breweries and more than a dozen eateries have teamed up to celebrate the beer brewed around here.

All told, 52 events are scheduled as of press time. Stay up to date on Facebook, and check westernmassbeerweek.org for more info.

In the meantime, here’s this beer lover’s first stab at a personal Beer Week to-do list. Hope to see you all there, and elsewhere, all week.

WEEK-LONG EVENTS

Brews & Tunes at Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton: Daily tastings, tours, and live music from Lunar Carnival, Eddie Riel, and more.

Taproom Tasting at Berkshire Brewing Company in South Deerfield: Open Saturday-Friday, 4 to 6 p.m.

SATURDAY

Berkshire Craft Beer Festival in Pittsfield: At the Common Park from noon to 5 p.m.

SUNDAY

German Brunch: Presented by The Dirty Truth in Northampton, with German beers imported by Shelton Brothers. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Bike Path Beer Voyage in Turners Falls: New beer debut at Brick & Feather at 3 p.m. followed by a keg tap at the Five Eyed Fox at 4 p.m.

MONDAY

Amherst Brewing Barrel-Aged Golden Sour Release: Gathering on University Drive. 5 to 10 p.m.

Movie screening “Blood, Sweat & Beer”: Abandoned Building in Easthampton hosts a showing of a new documentary film about two start-up breweries. 7 p.m.

TUESDAY

Franklin County Brewers at The People’s Pint: The Greenfield brewpub offers selections from Element, Stoneman, Honest Weight, and more. 5 to 11 p.m.

Learn to Cook with Beer: Chef Zach Shulman invites us to The Student Prince in Springfield, where he will make dressings, sauces and dessert using a saison, two pale ales, an IPA, and a tripel. 6 to 9 p.m.

Beer Trivia at Plan B Burger Bar in Springfield: Test your beer knowledge, with local breweries on tap. 9 to 10 p.m.

WEDNESDAY

BLDG8 at Moe’s Tavern: The Northampton brewery’s IPA makes its Berkshire County draft debut at the Lee restaurant. 3 p.m. to midnight.

The Foundry Firkin Faceoff: Five brewers were each tasked with turning a list of wacky ingredients into a quality cask beer. Come taste the results at the Foundry in Northampton. 5 to10 p.m.

Amherst Brewing / Wormtown Collaboration Release: The debut of a new pale ale, made in Worcester using Valley Malt. 5 to 10 p.m. University Drive, Amherst.

Real Ale Wednesday at Smith’s Billiards in Springfield: Casks and games aplenty. 5 to 9 p.m.

Honest Weight at The Moan and Dove: The new Orange brewery will be tapping a firkin and two pins at the Amherst bar, with additional beer on draft. 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The Dirty Truth Presents Lord Hobo Brewing Company: Eastern Mass brewer Daniel Lanigan comes home to the Dirty Truth in Northampton, which he co-founded, to raise a glass from draft, can, or cask. 7 to 10 p.m.

Firkin at the Brass Cat: Abandoned Building Brewery taps a new cask at the Easthampton bar. 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

THURSDAY

Cask Night at Iron Duke Brewing: Ludlow brewers offer two special casks, plus food truck eats. 3 to 9 p.m.

Vanished Valley Brewing Tasting: Brand-new Ludlow brewery pours free sample tastings of IPA and stout at Europa, the nearby steakhouse. 4 to 7 p.m.

Patio and Pints: Brew Practitioners in Florence host outdoor pours, with a 7 p.m. set by The Tom Savoy Band. 5 to 10 p.m.

Local Focus Beer Tasting Seminar: Provisions in Northampton hosts tastes of 12 wide-ranging beers, paired with cheese and charcuterie. $35 per ticket, or $30 each for 2-plus tickets. 6:30 to 8 p.m.

FRIDAY

Great Falls Harvest Food and Beer Pairing: The Turners Falls restaurant pours tastings of six Element anniversary beers, with Crooked Sticks Popsicles. 5 to 8:30 p.m.

 JUNE 18

C_LVIN India Pale Ale: One-time limited release collaboration between Brewmaster Jack and Abandoned Building Brewery. Available at Brewmaster’s Tavern in Williamsburg, with music, games, and food. 2 to 5 p.m.

The Worthy Craft Beer Showcase: Hosted by Smith’s Billiards in Springfield. Four-hour sampling, featuring Artifact Cider Project, Tree House Brewing Company, White Lion Brewing Company, and many more. Noon to 4 p.m.

Field Notes

Springfield brewery White Lion is teaming up with the city’s business improvement district to launch a summer series called White Lion Wednesdays. Through Aug. 17, the weekly event features White Lion brews with light fare and music, al fresco at one of three rotating locations: The Shops at Marketplace, Tower Square Park, and 1350 Main Street Plaza.

