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Friday, May 27, 2011

What's Going On

There's now a calendar page on the blog that will hopefully fill up with plenty of information on Hadley occasions and doings about the area -- like the two Hadley events this weekend -- the Memorial Day Parade and the Antique Tractor Show, both on Sunday, both free.
Hopefully, that page and this post will spur comments and serve as a virtual lawn sign to announce what's going on around town (and even a little beyond).

(FYI & disclaimer: all comments are moderated and must be approved before being posted; event comments will be taken as information and may or may not be added to the calendar.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Books @ the East Street Studios

A few weeks ago Mr. Madley and I finally made our way to the East Street Studios one afternoon to check out the used bookstore Grey Matter Books.  What we discovered while we were there was much more than just a store with used books.
Two bookstores inhabit adjoining space at the back of the East Street Studios buildings; their names don't show up on the main signs for the space (we'll explore those later), but they do have their own signs pointing the way.
An unassuming sign for a wonderful little used book & record store.

Mountains and hills and valleys of books (and records), waiting to be picked up, paged through, and possibly even read on one of those chairs or couches just begging to be sat in.

In the space adjoining, through a naturally open doorway, is Troubadour Books.  (I hear tell that there is another Troubadour Books in Hatfield -- a branch or the main -- but I have not gone out of my way to verify its current existence.)

Two bookstores, one basement, about a million books -- fiction, classic, science fiction, first edition, children's, academic, foreign language, vintage, philosophic, bestseller, obscure, art, comic, and more.  One who likes books, or any subject written of in the pages of books, could easily wile away an afternoon (or even a day) roaming the stacks and getting lost in the pages.
Looking for even more in used books?  If you're willing to take a little drive, you can also visit The Bookmill.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Turkey Crossing

Rocky Hill Road residents have started a "slow down, save the turkeys" campaign.  If you've driven, walked, or ridden up Rocky Hill Road recently, you may have noticed the signs:

(Click on pictures to get a fuller view of the signs.)

I think the message is pretty clear -- slow down on Rocky Hill -- and always be on the lookout for kids, pets, and turkeys (and cyclists).  And it's a worthwhile message.  I know people zip up and down that road, and I have frequently seen this local flock of turkeys feeding on someone's front lawn, one member of which I recently saw dead along the side of the road. 
Please -- be mindful, be cognizant, be considerate.  Help keep our children, our friends, our pets, and our local wildlife alive and safe.
5/18: If you've driven on Rocky Hill recently, you may have noticed that the "turkey" signs are missing. Nick Grabbe reports in today's Daily Hampshire Gazette that the signs were vandalized last week and that Police Chief Hukowicz is ordering and paying for two replacement "turkey crossing" signs.

5/20: Here's the article about the Police Chief replacing the signs:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You Eat Ferns?!

Fiddlehead ferns are in season, and their season is short, so get some while you can.  You may have seen them in the markets, for sale in the local vegetable section for $4.99-5.99/lb, and thought "what am I supposed to do with those?"  Well, you are definitely supposed to eat them.
Cook them up like you would asparagus (a little olive oil, salt, and pepper) and enjoy them as one of your vegetables at dinner.  Before cooking them, however, be sure to soak or blanch them before cooking to get the brown papery covering and little fern pieces out of the frond; it's good to snip off the brown ends, as well.
Fiddleheads, rinsed and ready for cooking.
For more information, this page on Valley Locavore has some great info.  You might also be able to get a flier at Atkins Market (where I originally got my information a couple of years ago), or there's an article from the DHGazette titled "Fresh from the Valley" (from just April 9 -- and I started drafting this article on Sunday...).

Happy fern foraging & feasting -- they really are quite tasty!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Yesterday, We Bought Fruit Trees

Last year, when we bought our house in Hadley, two things I knew we had to do were buy a piano (check) and plant some fruit trees (almost check).  Both of these two things are reminiscent of home, family, and community -- there was always a piano in my home when I was growing up, and my parents always planted fruit trees, even when they knew they might only be in a house for a couple of years.  Occasional evenings spent singing around the piano; autumn afternoons spent picking and eating fresh apples from the trees (our trees and orchard trees) -- a good way to grow up.

