winter activities

Smith Bulb Show in Full Swing!

Cold temperatures, mounds of snow and ice got you down? Head over to Smith College for the remaining 9 days of the Smith and Mount Holyoke College Spring bulb show. The variety of flowers, array of colors and floral scents, and the recently added corresponding art installation should help lift your spirits and remind you that spring and summer are around the corner! Winter can be tough in the Pioneer Valley. Northampton residents and visitors look forward to this annual event as winter draws to a close.

Get Growing: Inside the bulb shows

For the Gazette 
Published: 3/1/2019 2:04:02 PM

Every year in late winter, when we’re all desperate for the sights and smells of springtime, the botanic gardens of Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges bring us their fabulous annual spring bulb shows. This year’s shows will run from March 2 through 17, promising, as always, to delight visitors from all over New England. 

At Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory and Mount Holyoke’s Talcott Greenhouse, staff members and students have been busy for months preparing the stunning arrays of crocuses, hyacinths, narcissi, irises, lilies, tulips and more that will come into their own during the first two weeks of March. A question that many visitors ask is: how do you make sure that everything is ready to bloom at the right time? 

Over the many years that the colleges have been putting on the shows, they have refined the technique of synchronized blooming. To prepare for the annual bulb shows, students at both colleges pot thousands of bulbs and put them in cold storage to simulate a period of winter dormancy. 

In January, the pots are brought into the greenhouses to wake up and start growing. Spring plants grown from seed, such as pansies, are started in the fall. Because the plants all have different blooming schedules, there’s an artful science to bringing the bulbs into flower during the same two-week period.

Timing and temperature control are key to creating the spectacular display. “We can push them or slow them down if we need to,” said Tom Clark, director and curator of Mount Holyoke’s botanic garden. “And we don’t want them all to be in full bloom on opening day.” 

But there are limits to what can be done. “When the temperature hit 60 degrees a couple of weeks ago,” he said, “all we could do to keep things cool was to open all the vents in the greenhouse.” 

Snow is also a challenge, he added, because it does not melt when the greenhouse roofs are cool. “If we warm up the greenhouse to get rid of the snow, we’re making it too warm for the plants.” 

In addition to the usual spring favorites, the shows will feature smaller bulbs such as chionodoxa (glory of the snow) and muscari (grape hyacinth). “We like to have some plants that aren’t so common,” said Clark. “We like to introduce people to new things they can try in their own gardens.” One such plant is the fritillaria meleagris, or snake’s head fritillary. It grows only 8 to 10 inches and has nodding, bell-shaped flowers in colors ranging from white to dusty-wine and purple. Smith’s show this year will feature “a slew of anemone nestled together which makes for a great sight,” said greenhouse assistant Dan Babineau, who does much of the planning and execution for the show.

Both shows use “supporting actors” from the permanent collections to add dimension and texture to the displays. And both feature branches from spring-flowering trees that are forced into bloom with heat and moisture. “I'm particularly excited for the many new forced branches,” said Babineau. “The buds of cornus mas and officinalis, dogwoods, are on the way along with a couple varieties of cherry, some apple blossoms and more.” 

Last year, Mount Holyoke introduced a new feature: a complementary art installation created by students specifically for the show. The work, a sculpture evoking the college’s main gate and large fountain that created a rain-like effect, was so successful that this past fall, Clark asked sculpture professor Ligia Bouton if she might have students interested in doing a piece for this year’s show. Three students, Deborah Korboe, Emily Damon and Lauren Ferrara, took on the challenge, advised by Bouton and Amanda Maciuba, visiting artist in printmaking.  

“We gave the students a couple of possible ideas to work with,” said Clark. These included “an evocation of the Pioneer Valley” and “colorful spheres, perhaps hot air balloons, that are popular in the area.” From these themes, the students created a spectacular array of mobile pieces in metal, plexiglass and wax hanging from the greenhouse ceiling that represent fall, winter and spring, the three seasons they experience here in the Valley. 

“We liked that idea [of hot air balloons], but wanted to go with something a little more abstract,” said Damon. “We played around with the idea of hot air balloons, air, wind currents, then settled on the theme of ‘winds of change’ which is representative of the three seasons we have hanging above the flower bed.” 

The work consists of 625 handmade elements, each strung and hung individually. The delicate leaves of fall, the shimmering ice formations of winter, and the magnified spring seeds, buds and other organic shapes of spring, provide a magical counterpoint to the array of flowers beneath it. “The overall span and shape of the piece emulates a gust of wind that starts at the door and carries you through the amazing flower show,” said Korboe. “It is a journey as well as a transition. A journey between seasons while looking forward to the next and still experiencing the present.” 

“It was an amazing experience working on this project with such a creative and ambitious group of student artists,” said Bouton. “They really worked hard, and I feel the piece is a testament to their dedication, creativity and perseverance.”

The Smith College show will kick off March 1 at 7:30 p.m. with a lecture titled “Advancing Racial Equity Through Regenerative Place-Making” at the Campus Center Carroll Room. Speaker Duron Chavis is a nationally known leaer in urban agriculture and advocate for community-designed solutions to local challenges. His talk will focus on ways to mitigate the harsh realities of racism and racial inequality through place-making, a process that capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness and wellbeing. The event is free and open to the public. 

Both shows are open March 2-17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. The Smith Show is open till 8 p.m. Fri. to Sun. For more information about the shows, go to: mtholyoke.edu/botanic and garden. smith.edu.

Mickey Rathbun, an Amherst-based lawyer turned journalist, has written the Get Growing column since 2016.