Magic Hat has finally run off and joined the circus. The Vermont brewery has signed on with Cirque du Soleil as the official craft beer of the Boston run of KURIOS, a “cabinet of curiosities” show that runs through July 10. What better way to kick back with a bottle of Circus Boy?

 In world beer news: the Belgian city of Bruges is building a two-mile underground beer pipeline to connect the downtown De Halve Maan brewery to its bottling plant. Once it’s completed this summer, the tunnel is expected to pump over a thousand gallons of beer an hour. Forget the opportunities to divert suds to all those local taplines – I’m wondering when they’re going to offer inner tube rides.

 

The Beerhunter appears monthly. Hunter Styles can be reached at hstyles@valleyadvocate.com.

 

Taking Care of Spring Bulbs

When spring sprung this year, I actually went online to research when and how to prune, fertilize, sod and care for the many plants in our garden. I was encouraged because last year when I followed instructions about how to care for my (dying) rose bush, I was actually able to bring it back from the dead and coax a bunch of flowers from it! This year, my garden has been growing well. Our bulbs seem to have gotten a late start, but they are hanging around for longer than usual. It's exciting to see them come up, and to think about what and where we will add new ones in the fall.

As a fledgling gardener (I can hardly call myself a gardener, to be honest), I was excited to read this piece in today's Daily Hampshire Gazette, about aftercare for spring bulbs. The article concludes with a list of interesting plant-related events happening in the Northampton area this month.

And, speaking of plant-related events in the Pioneer Valley! Don't miss the Asparagus Festival this Saturday, June 4th from 10-6 at the Hadley Town Common!

Here is today's article from the Gazette:

Mickey Rathbun: Aftercare for Spring Bulbs

The lovely season of spring-blooming bulbs has come to a close in my garden, leaving straggling drifts of lanky foliage. It’s easy to forget the weeks of delight the bulbs provided now that they’ve passed.

But resist the urge to cut back the foliage, even though it’s unsightly. The remaining leaves serve a vital function to the plant by restoring energy to the bulb by producing carbohydrates through photosynthesis. Without this, the bulb will not have the necessary nourishment to produce flowers the following year.

Leave the foliage until it turns yellow and dies back, a process that can take six weeks or longer. Some fastidious gardeners try to improve the leaves’ appearance by tying them or braiding them together, but this decreases the leaves’ ability to photosynthesize. So save yourself the bother and leave them alone.

If the dying foliage is making an eyesore in a visible part of the garden, you can hide it by strategic planting of annuals. Bulbs of daffodils, tulips and hyacinths are deep enough below the surface that you can put in annuals without disturbing them.

You can also interplant bulbs with perennials like hosta and epimedium that leaf out as the bulbs are recharging.


To maximize the bulbs’ ability to send out next year’s blooms, it’s a good idea to snip flowers as soon as they have wilted. This prevents the bulbs from wasting energy on producing seed. Leave as much stalk as possible to promote photosynthesis. With spent hyacinths, run your hand along the stalk to remove the dead flowers instead of cutting the whole stalk.

If you want smaller bulbs such as scilla, muscari and galanthus to spread by self-seeding, don’t deadhead them. (Who has the time and patience to deadhead these plants, anyway?)

When you are finally able to get rid of the dreary yellow remains, cut them close to the ground. Don’t pull them out or you will risk damaging the bulb. After all you’ve done to nurture the bulb, you don’t want that to happen!

The bulbs don’t need to be watered unless you have an unusually dry spell. In the fall, apply a slow-release, balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 10-15-10. Those numbers indicate the levels of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium in the fertilizer.

Do not use a high-nitrogen fertilizer (the first number); nitrogen stimulates vegetative growth, which you don’t want at that time of year. A few inches of compost is also a welcome addition.

Every few years you might want to divide your bulbs if you notice that the flowers are getting smaller and the stalks shorter. Wait till the foliage has died, then carefully dig out the bulbs. You will find that the original bulb has multiplied into many smaller ones. You can replant these right away or you can clean them off and dry them and set them aside in a single layer in a cool, dry, airy space and wait until fall to plant them.

After a long, cold winter, spring bulbs are an invaluable lift to our spirits. It’s worth taking care of them now so they’ll be back the next year, when we’ll be aching again for colorful new life in the garden.

FRAGRANT PLANTS THAT DELIGHT
We focus so much attention on the visual appearance of plants. But what about their scents? Join noted plantsman Andy Brand at Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge on June 4 from 1 to 3 p.m., for an exploration of ornamental woody plants and perennials that offer more than just visual appeal to our gardens.