So yesterday marked a happy day -- with a "welcome to the neighborhood" coupon in hand, we headed over to Hadley Garden Center to pick out fruit trees.  Apples, peaches, cherries, and plums abounded, with pears and other varieties in the mix (including some amazing multi-apple grafted trees).  With a little help from the kind folks at the garden center, we picked out two apple trees and a peach, and two bags of planting mixture, all of which they managed to get into my little Honda civic to help us save on the delivery fee ($20).  Great customer service.

What kinds of trees did we buy?  One red fuji apple, one suncrisp apple, and one cresthaven peach.  We weren't entirely decided on which varieties of apple we wanted when we visited (though honeycrisp was high on our list), and actually made a rather spur-of-the-moment decision.  Upon post-purchase research, however, I am quite delighted and excited with the choices made.  (There were many other interesting apples available, which we may consider in the future: cinnamon spice, wolf river, pound sweet, winesap, arkansas black, wealthy, smokehouse....  Also, as I wrote, cherries!)
The peach tree was something of a bonus, simply because we had a few extra dollars on the coupon and couldn't make up our minds about another apple tree.  It's possible that we will have a peach or two this summer; almost definitely next (there are already tiny little peaches on the tree).  And the apples -- well, we're looking forward to those appearing within the next 2-3 years.  I can hardly wait.
Blossoms on the suncrisp.
A slice of apple trivia -- the Suncrisp, which I had never heard of, is a cross of Golden Delicious and Cox Orange Pippen and was bred at Rutgers.  It does not show up in supermarkets because it is not considered a "pretty" apple; instead, it is usually sent to food manufacturers.  Nevertheless, I hear the taste is quite nice and it has a long storage life. Looking forward to it!

I could buy and plant apple trees and other fruit trees until there is no room left in the lawn -- I love them!  What experience and memories do you have with planting, growing, tending to, and picking apples & peaches?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Annual Town Meeting, May 2011

The Annual Town Meeting was tonight -- you may have seen the signs today along the streets of Hadley, or you may have seen my blog post or tweets.  I'll give a basic recap from my notes:

The meeting actually started at 7:16 in the cafetorium of Hopkins Academy; it was opened by the Town Moderator Kirk Whatley.  He introduced members of the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee(the Finance Committee currently has an opening, if you're interested; Moderator Whatley recommended speaking with members of the committee to see just what you would be getting into....) , Town Administrator, Town Clerk, and John Scibak (State Representative, in the audience). 
The pledge was said before kicking off the meeting, which was run according to Town Meeting Time.
The first four articles were housekeeping articles and all passed unanimously (fund appropriations and such).The fifth article dealt with town budget by department.  It passed, with a recommended total budget of $13,736,511 -- $406,016 more than was appropriated for FY2011, but $80,000 less than was requested.
Article 6 (water reserves) passed unanimously.
Article 7 (out-of-district tuition) was passed over in order to give time to research specifics and answers to probably questions -- it will be back in the fall.
Articles 8 & 9 (free cash) passed unanimously; 10 (collective bargaining) was passed over.
Articles 11-14 (community preservation) passed unanimously, and included giving monies to the Goodwin Memorial Library to fund a structural engineering study and to create a space usage plan.
Articles 15 & 16 passed.  Article 17 passed unanimously.  All three dealt with community preservation.  (Apparently we're working towards 4000 acres of protected farmland.  I really need to get my hands on a copy of the long-range plan for the town, ...which I now see is available online on the town website.)

Article 18 was a return to an article tabled in the fall; it required a 2/3 vote to adopt linguistic changes to the zoning bylaw in order to keep it consistent with Massachusetts laws and also to keep wording consistent within the bylaw itself.  Numbers 11, 12, 22, 25, 31, 33 were excluded.  It passed 135-1.

