Friday, April 30, 2010

Weekend Events in Etown.

Just a couple quick reminders, tomorrow starting at 8 a.m. is the annual town cleanup, aka community day. Meeting place is the Chamber of Commerce office on Union Street. They, and your fellow townsfolk appreciate it.

Also tomorrow is Recyle Day . Another event sponsored by your friendly Easthampton Chamber. A good chance to unload that old fridge or PC while supporting local charities.

And on Sunday, it's Derrill's Race , a 5K run/walk to benefit the Derrill's Race scholarship fund, the Cam Neely Fund, and other local charities. It's a fun event. Hope you can stop by and either give it a run/walk or a few cheers for the participants. It'll be my first time running, looking forward to it. Looks to be a pretty flat course, unlike that last one I did...

Hope you enjoy summer's weekend visit. If it finds you hankerin' for ice cream, come on by for a try of a couple special flavors I'm making today... Strawberry Cheesecake, Lavender, Cow Tracks, and Nutter Butter.

You know that last one intrigues you.

Happy weekend to you.

One last thing, May hours kick in tomorrow, including now open Mondays!

Sundae - Thursday 12-9 p.m.
Friday, Saturday 12 - 9:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ode to the Dandilion.

ICD Disclaimer: Like my sorbet or soy gelato, this post is completely dairy-free. Sometimes, I like to use this blog as my own little creative writing outlet. It seems this is one of those times. Read on if you’d like or feel free to go back to what you were doing and come on back soon. I’m sure I’ll be ranting about something ice creamish soon, most likely a wacky new bacon flavor, a bit of Easthampton trivia, or what I did with my Tuesday morning.

Thanks for sticking around. I call this one my ‘Ode to the Dandelion’.

Last fall, I got a great housewarming gift from one of those cool regulars who, when they come to the shop for ice cream or their weekly allotment of Indigo coffee beans, it feels more like a friend popping by for a hello than a ‘how may I help you today?’ Whenever one of her family or friends buys a new house, she buys them 150 daffodil bulbs as a housewarming gift. It’s just what she does. Last year, when she got wind I had bought a house, she instantly informed me I should soon expect my doorstep to be darkened by a large box of bulbs from The Netherlands or Holland, Michigan. True to her word, the bulbs arrived last fall, just before the ‘pre-first frost planting window’ closed. I went right out and bought myself one of those fancy bulb hole digger contraptions and proceeded to spend a good long morning planting these hundred and a half bulbs, along with a few others (tulips, hyacinths, etc.) I’d purchased myself, all around my new yard. I held no high expectations that anything would actually happen come Spring. I was simply covered with dirt and chock full of hope.

Wouldn’t you know, thanks to my friend Rema’s generous gift and those few hours of bulb burying last fall, my yard right now has been transformed into a mini Keunkhof wonder garden. I went for a run a few mornings ago, and as I was cooling down with a walk around my little estate in the (East)Hamptons, I admired the impressive explosion of color and feast for bees that I, and the previous owners, had fostered. ‘Almost looks like I know what I’m doing,’ I mumbled to myself as I wholeheartedly albeit figuratively patted myself on the back and took a little time to sniff the flowers.

And then I stepped on a dandelion.

‘So what’, you say, it’s just a weed after all. A prop for kids to sing a silly song then pop the yellow flower off its stem with their little thumb. The typical reaction of a lawn owner to the sight of a dandelion, or two hundred, is most definitely not the same one my 150 daffodils have been getting from the neighbors these past few weeks, that’s for sure. I believe it’s something more like, ‘Oh crap, time to go pick weeds out of the lawn again.’

Which of course got me thinking… why is a tulip beautiful to us yet a similarly flowering annual, or is it perennial, gets its head popped off or finds its untimely end amongst a crop dusting of poison whenever it finds itself in the middle of someone’s precious green lawn?

And why am I stepping on a dandelion whilst at the same time gazing lustfully at a bed of purple hyacinths?

My wonderings got me to the usual destination of such mental unknowing, Google, and from there, Winkipedia. Perhaps the dandelion was responsible for some heinous and unspeakable crime back in its earlier days. Maybe it was to be the Dandelionflower that was originally slated to shuttle over our forefathers four score and seven plus a hundred years ago. That is until the sordid past of the dandelion was revealed, to the shock and horror of villagers across England, resulting in the bow of one ship full of rebel pilgrims scraped clean and redubbed Mayflower, just in the nick of time as it readied itself for that historic transatlantic cruise.

But I digress. Winkipedia covers all the usual aspects – origins, properties, uses. Midway through there’s a line, ‘Dandelions are fondly thought of throughout the world.’ And why not, they ‘contain abundant amounts of vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium’. Winky goes on to tell me dandelions are part of traditional Mediterranean, Asian, and Korean cooking and even have medicinal uses in many areas of the world. This versatile yellow flower is used to make wine, fancy teas, and even coffee. Hardly sounds like the resume of a weed to me. Perhaps it might help if we referred to them by their formal name - Taraxacum?

