Adventures in flora, fauna, food, and the great unknown.

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There once was a thing called blog

It’s been a while—far too long, really—but 2017 has been remarkably draining for a great many reasons (some good, some bad), and most days it’s been all I could do to keep my life at least vaguely in order; writing posts and editing photos for a mostly unread blog has just not been high on my list of things to accomplish. But as the cold air settles in and I surround myself in hand-knit woolen goodness, a faint creativity begins to sparkle in the shadows, and I find myself wanting to stretch those writing muscles again. I aim to do better in 2018 and beyond, and I hope you’ll join me.


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Last year, we missed the prime of summer in the Pioneer Valley, instead enjoying the beauty of Ireland. (Amazingly, I have still not finished editing all of the photos from that trip, although I’m nearly finished.) This year, we stayed put—and folks, it was gorgeous.


As usual, we spent a fair bit of time hiking around Mount Toby—a favorite with us because it’s virtually in our backyard. It’s been nice to visit repeatedly, to gain a certain familiarity with the trails there, so that individual rocks and trees start to feel familiar, making the forest feel like an extension of our own home.


I think our favorite discovery was Cranberry Pond, a lovely little kettle pond that we’d seen on the trail map but had always just hiked past on our way to other areas of the reservation. In addition to the numerous sunning turtles and swimming fish, we found ample evidence of beaver excavation (although, alas, no beavers) and witnessed a stunning aerial display from a red-winged blackbird. It’s a lovely little spot in the early summer, and I’m sure it’s equally stunning in other seasons.

Cranberry Pond panorama

I went on adventure of a very different nature later in the summer. I’m lucky enough to live near what has to be one of the better yarn stores in the world, Webs, and in August I took a class there in which I learned how to spin on a drop spindle. Our instructor, Ashley Flagg, was fantastic (and I think something of a kindred spirit, as wool-people often are)—and although I still have a long way to go, I was really pleased with my first (and second!) full skein of yarn. (It is yearning to become a squishy cowl, but the twins need to become triplets before this dream can be realized.)

First skein of yarn

I also managed to finish my second sweater (pattern here). It was slow going for a while, as the fabric was extremely stiff and hurt my hands, but the end result is just so warm and cozy—perfect for crisp autumn days of apple-picking—and I’ve been wearing it nearly constantly ever since the weather started to turn cool.


One of the loveliest things about the valley is the morning fog—sometimes so thick that the rising sun could be mistaken for the moon. Such a view can definitely make training runs a little less onerous on brisk mornings, when it would be so much easier to hide in bed under the warmth of the covers (even when there are already other sources of motivation).

Valley fog, morning

Even though autumn is once again upon us, there is still green to be found in small corners.


But in the wider world, the hue of the landscape is clearly undergoing its annual transformation.

View from Mount Toby

Somehow, my blog posts always seem to be punctuated with seasonal changes—probably because I am so lax in my writing. But I am fortunate enough to be going to Rhinebeck, New York, next weekend for the annual Sheep and Wool Festival, so with any luck I will have tons of photographs of sweet-eyed woolly creatures to show off very soon.

View from Mount Toby

Autumn in New England just cannot be beat. And so much the better when one gets to spend it warmed by hand-knit woolens.

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The end of winter

Officially, it’s spring—but I still find my thoughts on the winter. It’s not entirely surprising… There’s still snow on the ground. A slushy rain fell this evening while I was walking my favorite canine companion. And our heat is (mostly) still on.

But there’s another reason, too. On February 21, I had the distinct pleasure of making my way to the Berkshires, putting on a pair of boots and skis, grabbing some poles, and getting out on the snow for the first time in ages. I had attempted this sort of activity a few times in my early post-college years, albeit on a snowboard instead of skis. I can’t say that those experiences went well; in fact, I was pretty miserable both times, got badly bruised, and haven’t exactly been pining for it since.


Speaking of pines…

But this time was different. At first, I had some trouble figuring out where my skis ended and began, but by the end of my lesson (which M was gracious enough to join me for), I was getting down the hill pretty well, making decent turns. I fell only once—in my first attempt to board the magic carpet to get back up the hill. I became infatuated with the sound and feeling of the skis’ edge against the snow, growing more sure of myself with each run. Every single time down was a blast. I couldn’t get enough.

I never did get around to riding the lift and skiing down a real trail; by the time I felt confident enough to make the attempt, our day was near its end, and I didn’t want to risk ending the trip on a bad note. Instead, I took a few more runs down the little hill before returning to the lodge with a grin on my face, my heart bursting with happiness.


And check out that hand-knit hat!

We rounded out the day with a Guinness in the lounge before heading home. More snow was falling, and I was walking on air. A girl could get used to this. Too bad it’s spring.