The plants highlighted in this lecture have exceptional fragrances that warrant a special place in the garden where they can be fully enjoyed — near an entryway, alongside a terrace or deck, or along a woodland path.

Participants will learn how to make their gardens feasts for all of the senses.

For over two decades, Brand has been nursery manager for Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden, Connecticut, known for its rare and unusual woody plants. He is the former president of the American Rhododendron Society, past president of the Connecticut Butterfly Association, past President of Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association (CNLA), and received the Young Nursery Professional Award from the New England Nursery Association.

He is an amateur naturalist with a strong interest in native plants and attracting wildlife to yards.

The fee for members is $15; nonmembers, $20

WILDFLOWERS ON THEHOLYOKE RANGE
Woodland wildflowers are everywhere, but so often we don’t really see them. Gain a better appreciation of spring wildflowers by taking a guided tour of wildflowers at the base of the Holyoke Range on June 4 from 9 until 11 a.m. The Kestrel Trust has organized the tour, to be led by Karen Searcy, University of Massachusetts professor and botanist. RSVP for meeting location to: office@kestreltrust.org.

TOVAH MARTIN IN GREENFIELD
Celebrated garden writer Tovah Martin will give a lecture and workshop on making terrariums at the Brandt House, 29 Highland Ave. in Greenfield on June 5 from 1 to 4 p.m.

The event is sponsored by the Greenfield Garden Club.

If you’d like to participate in the workshop, bring a glass terrarium and adornments. All other materials will be provided.

The lecture and workshop is $50; lecture only: $25.

For information and tickets, contact Jean Wall at 773-9069, or jeanwall1313@gmail.com.

SUNDERLAND CHURCH PLANT SALE
The Sunderland Congregational Church is having its annual plant and bake sale on June 4, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The sale will include annuals, perennials, and some small trees and bushes. The sale is to benefit the church, located at the corner of Routes 47 and 116. There will be parking at the rear of the church buildings.

Mickey Rathbun can be reached at foxglover8@gmail.com.
 

 

End of Summer Events in the Northampton Area

Here we are in the final weeks of summer in the Pioneer Valley - it seems to be going by quickly! The weather has been lovely and it has been a great summer so far. There are still some highlights to look forward to in August and September here in Northampton and the surrounding areas.

1. Tuesday, August 25th from 4-9:30 p.m. is our 25th Annual Transperformance presented by the Northampton Arts Council and held at Look Park. A fantastic events where local bands and performers cover songs based on a specific theme - this year the theme is "Look at the Movies".

 

2. August 27th - 30th is the 147th Annual Cummington Fair, in Cummington, MA. A traditional country fair with animals, shows, rides, great food all  nestled on the beautiful Cummington Fairgrounds.

 

3. The Three County Fair in Northampton is held annually over Labor Day weekend, September 4 - 7th. This is a much larger fair than the Cummington fair, held at the Fairgrounds in Northampton.

 

4. Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket MA in happening through August 30th, 2015.


For more information about summer events and festivals, check out this list at masslive.com

 

Maple Sugar Season Snafu!

One of the perks of living in Northampton and the Pioneer Valley, is the celebration of winter's end and spring's beginning that is earmarked, in part, by maple sugar season. This provides us Western MA folk with a post ski-season excuse to spend a weekend day driving through the picturesque Hilltowns to have pancakes and homemade maple syrup at one of the many sugarhouses which pepper the area. The very long and cold winter (which seems to be clinging on for dear life) has thrown local maple syrup producers and fans alike, a curveball this maple sugar season. The cold temps throughout March have created a shift in the freeze and thaw cycle necessary for "normal" sap production, as you can read about in the following Daily Hampshire Gazette article. Here's hoping that there is enough syrup produced so that we can all enjoy some sugarhouse fun!

Maple sugaring season comes at long last to Valley, as producers hope for best after long-delayed start

By LARRY PARNASS

Gazette Editor

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

 

WILLIAMSBURG — Easy does it. Now that maple sap is flowing, sugarers hope spring continues to play hide-and-seek in the Valley to salvage a sluggish season.

 

With night freezes and daytime thaws finally here, sugarers are making syrup, starting in earnest to boil at a time of year when they have sometimes been wrapping up.

 

At the Lawton Family Sugarhouse in Williamsburg, Bill Turner had produced just 11 gallons by Sunday. This time last year, the small family operation, founded by Deb Turner’s great-great-great grandfather George Lawton, was halfway to the 133.5 gallons it produced from trees on an adjoining sugarbush of 40 to 50 acres.