The real excitement came with Article 19 -- Open Space Preservation.  There was much discussion over this bylaw.  Questions, comments, answers, pleas.  After all the back-and-forth, tabling the article was brought to vote and passed 103-39, giving committees and townsfolk time to study it, discuss it, and think about it some more before it is presented again at the fall meeting (there were extra handouts for this one).
The meeting was adjourned around 9pm.
If you haven't been to a town meeting yet, it's well worth missing a night of TV to attend -- it's very entertaining and informative; a bit dry at times, perhaps, but there are moments of downright hilarity and enlightenment.  Thank you to the 173 people who showed up tonight.  Everyone was very excited about the large turnout, and the meeting didn't have to be rescheduled!

For more information find a copy of the warrant or watch Channel 5.

And some side notes: the Hadley Mothers Club was there building their funds with cookies and coffee and other goodies, there were two sign-language interpreters at the front of the room,and those chairs are super uncomfortable to sit in for an extended period of time -- I was so happy to get out of them.

Now it's past by bedtime.  Good night!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

First Asparagus of the Season

Hadley is known far and wide for this early spring, stalky green crop.
And boy, did I hate it when I was a kid.  But somehow, I now love it; I look forward to the spring when I know I can pick up local asparagus from a stand in someone's front lawn on the way home from work.

Tonight, it was a bedtime snack(!).
This is how I fix it:
Baked, with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder at 350 for 15 minutes, give or take, depending on doneness (I like the stalks to still have some crunch to them).  Sometimes I add shallots to the mix.
So simple, it doesn't even seem worth writing out as a recipe.
How do you like your asparagus?  I'm looking forward to trying it grilled someday soon....

Hadley asparagus.  Currently available at your local roadside stand.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Almost Famous

Last week, a colleague of mine mentioned seeing this blog featured in the newspaper (Daily Hampshire Gazette).  This, of course, made me curious -- I knew nothing about being in the paper.  So after work the following day, I made my way to the library.  I was headed to the library anyway -- I needed to pick up a few new books and drop off those I had already read.  Upon arrival I headed off to where they keep the newspapers and found the current DHG.  However, much to my disappointment, the entire middle section had been removed, and was nowhere to be found.  I checked a few other days worth of papers, but there was no mention of Madley Hadley, and so I decided to cut my losses and be content with the library books.
To make a long story short, the librarians actually had the article at hand (they were quite pleased with it), and made me a copy of it.  (Click on the picture to see it.)

Perhaps you, dear reader, are one of those who saw the article in the paper and stopped by to see what all the fuss was about, or was one of those to whom the link was forwarded -- there was a record number of hits on the blog the day of and the day after the article.  If you have visited once, are visiting again, or are here to stay, welcome!  Please peruse, leave comments; for a little more (or a little less) you can even follow the twitter feed.  Thank you for visiting.

Thanks to the Daily Hampshire Gazette and Phoebe Mitchell for discovering and spreading word about the blog.

Special thanks to my colleague and the librarians at the Hadley public library.  If not for you, I would have missed my two days of fame!

This blog is also featured on Pioneer Valley Local Greenie -- more on that in a later post.

I should make note here that the bread picture in the article was taken by Mr. Madley.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spring has Returned from a Long Winter's Rest

Spring has been late in coming to our house this year -- last year at this time, blossoms had already been on the apple trees for a couple of weeks, the viburnum and lilacs were thick with blooms, and young plants were much further out of the ground.  But this week has finally brought the warmth and rain and sun needed for spring blooms and growth.  Every day (at least twice), I walk the perimeter of the house and notice new shoots that have appeared from the earth and fresh colours that have opened to the sky and new leaves that have unfurled.
Spring has returned from its long winter's rest, and it feels, smells, and looks wonderful!
(For a clearer, larger image, click on the picture.)
Violets decorating the lawn.
The ostrich fern unfurls.
Vinca blooms blue.
More fern unfurling.
A lone grape hyacinth.
A single narcissus.
A cluster of vinca.
The forsythia sunshine.
Happy May Day -- it's sure to be a glorious month!

PS -- the birds have also decided it's spring -- the catbirds are back!