If I were a dandelion, I’d be feeling pretty good about myself right now actually, but since I’m not, my mind returns to my original pondering - why do tulips end up lounging in fancy glass vases in the center of long mahogany dining tables while the dandy ones compost in the composter?

In other words, who got to decide which flower is beautiful and which one is not?

After all, isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder?

Can we start a petition or a Facebook fan page declaring dandilions the ‘in’ flower? How cool would it be if you were to wake up one Spring morning to a sea of dandilions in your front lawn and be able to say, ‘Wow, that’s so beautiful! I’m never mowing again. Where’s my camera?’

Ah, but if only my brain could stop there.

My next thought was, ‘Who decided that suntans make a person more beautiful?’ Tanning booth anyone? And ‘What makes teenage girls so mean to each other when one doesn’t conform exactly to their magazine-influenced image of ‘beautiful’? Then there’s the whole plastic surgery thing. Not sure I need to even turn onto that street right now - suffice to say, it seems like a lot of pain, risk, and expense to pay for a little self-confidence booster. Again I wonder, who got to decide what’s beautiful and what isn’t?

After all, isn’t beauty only skin, er stem, deep anyway?

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a beautiful form when I see one, whether it be on a big screen, in a magazine, or walking down Cottage Street with her dog.

Of course, none of these vain thoughts stop me from wondering why I find what I find about these people beautiful. Although I suppose the good news is one I find beautiful may not be the same one you do, and viseversa. I'd venture so far to surmise that everyone is beautiful to someone. Shouldn't that be enough?

I can’t say I have the answer to that question, or most others for that matter, but the thought is enough for me to lift my foot off a small gathering of dandilions under my sneaker, lean over, and snap a picture.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What I did on my day off.

We interrupt our normal ice cream banter and meandering rants on life to bring you a mini-photo essay from this past monday, Patriots' Day. Thanks to a buddy with weekend season tickets to the Red Sox, I was able to partake in what is always a great day to be in Boston. That was especially true this year, with perfect spring weather for all.

I didn't take many shots, but my trusty Canon Digital Elph did manage to escape my pocket a couple times. Thought I'd share a few images with you...

Not a great game (especially compared to the last two walkoff wins), but as they say, a bad day at Fenway still beats a good day most anywhere else.

The cool thing about the Patriots' Day Sox game is it's an 11:05 a.m. start, which means when the game is over, it's just a quick couple of blocks over to Kenmore Square to catch the thousands of marathoners just as they're gasping toward the finish. Didn't quite make it out of Fenway to see the elite runners, but for me it's the 'regular folk' that most inspire...

Next it was a crowded T ride over to Faneuil Hall for post-game beverages and snacks with friends and the throngs of tourists that were doing the same.
While on our wander over, we crossed paths with this band. Always cool to bump into a gang of patriots on Patriots' Day...

Among the stops at Faneuil Hall, Kingfish Hall, for a tasty round or two of cherrystones and little necks on the half-shell. Not quite my Boston favorite, the Union Oyster House, but a new close second. Definitely a nice upgrade from the Yawkee Way sausage grinder for lunch (not that the grinder wasn't its own form of fine dining)...

A couple more snack and beverage stops later, and it was off on the obligatory dessert run to Mike's Pastry in the North End. Amazing pastries in all shapes and forms, gelato and great coffee. This place is chaos every minute of every day, but well worth the wait...

We ended up hitching a ride back to the burbs with some other friends. Probably not normally a mentionable part of the day, except when the commute home includes a trip on the commuter boat from the New England aquarium to Quincy via Hull...

Logan airport, no ash cloud in our airspace...

Catch ya later Boston. Been wicked fun...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thanks, thanks, & mmm.

This just out....

Thanks for your vote, much appreciated.

And for you Facebookers, thanks too for joining the new Mt. Tom's fan page. What an amazing response, 806 fans in just the first few days, nice! Feel free to click on the image below to jump on over...

We just got linked up with Twitter too. Status updates go right to twitter followers. We're MtTomsIceCream. Don't really understand the whole twitter, tweet thing yet, but I think it may be just the thing to let people know what's new and exciting here (e.g. new flavors, specials, holiday stuff, etc.).

And the new Facebook page is already bringing in a ton of great feedback, flavor ideas, and more.

A hearty thanks to Patrick Brough for the twitter tutorial. Facebook, Twitter, Gowalla.. so many ways to connect, so little time!

Speaking of new and interesting, check out these fancy new cones, er cookies, er cones...

M&M, Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, and wait for it... Pretzel...

Always pushing the ice cream envelope here at your favorite scoop shop...

Hope to see you soon. Happy school vacation to you and your little ones, enjoy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Why I love my job.