 

“From what I hear, we haven’t missed much,” Turner said. “Everybody’s in the same boat.” 

 

Unlike past years, when March has brought thaws, 2015 remained cold through the month. “This year it was more like an old-fashioned year,” Bill Turner said.

 

The depth of snow in the Hilltowns may help preserve sugaring conditions, several maple producers said this week in interviews beside their evaporators. Deep snow still on the ground at high elevations helps moderate rising daytime temperatures and preserve the freeze-and-thaw cycle maple producers need for a robust sap flow.

 

“I hope it keeps running and that we can make some decent syrup before it goes to dark,” said Deb Turner, referring to the hues that result with sap gathered later in the season, when warm temperatures bring up bacteria levels and affect quality and taste.

 

Paul Zononi, who taps trees on a few hundred Hilltown acres, estimated Sunday inside his Williamsburg sugarhouse that he has produced just 40 percent of the syrup he expected to turn out. Zononi said he hoped to do better.

 

“We got to. We have to,” he said. “Nationally, nobody’s making syrup. Our production is barely keeping up with our sales.” 

 

Usually, his season wraps up April 1. This year, Zononi is playing catch-up. He is hauling 4,000 to 5,000 gallons of sap a day down Route 9 from land he owns or leases in Goshen and Cummington. 

 

Zononi first boiled March 13, earlier than many Hilltown sugarers, instead of starting the first week of March. His operation produced 1,000 gallons of syrup last year, the last 200 of them darker commercial grades because the 2014 season was also late.

 

At South Face Farm in Ashfield, visitors on Sunday passed a stone-cold evaporator on their way in to the restaurant now run by the Olanyk family. The farm, owned by Tom McCrumm, has been making syrup this year, but did not have enough sap to boil on Sunday because it remained at freezing or below in the sugarbush the day before.

 

“The weather forecast looks pretty good for this week,” said Todd Olanyk, as restaurant customers waiting for tables sipped coffee near displays on sugaring history. “Hopefully, we’ll make up for it.” 

 

His restaurant, like most in the Hilltowns, will remain open for two more weekends.

 

As a veteran producer, McCrumm smiles at the notion that anything can be predicted in an agricultural enterprise.

 

“There is no such thing as average,” he said. “People have to understand. It’s all dependent on the weather.” 

 

McCrumm estimated that his sugarhouse has produced one quarter to one third of the syrup it may make this year. 

 

By the calendar alone, the season should be nearly over. Last year, after the late start, conditions allowed for 17 days of boiling that enabled the farm to produce 825 gallons of syrup. “We had this continuous, long stretch of sap weather,” he said of 2014.

 

While good endings are possible, they are jeopardized by rapidly warming days. He is buying sap this year from Heath and Colrain, two Franklin County towns at high elevations where the snowpack may help extend the sap season.

 

“Most producers would rather start early than start late and have to see how far it goes,” McCrumm said. “We don’t know how far ahead of us this end will be.”

Our Own Winter Wonderland!

In the wake of "snowmageddon", (which turned out to be more of a run-of-the-mill snowstorm in the Northampton area), I've been thinking about how we experience winter here in Western MA. Around this time of year, the topic of winter seems to be on the tip of everyone's tongues. We are growing weary of the cold, the shoveling, the ice, the extra clothing and boots, the mess that the snow and ice creates in our homes, etc. This weariness is predictable. We yearn for the warmer weather, the ease with which we can move about, and get from place to place. This winter, 2 things are different in my household. For one, we have a puppy - which means one of us (me) is out walking that puppy every day. For another, my family is finally on the same page about skiing together. Between my daily hikes at one of the many beautiful hiking trails which surround us, and my weekly skiing jaunts with the family - I have a newfound love of winter!  On that note, I wanted to list some of the beautiful places nearby where we can ski, cross country ski, snow shoe or hike here in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts (or nearby):

Photo credit: dreamatico.com

 

1. Notchview - Ok, so technically this beautiful 3,100 acre reservation is in the Berkshires, rather than Hampshire County. However, we Northamptonites love to take advantage of the myriad trails for nordic skiing and snowshoeing this time of year. It's just a hop, skip and a jump up to Windsor, MA.

 

2. Fitzgerald Lake - Right here in Northampton are opportunities for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter

 

3. Mineral Hills Conservation Area - This beautiful conservation area, just off of Sylvester Road in Northampton, does not yet have a website. The trails are clearly marked, and their is a MHCA facebook page for more information.

 

4. Berkshire East - What a great family mountain!  With a newly renovated lodge, the addition of a lounge/bar for the over-21 set, and just enough groomed trails to keep all levels of skiers happy for the day - this mountain helps make winter fun!  For those who don't ski, there is a mountain coaster, and tubing park. You can also snowshoe or hike on the trails.