Upcoming garden events:

Landscape architecture book launch

On Mar. 2 at 10 a.m., Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge will host a talk by well-known local landscape architect Walter Cudnohufsky, about his new book, Cultivating the Designers Mind — Principles and Process of Coherent Landscape Design. Cudnohufsky is founder of the Conway School of Landscape Design. His book is a culmination of 60 years of studying, teaching and practicing landscape design. While the book is intended for all landscape architects, architects, planners and engineers, it is both accessible to and useful for all audiences. This talk will share some of the sources of personal inspiration, discovered principles and insights made in capturing on paper the elusive task called designing. There will be ample time for planned audience engagement and questions and answers in the one hour talk. Members: $10/nonmembers: $15. For more information and to register, go to: berkshirebotanical.org

Community tree conference at UMass

The 40th annual Community Tree Conference will take place at Stockbridge Hall at UMass on Mar. 5. This event is designed for tree care professionals, volunteers and enthusiasts including arborists, tree wardens/municipal tree care specialists, foresters, landscape architects and shade tree committee members. This year’s theme is Species Selection in the Urban Environment. Topics will include creating bird habitats in the urban environment, the effects of climate change at the local level, and choosing trees for storm resistance. Cost: $95 ($75 for each additional member of the same organization). For more information and to register, go to ag.umass.edu/landscape/events

Pests and diseases in the landscape: Q & A

One positive thing I can say about winter is that pests and diseases are less of a problem in the garden. But spring is just around the corner, and it’s not too soon to start thinking about how to deal with these problems. At Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, on Mar. 9 from 11 a.m. to noon, there will be a Q and A on the subject of insects and disease in our landscape. Gary Alia, field supervisor for Rutland Nurseries, will answer your questions about problems affecting trees, shrubs, perennials and lawns. Gardeners are encouraged to send your questions in advance to adulteducation@towerhillbg.org. Cost is included with admission.

Rainwater as a resource

The final clinic in Hadley Garden Center’s weekly series is about using rainwater as a resource around your home and garden. Mar. 2 at 1 p.m. 285 Russell St. (Rte. 9) Hadley. For more information, call 584-1423. The session is free but come early to get a seat. And while you’re there, consider buying yourself something nice for your garden to celebrate having almost made it through another winter. 

 

Get Outside!

If you live in the Pioneer Valley, there is no question that winter will be more enjoyable if you adopt an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality. Winter is long, and cold. However, with some advance planning, it can be enjoyable to spend time outdoors in our beautiful part of the Northeast. The following article from this week's Daily Hampshire Gazette, provides a list of must-have equipment (so important!), with some great outdoor hikes and even places to enjoy food and drink after you've exerted yourself. While the equipment list may sound like you are packing to climb Mt. Everest, as a frequent winter hiker in these parts, I can assure you, the author knows of which he speaks! Heed his advice and enjoy!

Combatting cabin fever: A guide to outdoor treks and warmup spots for the fit and stir-crazy

For the Gazette
Published: 2/26/2019 8:14:56 AM

This winter has been a season of extremes. One day we have -10 degrees with blizzard conditions and the next it’s sunny and 55 degrees — or more. The so-called “wobbly vortex” is messing with our standard winter conditions and making outdoor pursuits more challenging than ever. But no matter your position on climate change or your secret inner desire to winter in the Caribbean, the Pioneer Valley is a beautiful place that is easy to enjoy year-round. And, we have the added benefit of being surrounded by a gastronomical and fermentation obsessed landscape of amazing pubs, breweries and restaurants to take the chill off afterward.

Generally said, just about any summer hiking spot can be a winter spot and the Valley offers easy and difficult treks up and down and on both sides of the river for both hardcore enthusiasts and newbies alike.

But before we venture out, we have to discuss three primary concerns: traction, safety and preparedness. This winter’s lack of a dependable snowpack presents some challenges no matter what your level of experience because when there is not enough snow for skis or snowshoes, and the weather is variable, it usually means ice.

Do not underestimate the power of ice. Ice can turn the road up Mt. Sugarloaf in Deerfield into the Khumbu icefalls of Mt. Everest in no time. And while I’ve seen people scoot up that hill in twenty minutes wearing sneakers, I’ve seen them take an hour to get down, often with falls. So, no traction = no go. If you want to avoid injury on even the most basic adventures in the woods, you must add yak trax, cat tracks or microspikes to your regular hiking boots..

On top of safety, there is more safety. The number one most basic rule: don’t hike or snowshoe alone. Two heads actually are better than one when ice, cold and wind are involved. Number two: make a check-in plan with a friend or relative who is not on the hike with you. Tell Aunt Sue that you will text her when you get back to your vehicle. Tell her where you are hiking, whom you are hiking with and even what you are wearing. If she does not hear from you by 6:00 p.m., she’ll know to call the authorities.

A few more good tips: Check out the entire day’s weather to avoid surprises. Start small and hike or snowshoe something you know. Experiment with new or unfamiliar equipment before you get two miles from your vehicle. Try things on. Adjust straps. Fall into the snow and get yourself up — a test that can be a real indicator of your preparedness. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to turn back if you are tired, unsure of the terrain or concerned you may be overdoing it. As the saying goes, the mountains and trails will be there waiting for your return. Just getting outside in winter means you have succeeded and any unfinished hike or peak becomes a goal for the future.

Gather your gear

The list below may seem like a lot of stuff, but keep in mind that winter requires a few extra precautions because daylight is short, fewer people are outdoors, hikes take longer and the weather can change suddenly. Note: Water bottles can freeze, so use lukewarm water and cover your bottles with a wool sock. Cell phone batteries also die faster; store your phone inside an old glove deeper inside your pack. Before you head out, try your best to pull together the following:

Warm, layered and breathable clothing — preferably a bright outer layer (required)

Insulated boots (required)

Ski/trekking poles (recommended)

Snowshoes, cross-country or backwoods skis (required in deep snow situations)

Cat tracks (small teeth), yak trax (bigger teeth), microspikes (even bigger teeth) and crampons (giant teeth) (best in light snow/ice situations)

A decent day-use backpack with basic medical supplies (required)

Headgear and goggles (required)

Water (see note above), headlamp, snacks, a detailed plan and a map (required)

While it goes without saying that being outside usually involves the cold, one of the biggest challenges is actually overheating and managing trapped moisture from sweat. That combination can lead to hypothermia and hypothermia can lead to, well, bad things.

When dressing for strenuous winter exercise, stick with warm, layered and breathable gear. No cotton. Cotton loses all of its warming value with the slightest bit of moisture. Polypropylene long underwear and layered wool are best. Jackets that can be peeled off and stored in a pack are good, too. For lack of a better way to think about it, what would you wear and bring if you had to run a mile, do one hundred pushups and then sit in a snowbank overnight by yourself? It could happen.

OK, now for the fun stuff. Let’s get outside with three great treks. Each of these can be skied, hiked in microspikes or on snowshoes, it all depends on the weather, snow depth and what gear you possess.

