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Sunday, April 29, 2012


Asper: harsh, rough, rugged
Grass: something grown in a lawn around the dandelions and violets
Asper-grass*: rough grass found in a garden patch

You may be seeing the signs pop up around town: $3.50/bunch, Grass -- $4.00; it's asparagus season in the Valley! That rough, green, fibrous, Hadley grass is once again decorating local fields and gardens, being presented at roadside farm stands on nearly every street, and being offered on dinner tables as a tasty, fresh, spring vegetable.

Growing up I was never a fan of asparagus, but living in Hadley has changed my mind; now I can't seem to get enough.  Roasted with shallots, olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, it makes a delicious side to nearly any dinner.  This week I'm going to try as a bed of vegetable puree under seared salmon.  And perhaps, if I get really brave, I'll try asparagus ribbons around an egg or asparagus spaghetti....  But Hadley Grass Soup sounds really good, too.
Don't miss out this season.  Local asper-grass is tasty and versatile.  Make sure to stop at one of those farm stands today and pick some up for dinner (or breakfast).

*Asper-grass is a made-up compound word, and as far as I can tell from looking in the Oxford English Dictionary, actually bears no relation to the real word "asparagus."

Friday, April 27, 2012

UMass Falcons

The peregrine falcon has a sad and difficult history in the Eastern United States, with the use of DDT on crops causing the falcon eggs to be thin-shelled and to break under the weight of parent birds during incubation.  By 1966 it seemed that peregrine falcons in Massachusetts were a thing of the past.  When DDT was banned in 1972 (30 years ago), efforts were made to reestablish the falcon, and now there are more than a dozen nesting pairs in Massachusetts.
The UMass Du Bois Library is home to one of these nesting pairs, and they have laid eggs.  You can watch the falcons, and hopefully the chicks in upcoming weeks, from the webcam on the library roof.
Enjoy your view of the birds!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Swan in the Pond

The Kestrel Land Trust has some beautiful conservation land that I'm just beginning to discover.  The other day, Mr Madley and I were cycling/hiking/walking and found a lovely bit of it on Lake Warner.  And this lovely bit had some lovely birds.
For example, the swan:
The Kestrel Land Trust is a special charitable trust founded to assist conservation, protect watersheds, provide walking trails, and create passive recreation areas.  Visit their website to learn more.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Coming Back Soon

I am pleased to announce that the forced leave of absence will soon be coming to an end -- thanks to the upcoming arrival of a new computer.  Much has transpired over these past few weeks, and I've been feeling fairly neglectful: the new Firestone construction is being built up on the Home Depot property, Mr Madley and I saw (what we think was) a coyote in our backyard at dusk one evening, there's a new member of the school board committee (Humera Fasihuddin), the soft-serve creamery on Rt 47 is open for business, and there's an online petition to make the street in front of the elementary school an actual "school zone," the garden has been planted with early spring vegetables (snap peas, broccoli, kale, onions), and spring has sprung (though today it may feel more like summer) -- there's a lot going on!
I hope to be back in full swing by sometime next week.  Looking forward to "seeing" you all here again!  Happy Patriots Day!
(Don't forget that taxes are due to be filed by tomorrow.)