The order came in weeks ago, twelve chocolate-dipped strawberries for pickup at noon this past sunday. It sat for weeks, in the form of a small yellow carbon-copied slip, taped on the 'cake order wall' in front of the ice cream cake decorating table. Ice cream cake orders came and went, while this small order of strawberries stayed put, quietly watching over the daily goings-on on the cake operating table below. The person who ordered them never specifically said what they were for, and it really wasn't much of our business, but sure we were all a little curious. It wasn't Mother's Day or Valentine's Day, just a random sunday in early April. During those weeks it sat in wait, I occasionally glanced over at it, each time feeling a small hint of apprehension that when the time finally came, I'd forget to buy strawberries or to come in early to get them done for noon that day. Chocolate-dipped strawberries are really only good the day you make them, that's what makes them difficult to offer on a regular basis.

Well, I didn't forget to buy her strawberries, and both Mimi and I remembered to come in a little early to get them done this past sunday. The woman who ordered them arrived a little before noon, as we were just putting the finishing touches on her dozen dippped desserts. She didn't seem to mind waiting the few minutes for them to be done, a small price to pay for freshness.

I struggled a little with the price, knowing a buck a piece was probably low, but told Mimi to charge her that price anyway. Sure, I think we could have made a little more, but as my Dad always preached to me when I was starting, 'charge what you need to charge, don't get greedy.'

Mimi showed her the nicely arranged dozen in the box. Our customer smiled widely, settled up, and was on her way.

In most cases, that's usually that.

It just so happened that yesterday I took a break from the shop action to go for a little run on the other side of Mt. Tom, around that reservoir off of route 141. If you haven't been there, it really is a beautiful little loop for a walk or jog. Anyway, I had just finished my run and was sitting on the back of my truck. As I recovered my breath and rehydrated, a woman pulled up, got out of her car, and walked toward me and the trailhead. She looked only slightly familiar. I was in my running gear and sported a pair of dark sunglasses, seemingly unrecognizable to anyone, yet the next thing I heard was, 'Those strawberries were delicious!'

It was the chocolate-dipped strawberries woman.

She stopped briefly to say hello before her stroll around the reservoir. She continued, 'My partner and I got married on Sunday in our backyard. It was really, really nice. After the ceremony, we had champagne and your delicious chocolate strawberries. It was perfect. Thanks for making them for us. It was an unforgettable and special moment for us.'

It's stories like that that make it all worthwhile. and then some.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

ArtWalk Easthampton Tonight.

painting by Allison Hunt.

A quick little reminder, it's the 2nd Saturday of the month, which means ArtWalk time here in Easthampton. It goes 5 - 8 pm tonite, and as always, it's full of great local art to see. And free snacks.

Here at Mt. Tom's, it's a great group show:


Each artist was asked to create a 12” square oil or acrylic painting portraying a night scene. The resulting exhibit consists of subjects ranging from moonlit skies to bonfires to the summer front of a Cape Cod food stand. The artists included in this exhibition were part of Kat O’Connor’s Spring 2010 Thursday night oil painting class, held in Clinton, Massachusetts. This exhibit was created specifically for Mt. Tom’s Ice Cream in Easthampton, Massachusetts.

painting by Kat O'Connor.

Hope you can stop by. Old Town Hall and Nashawannuck Gallery next door are two other spots to not miss too.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Easter Paddle.

With the family far away and a late shop opening on account of Easter, I took the opportunity to dust off the kayak and go for a paddle. A couple friends and I put in at the bridge to the right of Acadia wildlife sanctuary. Thanks to the crazy rain we got last week, the paddling behind Acadia right now is simply tremendous. During 'normal times', this body of water can be pretty tough to get your kayak into. Last summer, I paddled underneath this bridge to do it...

The water is so high now, you can paddle right to route 10 going to Northampton. (Update: Just spoke with my kayaking buddies, and they tell me the water level is down nearly 3 feet already since Sunday!)

No parking here. Unless of course, you're driving a row boat. (click on any photo to enlarge).

Since it was Easter, I decided to have an Easter egg hunt. The Easter bunny was unable to hide eggs in this uncharted body of water, so it was actually an Easter box turtle hunt. Still fun but a little tougher, since they are a little shy and tend to jump back into the water when you get too close. And you can't really eat 'em after you're done. Good thing I brought a big bag of Jelly Bellies.

One fearless (or really lazy) one...

One of my buddies, at one with the leafless trees...

'Bare Reflections'...

Same image with a little photoshop artsiness...

Even got a couple little zen videos for you, compliments of my trusty new Canon Elph point and shoot with HD video... Hope you've been enjoying this little summer vacation in April. The shop has been booming, a nice early season boost, hopefully a sign that another great season is just around the corner!

And here's one more, almost like you were a fly on my kayak...

Enjoy this last summery day, and hope to see you tomorrow night at the Riverside Industries auction. We'll be scooping up plenty of ice cream for dessert. Hmm, what flavors to bring...