City Special: Whiting Street Reservoir & Mt. Tom Ski Area in Holyoke

Getting there: Take Rte. 5 to Mountain Park Road and head up the hill to the end of the road. There’s a small parking area at the top that is generally plowed. To the south, a gate leads down a road a bit and then connects to the reservoir. To the north, another gated road wraps around the park and then up a steep hill to the Mt. Tom base area. The Mountain Park concert area is fenced off in the middle. Both roads lead to a bunch of options.

Option #1: (Reservoir) Head through the gate to the south and connect to a trek around the reservoir. You’ll enjoy a mostly flat 3.8 mile loop that offers great views of Mt. Tom, lots of light with a few streams and a glimpse or two of wildlife. This is a moderate effort taking approximately 2 hours if spiking or snowshoeing.

Option #2: (Reservoir + Loop) Take the road to the north. It’s approximately 1 mile to the base area (mostly uphill). After you crest the hill (great views) and head downwards, note an industrial dumpster (yes) on the left. Behind i is the path that connects to the reservoir. After poking around the base area, head back and then down the short but steep trail. Take a left and you can make it a 2 mile loop along part of the reservoir by taking the left at the pump house and following the road back to the parking area. This is slightly more strenuous and takes about an hour and a half. Note: if you take a right, it’s most of Option #1 above.

Option #3: (Reservoir + Ski Trails) This was my choice using snowshoes on a recent snowy day. I reversed Option #2 and made it to the base quickly and then headed straight up the ski trails. It’s a pretty strenuous climb of approximately 750 vertical feet but well worth it. You’ll see the old lifts and shacks and when you take a break and turn around, you’ll see the Holyoke Range to the north, Hadley across the river, Holyoke in the foreground and Springfield to the south. It’s pretty strenuous overall. Allow 2 hours depending on how far up the hill you go.

After your adventure, head over Rte. 141 to warm up at the Daily Operation in Easthampton with some replenishing made-to-order food (and perhaps a local beer.) Dave Schrier, Jessica Pollard and Dave Clegg recently decamped from the Alvah Stone up in Montague to open this spot, and their funky, filling, casual and creative Asian-influenced food never disappoints. My favorites include the blackened fish sandwich, cheesy fries, Sichuan cabbage salad and Jessica’s black bottom maple pie. As for beers, $3 gets you a can of Genny Cream Ale and $5 gets you the brews from nearby Fort Hill Brewery.

360 Degree Views: Mt. Toby Telephone Trail/ Firetower in Montague

Getting there: Take Rte. 116 to Rte. 47 North in Sunderland. Wind your way along and then turn onto Reservation Road. The parking area is about a ½ mile up on the right. If there are no maps available or you forgot yours, take a picture of the large map on the information sign, better to have at least that as a reference when you head out. Just a heads up: It’s a pretty popular spot on the weekends, especially if the temperatures are warm. Much like Mt. Tom, there are a bunch of options depending on your time, fitness and appetite. Skiers should probably consider Tower Road out and back vs. the Telephone Trail.

Unsure of what the recent warm ups and re-freezes would bring, my wife and I popped on the microspikes, brought trekking poles and carried crampons in our packs. The microspikes were the right call. From the parking area, take the Tower Road fire road that heads gently south into the forest. Ignore the Hemlock Trail on your first visit. Stay on Tower until you reach the Telephone Trail marked with blue blazes (at about ¾ mile). Take a right and begin heading upwards. You’ll come to a junction with the Upper Link Trail after another ½ mile. If you’re tired, head across the Link and reconnect with Tower Road for an easier way to the top. If you like a challenge, stay to the right. Most of the 900-foot vertical gain now stacks up to a frozen stream staircase for about .4 miles to the top. Climb the fire tower on a sunny clear day for a 360-degree view and you can see the ski areas in Vermont, the Berkshires and Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire — in addition to the entire Valley. Head back down the same way or for an easier (but longer) loop, head down the Tower Road and take a left at the Link or stay on Tower. (Telephone Trail up and back is strenuous and slippery, about 2 hours. Looping is a little easier, but adds time.)

After your hike, continue up Rte. 47 for a couple more miles to the Montague Bookmill. The Lady Killigrew Café will get some replenishing carbs back in your body fast. A simple but hearty menu provides perfect options for something warm or cold that will get your body back in line. They also have four great local beers on tap. I opted for a pint and a grilled basil, tomato and mozzarella sandwich with a nice side salad. (I strongly suggest their delicious cupcakes.)

Quick Historical Loop: Bullitt Reservation in Ashfield and Conway

Getting there: The Bullitt Reservation is a 3000-acre Trustees of Reservations property accessible from Bullitt Road in Ashfield. Take Rte. 116 up from Rte. 91 or from Williamsburg Road. (The Poland Road approach is not plowed in the winter.) William Bullitt was the first ambassador to the Soviet Union and the family’s summer home and farm has been preserved for our benefit.

This property has a great history, sublime views and a couple of nice options for a snowshoe, ski or hike. Parking is available at the barn and homestead and the trail entrance is located back up Bullitt Road. The primary trail here is the “Pebble” trail, a 1-mile loop hike that gains some elevation on its way to the “Pebble,” a huge erratic boulder that appears wedged between supporting trees. It’s a fun feature for the kids if you’re with the family. The loop is not stressful, but if you are interested in doing more, the Three Bridges Trail to Chapel Brook is 4 miles round-trip and will definitely fill your afternoon. When I went in early February, four inches of fresh snow had blanketed an icy crust beneath, skiers had made their way to the Chapel Brook cutoff and a few other hearty snowshoers had done the Pebble. Short on time and daylight, the Pebble was a perfect 45 minute loop. Be sure to print a copy of the map from the Trustees website before you head out.

After your hike, make sure you warm up the car a bit because the options are a little dispersed. I was craving pizza, so I opted to double back and head to Magpie Woodfired Pizza in Greenfield for an amazing grilled Caesar salad and a tasty handcrafted pie. Best of all? The atmosphere is warm and inviting so you won’t look out of place with a little “hat head” or in ski pants.

 
 
Patrick Kandianis is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of the education finance startup Pay4Education. An avid snowboarder, hiker, mountain biker and fly-fisherman, his freelance work has appeared at REI.com, in Coastal Angler and in Blue Magazine. He lives in Holyoke with his wife and two dogs. Drop him a line at patrick@pay4.education

Northampton Touted in Yankee Magazine!

It's so much fun to happen upon articles in well known publications, touting the many highlights of our fair city of Northampton. Last week, my mother sent me a link to this article in Yankee Magazine, which muses about whether one *could* live here. We say yes! Read on to remind yourselves of the many reasons why you live here, and love it!

