Friday, March 27, 2009

4 Words: Chocolate Dipped Marshmallow Peeps.

As if this beautiful 65 degree sunny Friday couldn't get any better, I give you the annual return of Easter favorite here at Mt. Tom's - Chocolate-dipped Marshmallow Peeps.

You know you want some.

They come in sets of two, and it'll only set you back a buck. How sweet is that?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

St. Paddy's Parade, Good News, & Ice Out!

I must confess that until this past weekend I hadn't even gone to the giant Holyoke St. Paddy's Day parade. I'd heard plenty of stories about how big (3rd largest in the U.S. next to NYC & Chicago.) and fun and crazy it can get. I've even been invited to a couple route-side parties. But I just never got myself over there. Well, not only did I go to the parade this year, I was in it! I was recruited by Briana and the rest of the Easthampton City Arts gang to march along as they introduced Holyoke to the upcoming Easthampton BearFest. (Granted, many on the sidelines were yelling, 'Go Beerfest!', but as you can see by the crowd photos, I'd say that was to be expected.)

Before I get to the images of the ECA gang, I had to snap this one of the ice cream float in line in front of us... And the Opa-Opa float behind us...

The Easthampton High School band provided the fine live music (and admittedly some flashbacks of my old marching band days) for our 3 mile afternoon stroll through the Holyoke streets of 300,000.

The streets were lined with people, from the K-Mart plaza to downtown, but there certainly were drinking hotspots..

Amy Davis' daughter Ava was a trooper. Granted, she got a lift, but to her credit, she never stopped waving those little hands...

Introducing Patty O'Bear, created by local artist Amy Davis. This is the first and only bear you'll see until the opening weekend of BearFest during ArtWalkEasthampton June 13th.

Ok, you might also catch Greg Stone and his bear in the window of the Nashawannuck Gallery, but that it...

Not to be confused with our buddy Trace Meek, in a bear suit, standing here with Briana Taylor. Ice Sculpture, character acting, web design, the man can do it all...

Another party spot...

The ECA 'float'...

And entourage...

One of the cooler parts of the parade, the Shriner's in their crazy little cars...

There was a lot of waiting around before the start, but I must admit it was a fun experience.

And, in keeping with the upbeat, I thought this was an interesting article to pass along. A theme I've latched onto a lot of late... Selling the Silver Lining. A mainstream publication admitting the news is disproportionately bad, who would have thought...

My neighbor's cats took the break in the weather a few days ago as a chance to get some sun...

And last but not least, the ice is finally out on the Nashawannuck Pond. Yesterday it was there. Today it is not... March 24th, not sure if that's early, late, or just about average. Anybody keeping track of that here? Minesota's pretty good about this stuff. There must be somebody with a little notebook...

Ok, warm weather, you're welcome to come back . Hope to see it, and you, soon.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome to Spring.

At a balmy 28 degrees wind chill out there right now, it may not exactly feel like Spring. But since the calendar says it's so, it must be so.

Aside from the hearty and early bloomin' crocus peaking it's head out, signs of Spring seem elusive as yet. Heck, I took this shot two days ago...

That's where the Smith College Bulb Show comes to the rescue, providing a few helpful images of Spring. In case you haven't been (you've got a few more days...), here are some of my favorites from this year's visit...

Happy Spring to you and yours. See you soon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mt. Tom Reservation sans color.

These warm weekend days have been great for two things (in my world at least), ice cream sales and melting the no longer welcome snow that's been blanketing us since mid-December.

Today, I took my trusty Canon digital SLR out for a little stroll in Mt. Tom park. As you probably have discovered, there are lots of cool trails to tramp. One of my favorites is the 'Bray Inner Trail Loop'. It's a short little trail that circumnavigates Lake Bray near the far end of the park. It seems much more pond than lake, though. But as is evidenced by many of the trees around the lake, the beavers don't seem to mind at all.

Nor do the Canadien geese and ducks. I wouldn't call them mixing it up, but neither seemed to mind the other's presence on what remains of the ice. (Click on an image to get the full effect.)

As I've griped about before, it's a challenge to take an interesting photograph this time of year, as we anxiously wait for color to return to the landscape. In the meantime, a little greyscale will have to suffice.

I call this one, 'Cat 'o Nine-tails in hibernation'...

Geese glide...

I did notice the shiny new trail signs throughout the reservation. They were much needed and look great. Not sure who is responsible for the upgrade, but thanks, nicely done....

Well, that's it for now. Thanks to all who came out for a cone this weekend, a taste of the summer action!

Enjoy your St. Paddy's Day.

Feel free to stop in for a pint of Guinness or a cup of Irish Coffee.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Luke Cavagnac likes ice cream.

