Monthly Archives: November 2011

Back to the Gorge

We had so much fun a few weeks ago at the Chesterfield Gorge, that when the weather turned unseasonably beautiful this weekend, we decided to go back.  This time, with bikes.  When we were hiking around last time, we wondered how far the road went along with riverbank.  I googled before we set out, but couldn’t find a map or much information at all, really.  So, we went exploring.

It turned out to be a fantastically beautiful ride.  It is technically difficult.  The terrain is hilly.  There are some large boulders embedded in the trail.  There are also loose rocks.  And then there are some stretches that are sandy.  But the kids did well with it – no one fell of their bike, and Aaron held on for dear life in the trailer.  The trail goes right along the banks of the Westfield river, and there are several waterfalls coming down the hill, under the trail, and out into the river.  There are also a series of cliffs that you ride right through.  Just beautiful.

Here is my crazy family atop the cliff.  I didn’t want to go up, so I watched from the trail.

We found a spot where we could scramble down the riverbank to a sunny, flat area for our picnic snack, or snacnic, as we call it.  The water was obviously very cold, but we thought how nice this would be on a hot summer day.

We ended up riding about 2 miles in and 2 miles back.  One of the best parts of the trip for me was listening to Aaron pretend the trailer was his pirate ship.  As I was chugging up the hills, he was brandishing his sword, yelling, “Ahoy, mateys!” “You landlubbers!” “Now you have to walk the plank!”  We passed a few hikers who got quite a kick out of our little pirate.

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Fall Bounty

I know I’ve posted about our farm share before.  But here I am again.  At the end of the season, our farm offers a “bulk farm share.”  It’s extra – not included in the regular farm share, and they time the pick-up to coincide with Thanksgiving so that local bakers can offer yummy Thanksgiving treats at the same time.

Last night, I battled rush-hour to make it to the farm before they closed at 6.  When I arrived, it was pitch black, so I had to stumble through the field to get over to the barn.  When I got inside, I stood staring at the share board, which tells you how much of what item you can take.  I just didn’t get it.  It was SO MUCH FOOD.  I thought, this must be a mistake.  Really?  I can take all of that?  I must have looked shocked and confused, because one of the employees came over to see if I needed assistance.  She said that they are never sure how much is going to be left in the fields at the end of the growing season, and this year there was a lot.  So this is what we got:

I could hardly carry it all back to the car.  In the dark.  I was also burdened with two pies for Thanksgiving – a gluten-free pumpkin pie (the last one!), and a take-and-bake apple.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love being part of a farm share.  Whoever thought of the brilliant idea of having the community support the farm… hats off to you.  Well done.

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Visiting the Gorge

There are so many interesting places to visit in our area, we always seem to be discovering a new “favorite spot.”  Last weekend we visited the Chesterfield Gorge.  It’s about a half hour’s drive from here.  The Westfield river flows through a rocky canyon here, and it’s gorgeous:

There is a path along the edge of the precipice (with a guardrail!), so we hiked along that, found a nicely secluded picnic table for a picnic lunch, and climbed around on the rocks.

There are some interesting historical elements to the gorge.  The Albany/Boston post road used to go through here, and you can still see the base of the bridge that crossed the Westfield River.  Take a look at the rocks underneath the bridge foundation – you can see how they have been worn down by the water over the years:

We also hiked down the hill toward the water, and then noticed that there were some very old cars that had been pushed over the top of the hill.  It was like a car graveyard from the 50s.  We scrambled up the hill toward them to get a closer look.  Nate and I thought it was really cool, but the kids were oddly creeped-out by the cars.  I took lots of pictures:

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Life Without Power

Our area was hit by a freak snowstorm last weekend, and the repercussions are still being felt throughout the region.  At our house, we lost power Saturday night at 8:30 as we were scooping out pumpkins for kids to carve at Lydia’s 7th birthday party planned for Sunday.  At first, it was fun.  We lit candles and kept scooping.  It quickly got un-fun, as the nighttime temperatures dropped into the teens, and the outage kept going, and going.  We eventually got power back on Monday at 7:30 – that’s 47 very long hours with no light, no heat, and no hot water.  I shouldn’t complain quite so much, because there are STILL people without power.

What really sucks about losing power:

1. It’s cold.  The house slowly got colder and colder, and the fireplace only heats the area right around the fireplace.  We spent a lot of time there.  The house made it down to 53 degrees at its coldest.

2. The freezer unfroze, and the fridge ended up warmer than the rest of the house.  We put the milk and other spoilables onto the screened porch, and managed to save the milk and cheese, but all the meat products had to be tossed, and we ate things from the freezer as they thawed.

3.  Not having light is a major bummer.  Especially at this time of year.  We made sure to eat dinner well before dark so that we could see to clean up.  We found the kids’ camping flashlights so that they would have a little light in their rooms as bedtime.

4.  It’s hard to throw a good birthday party without the ability to bake a birthday cake.  That’s right – Lydia had no birthday cake at her birthday party.  I had planned to bake Sunday morning before the party, and didn’t think I could figure out how to bake a cake on the grill.  So, we stuck a candle on a cookie, and voila!  Happy birthday, dear Lydia!  She had fun regardless, and it’s certainly a birthday she’ll never forget.

What was kind of nice about losing power:

1. We got to know our fireplace a little better.  We’ve never been fond of it – it has a really old insert which makes the firebox really small, and we were never quite sure how to work the handle to open or close the flue.  We hadn’t even used it in maybe 5 years.  We had no wood, but received generous donations from Grandma and from our lovely next door neighbors.  Long story short, we figured out the fireplace once and for all, and it worked enough to give us somewhere to sit and keep warm before bed.

2. No screens!  No TV, no computer, even the iPods ran out of power.  What did we do?  We played games, we built block towers, we did jigsaw puzzles.  When it got dark in the evening, we all sat together in front of the fire and (gasp!) talked!  We told stories – each kid heard the story of the day they were born, and we told the story of how Nate and I met and fell in love.  It was a really lovely, quiet time.

3. We developed a new appreciation for the miracle of electricity.  This situation sparked a lot of conversations about what life was like in “the olden days.”  And how ill-suited our society is for that kind of living these days.  When the power came back on, we were getting ready for bed, stumbling around with our flashlights.  It was such a shock when the lights came on that we didn’t immediately understand what had just happened.  We looked at each other in shock for a good two or three seconds before we all squealed with delight and started jumping up and down in each others arms.

… and then we started the laundry.  The end.

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