Northampton, Massachusetts | Could You Live Here?

When temperatures dip into the single digits, the college town of Northampton, Massachusetts, turns up the heat.

Annie Graves • January 2, 2018 • Read Comments (3) 

    

A young visitor lets off some steam in the Palm House--aka A young visitor lets off some steam in the Palm House—aka “the Jungle Room”—at Smith College’s Lyman Plant House and Conservatory.

Mark Fleming

On the coldest day of the winter, which is soon to lead into the coldest night, we head south from New Hampshire in search of personal climate change. Seventy miles later, we check into the Hotel Northampton, climb the hill that rises toward Smith College, and spiral up an icy-cold staircase to heaven. Or, more specifically, East Heaven. As in, Hot Tubs.

Up here in the clouds (actually, the rooftop), steam billows from a bubbling wooden cauldron that sits high over Northampton. Vapor curls into the dark, frigid air. Snow is falling, the temps hovering around 8 degrees. A pale, misty moon is barely visible above the private enclosure that surrounds our percolating pool. My hair stiffens and freezes, and I couldn’t be happier … or warmer. The air feels sharp enough to shatter—and I don’t care. Which is probably what any number of East Heaven customers have felt since 1981, when Ken Shapiro and Scott Nickerson opened this Japanese-style bathhouse. “I took more hot tubs than showers growing up,” quips Shapiro’s son, Logan, who now helps run the business: four indoor tubs and four outdoor ones, plus a spa.

One of the eight hot tubs at East Heaven.

One of the eight hot tubs at East Heaven.

Mark Fleming

Oddly, the thermostat seems to be rising all over town—cranking up even to, one might say, a tropical intensity. Blocks away from East Heaven’s 104-degree tubs, in the heart of the Smith College campus, a Victorian confection sits amid the swirling snow: It’s the 19th-century Lyman Plant House and Conservatory, shaking off winter with a humid canopy of cacao, banana, and rubber trees in its kid-magnet Palm House, nicknamed “the Jungle Room.” Close by, the transcendent Hungry Ghost Bread, effectively a bakery sauna, emits clouds of yeasty moisture whenever a customer steps inside. Cozy bookstores meld heat, escapism, and—in the case of Raven Used Books—classical music to conjure a mini vacation from the chill. And we’re just warming up.

clockwise from top left: Comfy digs in the Hotel Northampton's newer Gothic Garden building; one-of-a-kind lighting fixtures at custom furniture shop Sticks & Bricks; the atrium at the Hotel Northampton, whose guests have included David Bowie and the Dalai Lama; an artful latte alongside Kahl�a fallen chocolate souffl� at the Roost.

Clockwise from top left: Comfy digs in the Hotel Northampton’s newer Gothic Garden building; one-of-a-kind lighting fixtures at custom furniture shop Sticks & Bricks; the atrium at the Hotel Northampton, whose guests have included David Bowie and the Dalai Lama; an artful latte alongside Kahlúa fallen chocolate soufflé at the Roost.

Mark Fleming

The Setting 

This vibrant Western Massachusetts town is planted in the fertile Pioneer Valley, bordered by farmland, traversed by the Connecticut River, and surrounded by a constellation of top-notch schools—specifically, the famed Five College Consortium (Smith, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, Hampshire, and UMass Amherst). Anchoring and overlooking Northampton is Smith College, founded in 1871, its pretty campus well within walking distance of a downtown brimming with shops and cafés, many decades old. Smith alums who wandered these streets include Gloria Steinem, Sylvia Plath, and Julia Child. Calvin Coolidge was mayor here, from 1910 to 1911, before becoming our 30th president in 1923. One local writer observes: “We’re in the country, but it’s cultured. We’ve got fantastic libraries and a great book culture, but you can also have a yard and be near a forest.”

 

A view of the c.�1895 conservatory, which houses 3,000-plus species of plants from around the world.

A view of Smith College’s c. 1895 conservatory, which houses 3,000-plus species of plants from around the world.

Mark Fleming

The Social Scene 

The café life is exactly what you’d imagine in an energized college town, with a robust mix of students and professor types taking their MacBooks out for a spin and cozying up to lattes. But art lovers can also find inspiration: The Smith College Museum of Art’s impressive collection includes Monet, Picasso, Rodin, Degas, and Cézanne, and a year’s membership brings unlimited admission to high-quality escapism. Locals can volunteer to lead tours at the Lyman Plant House after intensive training in basic botany and the history of the garden, according to a volunteer. Moms and dads troop through the greenhouses with children eager to visit their favorite rooms. “This is mine,” says Langston, a lively 3½-year-old who’s engulfed by giant foliage in the Palm House (although he’s partial to the cacti in the Succulent House, too). “We come here once a month, and he runs through the rain forest,” says his mother, Sally. “I know other people like to come here and be contemplative….”

 

Opened on Market Street in 2011, the Roost caters to a variety of appetites with everything from breakfast sandwiches to milkshakes to wine and beer.

 

Opened on Market Street in 2011, the Roost caters to a variety of appetites with everything from breakfast sandwiches to milkshakes to wine and beer.

Mark Fleming

Eating Out 

Snow is still pelting down as we slip into the Roost, where steamy windows and wood-plank rusticity meet “Rooster Rolls” stuffed with egg, bacon, avocado, or possibly whipped gorgonzola (making the Food Network very happy and earning its props for “best breakfast between bread”). At Haymarket Café, midway up Main Street, contented vegetarians are still squeezing around the postage stamp–size tables (as they have since 1991), surrounded by eccentric wall art, the air alive with the hiss of espresso in the making. Casual ethnic eateries abound—including Amanouz Café, serving bursts of Moroccan flavor. A sprint through town reveals further options of Indian, Greek, French, Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Italian, and Vietnamese cuisines. But if fresh bread is your holy grail, Hungry Ghost Bread is the destination. “Artisanal” and “wood-fired” are weak words for conveying the crack of this crust, the moist cushion within, and the otherworldliness of a cranberry-maple turnover that somehow fell into our bag.

Head baker J. Stevens loading the first batch of the day at Hungry Ghost Bread.

Head baker J. Stevens loading the first batch of the day at Hungry Ghost Bread.