There are many famous and immensely talented artists that live and work in Easthampton. It's just one of the things that makes it such a cool place to live. Not sure if it's the laid back atmosphere, lower cost of living, beautiful landscape, plethora of colleges, or the many converted old mills that make ideal and affordable studio spaces that draws (and holds) artists here. Perhaps it's a combination of all those things and more. It may be a little bit of a chicken or the egg kind of thing, but this area is just overflowing with good creative energy. There are many hip galleries here in western Mass, from MassMoca in North Adams to the Hosmer gallery in Forbes Library in Northampton. We even have a nice little gallery in our building, the Nashawannuck Gallery.

And until recently, one of the few times we regular folk have had easy access to the art scene here in Eashampton has been during open studios weekends, held just twice a year.

That's just one of the things that make Artwalk Easthampton so cool. Every second Saturday you can catch a bunch of shows featuring all the local artists you love. What's not to like about that? Can't afford it? Can you afford free? There's even a free shuttle bus.

Next artwalk is tomorrow night (Saturday). 5-8pm. And here at Mt. Tom's you can check out a fun little show by nearly a household name around here, Luke Cavagnac. When I asked him to do it, he said sure. If you've ever been to his studio/gallery in EastWorks, you know he has literally thousands of paintings on his walls. They're all unique, in themselves and to his style, and extremely affordable. I figured he'd just grab 15-20 paintings off the wall, throw them in his mini-van, and fill my walls with color.

Little did I know, he'd create a whole show of ice cream paintings. Leave it to Luke.

The weather looks good. The lineup looks great. And the walls here will be covered with ice cream. What more could you ask for in a free night out?

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Think Spring.

As a respite from the gloom of the day and the impending chill of tomorrow's day, might I suggest a quick trip over to Smith College. Yes, it's annual bulb show time at the Smith College greenhouses. They're open daily, 10-4pm, and it's free. I'm including a little taste from my photo excursion there last year. As for the warm, humid air and floral aromas, you're just going to have to go get those yourself...

I thought I might also include today's quote from the shop quoteboard. Do with it what you will...

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself." - Alan Alda

Don't let Mom Nature fool you. Spring is still on the way.

Monday, March 09, 2009

It's all about confidence, baby.

Amongst the sea of doom & gloom that is the mainstream media, I saw this and thought it was worth sharing...

Watch CBS Videos Online

Hope you're enjoying today's little winter encore.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

If you like the weather, wait a minute.

It seems hard to believe after such an amazing weekend, but it appears that although winter may be sipping her last drink, she's not quite ready to leave the party...

The chairs were out on the front sidewalk. The shop was bustling all weekend. The ice fisherman on the pond were wearing t-shirts and didn't need campfires to make it through their morning of ice angling (although it appears that little leather flask under the jacket has other uses besides warmth). Best of all, the townsfolk emerged from their prolonged winter hibernation and were wandering around town once again. Dogs got to enjoy their old favorite fire hydrants after many months of those same old trees in the backyard. Strangers smiled at each other as they passed by. It was one of those prized early spring weekends that makes all those days and months of cold, snowy winter suffering worth it.

Well, maybe not worth it, but I'm certain the balmy weekend was much appreciated nontheless.

I hope you got out, got some natural vitamin D into your winter-weary system, and maybe even started that yard cleanup.

I'm guessing with tomorrow's forecast as it is, you might not even mind going to work this Monday.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

'tis the season.

For a savory batch of Girl Scout Thin Mint ice cream. Actually, it's the second batch since the G-scouts set me up with my annual handful of cookie boxes. It's a hearty mix of Thin Mint cookie pieces, with a dark fudge swirl, in a plenty minty base. This one sells fast, even in the 'off-season', so come on by soon!

And in the spirit of the upcoming St. Paddy's day, I just cooked up a fresh batch of Guinness Ice Cream. Customers often make a face of disbelief when they see this one on the menu board, but I gotta say, it's actually really good. It's definitely got a Guiness Stout edge to it, but the sweetness of the ice cream and a little vanilla stave off the bitterness. I could try to describe it to you all day, but the only way for you to know is to come down and have a sample. Come on, I dare ya...

But wait, there's more.

I've got another new St. Paddy's Day-like flavor I'm planning to concoct next week.

Ready for this one?

Irish Coffee.

Coffee ice cream with a little Jameson's whiskey thrown in to make it a party.

What more could you ask for from your local ice cream shop?

Enjoy the warmup, and see you soon.

Monday, March 02, 2009

18 Days.

...Until Spring. Wouldn't know it to look outside today. According to the official weather watchers, we got nearly a foot of snow here in Easthampton. Just when we were starting to see signs of bare ground after a nearly complete snowcovered winter. The school kiddos must be looking at school in July this year!

After the shovel out, I took the camera with me for a little stroll, post-storm. I must confess, although I'm not sure if it was because of the biting cold wind or that maybe I am officially done with winter, but my heart just wasn't in the photo-taking. A sure sign that I, for one, am ready for a new season.

Aside from the shot of my truck, I did manage to catch one of the few people working today, our dedicated postman, Don, getting it done as always...

Hope you're all dug out and relaxing comfortably on your couch.