 

5. Stump Sprouts - This cross country ski area and guest lodge is a lovely place to come ski for the day -- or rent the lodge (complete with delicious vegetarian home cooked meals) with friends and family. Situated in Hawley, MA, Stump Sprouts is less than an hour drive from Northampton.

 

So remember, we do live here for a reason, or many reasons. Among those reasons is the change of seasons!  So, bundle up and get out there to enjoy what our beautiful valley has to offer.

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

slowdrives-pathway-YK0914_102

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.

 

slowdrives-classic-car-YK0914-300x450

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.

Rising Energy Costs, and Renewable Energy Resources

Although the warmer temps seem to keep coming and going - the weather yesterday and today have me easing the temperature higher and higher on our thermostat.  We are eager to test out our new Tier 3 energy efficient home in Northampton, MA - to see whether our utility bills will be as low as promised, in the coming months.  To that end, I was both encouraged and upset to read the following editorial today in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.  Apparently, we can look forward to higher electricity bills this winter.  Although this news is not encouraging, the fact that a company called Hampshire Power will be supplying Lowell, MA with power largely from renewable energy sources, is encouraging.  This solution that will cost less money to the citizens of Lowell, and have a more positive environmental impact.  Apparently, Hampshire Power has signed up 11 communities in Berkshire County and one in Worcester County with a similarly beneficial program.  Here's hoping that the local communities of Hampshire County /Pioneer Valley follow suit!

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.

Editorial: Electricity costs pinch New England, but relief may be on horizon

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A recent drop in gasoline prices helps only a little to buffer news that electricity costs will rise sharply this winter, making it more expensive to keep lights on in the darkest season and delivering a blow to households that heat with electricity.

Given enough time, New England will be able to bring down electricity costs as new plants come online, experts in the field point out. But the picture in the months ahead is grim. Massachusetts and neighboring states must adjust to significant shifts in the energy markets.

Utilities that provide electricity in western Massachusetts warned last week that competition for a limited supply of natural gas is largely to blame for prices that will jump a third this winter compared to last year.

Natural gas is used to produce half of the electricity generated in New England. The growing need for that fuel source is what led six New England governors to embrace the idea of bringing in more natural gas -- an appetite two major projects are eager to satisfy.

Even with a clear need for alternatives to coal-fired and nuclear plants, Gov. Deval Patrick hit the brakes in July by calling for a more detailed study of the state's energy needs.

Kinder Morgan wants to build a 177-mile natural gas pipeline across the northern part of the state -- and running through a small part of Hampshire County and nine Franklin County towns. The project, which must pass muster with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, faces determined local opposition.

More recently, Northeast Utilities, which owns the Western Massachusetts Electric Co., announced that it and a partner, Spectra Energy, propose to bring more natural gas into New England by expanding the capacity of existing pipelines.

While they would increase needed supplies of natural, these projects have yet to prove their worth and safety. Critics rightly question whether the gas will ease New England's energy pinch or be routed to the export markets, doing little to benefit a state that endured a pipeline construction or expansion.

As for this winter's sticker shock, National Grid says it will pass along a 37 percent cost increase compared to last winter. WMECO has not yet said how much rates will rise, but a spokeswoman noted, "We are all facing the same challenges." For the average National Grid customer, electric bills will rise about $33 a month. Those who heat with electricity will pay a lot more.

While electricity customers may feel they are at the mercy of price jumps, they do not need to be utility captives. Just this week, Hampshire Power, a project run by the Hampshire Council of Governments, announced it won a competitive bid to supply power to the city of Lowell in a deal that significantly expands its operations and will lower prices for ratepayers in the state's fourth-largest city. Instead of seeing prices rise a third, customers in Lowell will pay that much less.

And the rates will be locked in for three years. As an added benefit, the electricity Hampshire Power will supply 31,000 residential and 4,200 business customers in Lowell will come from renewable sources in New England. That is both a lean and clean deal for Lowell.

Hampshire Power has been pushing its option for years and has signed up 11 communities in Berkshire County and one in Worcester County. It hopes soon to secure state Department of Public Utilities permission to roll out a program that would enable it to buy power at lower rates on behalf of 160,000 residents and businesses in 35 cities and towns. Those customers want the power. Their municipal leaders have signed the papers. The state should stop fiddling around and allow them access to it.

In the short term, electricity customers can find themselves at the mercy of the market. In the long term, they have options worth pursuing.

via Editorial: Electricity costs pinch New England, but relief may be on horizon | GazetteNet.com.

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