Mark Fleming

Shopping 

We found plenty of excuses to duck indoors, such as Sticks & Bricks, with its artwork, jewelry, and sleek furniture made from reclaimed materials, and Pinch, offering unusual wall art, ceramics, curated clothing, and airy home decor. Thornes Marketplace packs dozens of stores and eateries under one roof, including Paul and Elizabeth’s, a vegetarian mainstay since 1978. Scattered around Northampton is enough reading material to get anyone through winter—Broadside Bookshop, for instance, lines its walls with quality reads plus smart political stickers—but for hours of browsing, nothing beats descending into the cozy den of Raven Used Books. Abundance spills out of the shelves and onto the floor; “Middle English Texts” sits next to “Arrrrgh!” (pirates). It’s an oasis of calm, and an exploration set to the soundtrack of Handel’s Water Music.

Owner Betsy Frederick at Raven Used Books, a haven for local academics and bibliophiles.

Owner Betsy Frederick at Raven Used Books, a haven for local academics and bibliophiles.

Mark Fleming

Real Estate 

At the time of our visit, a stylish two-bedroom townhouse-style condo in a c. 1900 building once known as the Union Street Jailhouse, offering exposed brick walls and a short walk to downtown, listed at $246,888. A breezy four-bedroom renovated 1950s colonial, with granite kitchen counters and proximity to Childs Park, was selling for $399,000. And a two-bedroom eco-friendly contemporary condo with a rooftop deck, less than a mile from the Smith campus, also listed at $399,000.

Uniquely Northampton

Apart from being able to luxuriate at East Heaven (and take a free half-hour tub on your birthday), we barely scratched the surface of Northampton’s local perks. Every type of music and performance venue is represented here, from intimate institutions like the Iron Horse Music Hall to the venerable Academy of Music, the oldest municipally owned theater in the country (c. 1891), which showcases talent ranging from Irish songbird Mary Black to the witty David Sedaris. As for the visual arts scene, it explodes at the twice-yearly Paradise City Arts Festival, an extravaganza of 200-plus top-notch craftspeople and fine artists that’s been dazzling shoppers since 1995. 

Getting Your Bearings 

Just off Main Street, in the center of town, the elegant Hotel Northampton—a member of Historic Hotels of America—is ideally situated for sampling every tropical diversion. And for depths of coziness on a winter’s night, descend into Wiggins Tavern, the hotel’s 1786 tavern (moved from its original site in Hopkinton, New Hampshire), for an incomparably warming Indian pudding. 

 

Eastworks Holiday Pop-Up Store in it's Sixth Year!

Still need to do some holiday shopping? The Eastworks Holiday Shop in Easthampton will be open through December 31st. I've found lovely and affordable gifts, made by local Northampton area artisans, every time I've made time to visit this pop up store, now in it's 6th year. Conveniently located in the Eastworks Building in downtown Easthampton, it's well worth a visit, so put it on your pre-holiday to-do list!  More information in the Daily Hampshire Gazette article to follow. Happy Holidays one and all!

NORTHAMPTON — Now in its sixth year, the Eastworks Holiday Pop Up Store continues to provide the wares of local artisans to those searching for the perfect gift.

Meanwhile, a very different kind of “pop up store” has made a seemingly permanent home in Absolute Zero, selling penguin-themed merchandise — and nothing else.

Beth McElhiney founded the Eastworks Holiday Pop Up Store the year she moved to Easthampton, and into Eastworks, from Martha’s Vineyard.

“I live in the building,” said McElhiney, who said that it made running the pop up all the more convenient for her.

The store runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, although McElhiney said that she may extend its duration into the new year this time.

The shop only sells items from local craftspeople and sellers, most of which are made in Eastworks itself, although there are also vintage items for sale. All told, 26 artists are represented in the shop this year.

McElhiney said that customers are often surprised that the store is a pop up shop, given the quality of what is offered.

“People are pretty stunned,” she said.

This is not McElhiney’s first store, however. In addition to having once owned a store on Martha’s Vineyard, she operated a shop on Madison Avenue in New York City.

One of the artists represented at the shop is McElhiney herself, who makes and enamels new jewelry and resurfaces vintage metal tabletop pieces. The process that McElhiney uses not only resurfaces antique pieces with modern colors, but makes them suitable for serving food at all temperatures and dishwasher safe.

McElhiney’s only employee at the pop up, Carol Ostberg, is another artisan who sells her wares there, offering hand-painted furniture and ornaments. McElhiney’s boyfriend also helps out with big events.

McElhiney said that she intends to keep bringing back the pop up as long as she can find a space. 

“Maybe eventually,” she said, on the prospect of making the pop up a year-round affair.

Penguins and ice cream

Eric Bennett has been selling penguin-theme merchandise since 1984, thanks to a penguin-loving girlfriend and a fateful visit to Faneuil Hall shopping center.

Now Bennett, who moved his business online in 1999, has set up a small shop in Absolute Zero selling all things penguin.

“It’s one of these things where everybody’s a winner,” said Bennett.

While on a walk in September, Bennett asked Absolute Zero if he could set up the shop after he noticed that the business projects a spinning penguin onto the sidewalk at night.

“They should have penguins,” was Bennett’s opinion upon seeing the logo.

However, he noted that it took a few weeks to convince Absolute Zero of this.

“We’re an ice cream store, not a penguin store,” is what Bennett said he was initially told.

In the end, an agreement was made in which Bennett would stock shelves in the store with a variety of penguin items, including socks, plush penguins and toys. They can be purchased at the counter at Absolute Zero, which then receives a cut.

“At the end of the month, we settle up,” he said.

Bennett has two of each of 30 to 40 penguin items at the store.

“It’s like Noah’s Ark,” said Bennett.

On his website, however, Bennett offers around 500 different types of penguin-theme products. Indeed, running Penguin Gift Shop is his full-time business.

Bennett first got into the penguin business after visiting Faneuil Hall with a penguin-loving girlfriend, and getting the thought that the cutest store idea would be one dedicated to penguins. However, he decided that he wouldn’t be willing to move from New York City to Boston to do so.

Then the South Street Seaport opened in Manhattan and Bennett, fresh out of college, decided to open a penguin store there in 1985. In 1997 he set up a website to sell his products, becoming an early commercial user of the internet, and in 1999 he moved out of his space in the seaport, bringing his business entirely online.

He and his family moved to Northampton in 2009, and he said that he enjoys living in the city.

Bennett said that he likes having the shop in Absolute Zero.

“I haven’t really had a retail presence since 1999,” he said.

He also said that he wasn’t sure how the shop would shape up when he first started it, but that he has no intention of doing away with it now. Thus, even though he’s characterized it as a pop up shop, this all-penguin establishment appears to have popped itself into permanency.

Northampton Annual Toy Exchange Is Happening Next Weekend!

It's wonderful to live in a community like Northampton, which values the idea of repurposing. Between local clothing swaps, consignment stores, the re-center and local recycling events - we Northamptonites (and other local communities) like to do our part in the effort to reduce/reuse/recycle. This time of year where we celebrate our connections to one another, it's so great to be able to pass things along to others who might benefit from them. To that end - the Seventh Annual Toy Exchange is almost upon us! It will be held on December 9th at Smith Vocational High School, 80 Locust Street, Northampton. Toy donations will be collected in the school cafeteria from 4:00 PM-8:00 PM on Friday, December 8, and will be available to the public free of charge at 10:00 AM Saturday morning.

Do you have some toys to donate or exchange?

Northampton's Annual Holiday Toy Exchange is scheduled for Friday December 8 and Saturday December 9. Eight years ago a small event started at Nonotuck School where friends exchanged toys at holiday time, and has now grown into a city-wide event where hundreds of people contribute toys and other gifts. Hundreds of other people come to the Smith Vocational High School cafeteria to take home gifts for their children.

Here's the info if you'd like to donate something: 

Donated items must be clean, in working order and complete (no missing pieces). The following items are sought: musical instruments; action
figures/dolls; books, games & puzzles; model kits & building toys; arts/craft kits & creative learning toys; cars & trucks; outdoor toys &
structures; stuffed animals; electronic toys; video games & DVDs; and baby and preschool toys.
 
Collected toys are offered to toy donors and residents referred by community agencies early on Saturday morning and to the general public from 10:00 AM-11:00 AM. Participants are asked to leave children safely at home in the care of others on Saturday.
 
The Toy Exchange is coordinated by the Northampton Department of Public Works and the Reuse Committee and is co-sponsored by the Northampton Public Schools/CFCE via grants from the MA Department of Early Education.

 

Super Bowl Sunday Recipes for Patriots Fans - and Other People

Super Bowl Sunday is nearly upon us, and, once again, The New England Patriots are in the game! We moved to Northampton from New York just over 10 years ago. To the extent that I care about football, I'm still loyal to the Giants, but I get that my fellow Western MA compatriots are super excited about the upcoming event.

I was happy to find this post from food52.com - with innovative recipes for cheese dips to hold my interest during the game, since I won't likely be paying attention otherwise. If you are someone who enjoys cooking and entertaining, as well as football - perhaps you'll find a new recipe below to help spice up your Super Bowl Sunday. Enjoy!

 

If What's on TV Bores You, At Least You'll Have These Cheese Dips

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Yes, you could serve squeaky, toothpick-able cheese cubes at your football or Oscars party. And no one would object.But you could also take that same cheese and make a more metamorphic change: Add spices, herbs, and vegetables, then blend or melt or beer-spike into a dip that's creamy, scoopable, and at home on a variety of "dippers," from tortilla chips to carrot sticks. Suddenly, you've taken that singular, lonely cheese and transformed it into an eligible snack from which hundreds of thousands (or at least a few) spin-off combinations are possible:

 
  • Saltine plus pimento cheese? Yes please.
  • Carrot stick heavy with pimento cheese? Don't mind if I do.
  • Tortilla chip with pimento cheese? Crazier things have been done before.
  • For a full run-down of the best dippers to pair with which cheese dips (like, what one does a strawberry go with?!), see our not very comprehensive nor scientific guide below.
 

Choose your cheese, cheesy, or cheesiest dip below, then prepare or purchase any accompaniments as you see fit:

What's your favorite way to consume cheese in a party setting? "In large quantities" is a totally acceptable answer. Drop others in the comments below!

Two More Local Events for Your Calendar! Northampton and Easthampton.

Tonight, December 9th, from 6:30 until late in the Ballroom at Eastworks in Easthampton - STRUT, "a flamboyant fashion spectacle" and a reboot of Easthampton's annual "Light Up the Arts" Holiday Party, and includes a fashion show, live performances, art installations, a dance party and silent auction. It sounds like it will be a fantastic way to ring in the holiday season! This event is an ECA (Easthampton City Arts) fundraiser.

 

East Works Sign

 

Tomorrow, December 8th from 4-9 pm. The Northampton 2016 Holiday Stroll hosted by the Downtown Northampton Association looks as if it's shaping up to be an exciting event. There will be performances, shopping, artwork to view and make, and food. Main Street will be CLOSED to cars and trucks during the event. So get your parking spot ahead of time and plan to dress warmly and be on foot. All municipal lots will be open and accessible. Check out the hot link above for full details. 


Northampton Holiday Stroll Lights

 

Holidays Sales in Northampton, MA

LOCAL HOLIDAY SALES 

holiday banner

Well, it's that time of year again. If you haven't broken the bank on Black Friday through Cyber Monday (or #GivingTuesday) sales, here is a list of some Northampton area sales where local vendors sell their beautiful wares! Click on the links below for full details.

Cottage Street Studio Sale in Easthampton, MA this Friday (TODAY!), December 2nd

Pastiche @ Click Workspace  at Click Workspace in Northampton, MA on December 9th and 10th

Northampton Winter Craft Fair December 3rd and 4th at NHS - $4 admission supports Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Hampshire County

Holiday Flea Market at the American Legion Hall in Florence, MA on December 3rd, 9-2 pm 

Rebecca Rose STUDIO SALE - 112 Beacon Street, Florence MA

Dec.9th- 6:00 - 9:00; Dec. 10th - 10:00 - 1:00; Dec. 11th - 10:00 - 1:00


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spend time in your Kitchen!

My nesting instincts have started kicking in again, like clockwork, this month. I can count on this happening every year around January. As the real estate season in the Northampton area winds down (generally this happens before Thanksgiving, and picks up again in late winter/early spring), I find myself getting around to household projects I've been meaning to accomplish. Whether it be learning something new to cook (a couple of weeks ago, I tried my hand at baguettes for the first time!), or picking up the knitting I started last year (and put aside once the snow melted) - finally having that piece of artwork framed (or trying my hand at DIY-ing it), and/or organizing the basement storage area.... This time of year is perfect for back burner projects and goals. 

Since I am someone who loves to cook, and cherishes my time puttering around the kitchen, preparing meals while listening to music and enjoying a glass of wine - the following article I found on the Apartment Therapy blog piqued my interest... This comes on the heels of a recent mini-shopping spree my husband and I just went on to a local kitchen store. We purchased two "perfect" spatulas, baguette baking pans (see aformentioned note of my first attempt at homemade baguettes), a bench scraper (came in quite handy for baguettes), and just-the-right-sized saucepan to help make our time in the kitchen more enjoyable. It's amazing how helpful it is to have the proper tools!  

 

5 Things You Should Buy for Your Kitchen in February
WINTER RESET

 

by Cambria Bold

Megan and Leif's Scandinavian-Inspired Oakland Charmer


If the months of the year are guests at a dinner party, January is the friend who can't stop talking about how great she feels now that she doesn't do [insert most enjoyable things here] anymore. It's admirable, but also kind of annoying. Of course you'd like to be your best self (her words, not yours), but do you have to give up so much in the process? Can't the whole thing be a little more enjoyable?

Thankfully your down-to-earth buddy February is around to keep things real. When January makes you feel like a failure, February steps in to say it's okay to take smaller steps towards your personal betterment, and it's also okay to buy a little something to help you along the way. (He's such a good guy to shop with!) With that in mind, here are five small things to buy for your kitchen next month to keep you moving positively and pleasantly through the new year.

 

1. Something to help you clean better.
Cleaning the kitchen is a daily necessity when you're a cook. You might not love it, but you know how much better you feel after it's done (especially if you do it before you go to bed).

Did you resolve in January to clean your kitchen every day? Then you need proper cleaning tools and pleasant scents. Are your scrub brushes old and crusty? Get a new, better one. Tired of running out of dish cloths all the time? Stock up. Looking for the best-smelling dish soap? This comes pretty close. Anything that makes cleaning more enjoyable is a worthwhile purchase and a win in our book.


2. Something to help you cook better.
Many of us change our eating or cooking habits in January — we go vegan, or Paleo, or gluten-free; we cut out alcohol and add in a daily smoothie. Sometimes those habits stick, but other times they fall away. If it's the latter, you may find you need some new inspiration come February to reorient you and get you back cooking how you want to cook.

This is the time to buy something that'll help make that happen. Restock your spices. Get a nice bottle of olive oil. Pick up a new kitchen tool or upgrade a small appliance, if you can. Think about what would improve your kitchen routines or enhance your cooking, and start there. It doesn't have to be expensive; even something as small as a the best peeler ever can do the trick.

3. Something to help you explore a new cooking interest or master a cooking skill.
Maybe your January resolution had nothing to do with restriction of any kind (good for you!), and instead you chose to explore a new cooking interest. Or maybe you're still digging yourself out from last week's blizzard (along with any good will you had, because apparently that got snowed in when you did), and desperately need a pick-me-up to get you out of the winter doldrums. If any of those are the case, it's time to treat yourself.

Buy a a sourdough starter and see where it takes you. Get a ceramic coffee cone so you can finally try pourover coffee. Buy a wok so you can master stir-frying at home. Spend the day shopping for ingredients so you can cook from Pok Pok, or any special cookbook you've been dying to get into. The world's your oyster!


4. Something to help you maintain a new habit.
It's easy to rag on January for setting the standards too high and setting you up for disappointment when you fail to meet them, but in truth, you appreciate that she challenges you to try new things. Hopefully it's not all over in February, and you've found a healthy new habit you want to keep going.

Are you finally planning out your meals and prepping ingredients for the week on Sunday, just like you've always wanted? Are you actually doing all your shopping for the week on Friday afternoon? Is your pantry still neat and organized, and it's been almost a month? Are you drinking plenty of water every day? Have you eaten dinner at the table every night (and not once on the sofa) this month?

If you're really into this new habit, don't let the momentum go! How can you keep it up? Make sure you have enough containers for your lunch prep. Upgrade your water bottle. Get your knives professionally sharpened. Get a label-maker for your pantry, and take that organization to the next level. Buy flowers for yourself as a little reward every week you keep it up!


5. Something to make you excited about winter cooking.
We are about to hit February, which can be a bleak month, leftover resolutions notwithstanding. But it is also a cozy month — a month where it's okay to cook in flannel PJs and make big pots of soup and drink tea all day long. It's good to embrace the season, and a little purchase next month can help with that.

Buy some high-quality chocolate for hot cocoa, or a thick, heavy mug you can wrap your hands around. Get a nice bottle of red wine to have with dinner (and sip on while you're cooking). Buy another bottle so you can make this rich, heavenly lamb ragu. Get that loaf pan you've been eying so you can bake bread. You're going to make it through, and you're going to be great.

How do you treat yourself in February? Are there any little things you like to buy for yourself this time of year to keep your spirits up or resolutions intact?

(Image credits: Celeste Noche)

Time to make sure you are prepared for winter!

Many of us Northampton area residents are wondering whether this winter will come close, in snow accumulation, to last winter. So far, it's not looking that way - though you can't seem to go anywhere in town today without hearing conversations about the upcoming Nor'easter (the Emperor's New Nor'Easter?). But, impending storm or no, it certainly makes sense to stock up on the types of materials and gadgets that you will be thankful to have on hand once the snow really does start falling. Our local Northampton paper, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, had this article to share, with great ideas about how to be ready for the snowfall when it finally comes. I imagine these items are flying off the shelves at local hardware stores, so put them on your shopping list if you don't already own them!

 

Stock up on the right tools to beat back Old Man Winter

 

R

Photo credit: Kevin Gutting

 

By ERIC GOLDSCHEIDER
For the Gazette

Rock salt mixed with sand is the first thing that comes to mind for many people when the task is melting the ice beneath their feet.

This is a perfectly acceptable solution for a limited number of applications, according to David Chaisson, co-owner of Stadler Ace Hardware in Belchertown. Maybe the bottom of a sloped driveway could use a sprinkling of this gritty concoction that provides the benefit of added traction along with its melting properties. It will give you the grip you need to build momentum as you ascend.

But in most cases you'll want something a little less harsh.

Rock salt is not only hard on metal, accelerating rust, but it also does no favors for concrete. In fact, "it will eat your concrete," said Chaisson. It may not seem like much at first, but the salt, which is perfectly fine on asphalt or blacktop, will start pitting a concrete walkway. Small cracks can develop and when water gets into those and freezes, the expansion will lead to a cascading cycle that will eventually destroy the concrete.

Salt is also not great for shoes, it will burn your pet's feet, and if you track it into the house the carpets will suffer.

The alternative is a product that comes under a variety of names but is usually referred to as Ice Melt. Chaisson carries a brand called Mr. Magic, which he prefers because it goes on orange, allowing for easy even distribution.

"When you are putting it on the white snow you can see where you are putting it to get a nice even mix," Chaisson said, "so you are not putting it on too light or missing some spots."

The active ingredient is calcium chloride. It keeps melting ice even when the overall temperature drops to minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit. That is considerably colder than rock salt, which only keeps melting down to minus 10 degrees.

Chaisson recommends getting your Ice Melt early because it often sells out. Last year it was very hard to find by midwinter.

Depending on your needs, the cheapest way of buying Ice Melt is in a 50-pound bag, though Chaisson recommends buying it in a drum the first time, and then buying refills.

"It's always a good idea to have a drum or some kind of sealable container so you can do your job and then fill it back up," he said. "You have to cover it up and keep the moisture out because if the moisture gets in, it will make it hard as a rock and you have to break it up and it becomes a pain in the neck."

Chaisson said you can apply Ice Melt on the ground before the snow falls or you can put it on ice that has already formed. "Let's say you have a thin layer of ice, you can put it down and it will stay there until the next storm," he said. "It keeps melting until it's melted out." How long that might be depends in part on how well the melted water drains off, or whether it puddles and refreezes.

Roof care

Driveways, walkways and paths to the wood pile are not the only places you want to think of in terms of keeping the snow and ice from piling up, Chaisson said.

A little bit of early intervention when snow starts piling up on the roof can go a long way toward preventing bigger problems.


Most importantly, he said, is to get the right kind of rake (with a long handle) so that you can clear snow off the first few feet of your roof. If you do that, the rest of the roof will take care of itself, as normal sunshine will heat up the shingles just enough to let the snow dissipate in an orderly way.

Ice dams were an issue that people in our area used to deal with once in a decade, said Chaisson, but in recent years they have become an annual phenomenon. That is when ice builds up toward the bottom of the roof and stays there, preventing the melting snow from dripping off. In fact, it can build up and start pooling on the roof and then as it repeatedly melts and freezes it can seep under the shingles and over time cause major damage.

"If it's looking like it's going to stay cold for a while, you should get a bit of your roof opened up even if there is not a lot of snow," said Chaisson.

There is also a relatively new product that has come to the market in the last five years that looks something like a hockey puck that you can put on your roof to help keep the ice from building up.

These are a little pricey, Chaisson said, but they work very well.

"If your roof is frozen solid, especially your gutters, you can throw them up onto your roof a couple of feet," he said. "You don't have to be very accurate and you don't have to send them way up."

The effect may seem to be almost imperceptible at first, but as the pucks (or discs) slowly melt the ice around them the chemical (just like the Ice Melt, it is calcium chloride) drips down with the water, clearing built-up ice along the way. "It may not look like it's doing a lot, but it is doing all the work under the top surface," said Chaisson.

One of the reasons it is so important to clear the lower portion of the roof is that starting in the late afternoon the chilled air coming up can quickly freeze any moisture that gathers there during the day, Chaisson said.

"The wind is what starts the thing because you are melting every day," he said. "Around 4 o'clock you get the uplifting cold."

Throwing snow

Back on the ground, ice is one thing, but snow measured in inches and sometimes feet can be another. Shovels come in at least 30 varieties and brands, ranging from less than $10 to up to $40.

"You truly get what you pay for," Chaisson said. The major differences are between the "pushers" and the "lifters." There are also the so-called "back savers" which have angled posts that allow you to stay in a more upright position as you heave the snow to where you want it to go. The advantage is that you get to let your legs take some of the weight that your back would otherwise handle.

Another variable to look for in shovels is whether the blade is made of metal or plastic. As you might expect, the metal blade is more durable but it might not be the right solution for a deck, for instance, where scratching could be an issue.

And then there are snowblowers. Tom Perron, the owner of Boyden & Perron in Amherst, prefers to call them "snow throwers" but, he said, the terms are interchangeable and are usually dependent on who the manufacturer is.

There is a lot of variety there.

The simplest power tool for clearing your front steps and maybe a walkway or small driveway is a power shovel, which is electric and plugs into the wall. An obvious advantage is that you don't have to deal with smelly gas and oil. There are also no spark plugs or carburetors that need to be serviced. Besides being clean, they are also light, so you can easily take them out to a deck you want to clear. The obvious down side is that you have to be within reach of a power source and you have to manage the cord while you are doing your work.

Perron sells three sizes of power shovels.

When it comes to gasoline-powered snow throwers, there is a major distinction between single-stage machines and double-stage machines.

For the first, the auger (think spiral blade) touches the ground directly. As it spins it throws the snow off to the side. This is good when you are working on smooth surfaces and the snow is not too deep or tightly packed.


The motion of the blade helps propel the machine forward as you go. Depending on use, the blade needs to be replaced every few years. It can throw the snow 25 to 30 feet, according to Perron. He sells these in seven different models.

For bigger jobs you will want a two-stage snow thrower. In this case the auger does not touch the ground, which means you can use it on a wider variety of surfaces, including rougher terrain like a lawn or a gravel driveway. The rotating blade in this case cuts into the snow and feeds it to a secondary mechanism, called the impeller, which is what throws the white stuff up to 40 feet.

Unlike the single-stage snow thrower, this machine has a transmission, which means that you can adjust the power depending on the job. The wheels are also connected to the transmission so you get a power assist in moving the machine forward.

"Some of the larger snow throwers are easier to use than the smaller ones," Perron said.

He sells seven models of the two-stage snow throwers. Those at the higher end include features like heated handles and headlights as well as, of course, more power and a wider intake so you can move more volume more quickly.

Finally, if you want to go really large, there are riding snow throwers. These are for people who have large surfaces they need to clear quickly.

The added benefit of these is that they have a dual use as lawn mowers in the summer.

That is something nice to think about as you head out into the frigid environs of a heavy blanket of snow left behind by a winter storm.

Eric Goldscheider can be reached at eric.goldscheider@gmail.com