Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday through Cyber Monday SALE at Head in the Clouds Amherst

Sure, the weather is lovely for shopping, but we have an even better idea. First, order your Head in the Clouds Amherst Wall Calendar online HERE, ditch the box stores, and instead take to the Robert Frost Trail for a serene/invigorating weekend. And to give you just a little taste of "Black Friday," we are discounting online orders now through Cyber Monday by 20%, to $11.20 per calendar. We've only got about 40 calendars left in stock, so don't delay!

I'm headed off to Puffer's right now - where will you be spending your day?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

2016 Head in the Clouds Amherst Wall Calendar - Now Available!

(Click on photo to enlarge)
Actual calendar photos and daily entries are high resolution, 
much sharper than the images shown here
If you are looking for a unique Amherst gift that will keep giving all year round, look no further than our new Head in the Clouds Amherst 2016 Wall Calendar. This year's calendar features beautiful, seasonal nature photos taken in Amherst by twelve different photographers, both professional and amateur (scroll down this page for the names of our photographers). Each photo includes location captions, and the daily entries highlight over 50 major weather events that occurred in Amherst and New England between 1660 and 2015. Printed on high quality, glossy paper, this one-of-a-kind calendar also notes holidays, as well as astronomical events visible from Amherst with the naked eye - full moon, new moon, meteor showers, and more. 

This is that perfect gift for Amherst residents and tourists, expatriates, college students here or away, writers and poets, and nature lovers. This calendar will have them (and you) falling in love with Amherst month after month. Full size when open is 17" high and 11" wide. 

Price is $14.00 per calendar purchased through this website (slightly higher at local stores)20% DISCOUNT, NOW THROUGH CYBER MONDAY (11/30/2015) - PRICE PER CALENDAR IS $11.20!


Our can also buy our calendar at Amherst Books or Hastings. Amherst Books is located at the center of downtown Amherst at 8 Main Street. Hastings is also downtown, at 45 South Pleasant Street on the Common.  

For questions or special requests (including arranging for pick up in Amherst), please mail Sharon at CloudsAmherst[@]gmail[.]com. 
The [at] and [dot] are done to keep email addresses from being collected by spammers and harvesting robots. You just have to replace them for [@] and [.] when you write your e-mail.

Gull Pond ~ Old Farm Road, Amherst ~ Photo by Amy Bush
Woman on Puffer's Pond ~ North Amherst ~ Photo by Joshua Wolfsun
Sure sign of spring ~ North Amherst ~ Photo by Sharon Vardatira
After the Storm ~ North Amherst, looking towards UMass ~ Photo by Meg Rosa
Berries Ripening at Bramble Hill Farm ~ Amherst ~ Photo by Margaret Wright
Visit the golf course for everyone ~ Cherry Hill Golf Course, North Amherst
Photo by Jill Paul
Evening Mist ~ North Amherst ~ Photo by Ryan Willey
Mount Pollux in South Amherst, with Mount Norwottuck and the
Holyoke Range in the distance
Photo by John M. Cushing Jr.
Libraries - full of unexpected treasures ~ Jones Library Garden, Amherst
Photo by Marian Wolfsun
Perfect Reflections ~ Between Fort River and the Robert Frost Trail, Amherst
Photo by Ben Harper

Falling Down ~ North East Street, Amherst ~ Photo by Baer Tierkel

Sunset Dog ~ Wentworth Farm Conservation Area, Amherst ~ Photo by Mindy Domb

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cool, crisp day, freeze at night

Random tree by the side of the road, Easthampton MA
Photo by S. Vardatira, 10/17/2015
What a beautiful, cool, crisp fall day here in the Valley. Cold night, though - if you haven't heard already (or felt it in the air), there's a freeze warning in effect overnight. So, um, too late for harvesting now....

Friday, October 9, 2015

Cumulus to the Rescue!

Cumulus Clouds (among others) over Hadley, MA
Photo by S. Vardatira
"The weather threatened to ruin the day: there was a completely clear blue sky throughout the morning. Luckily some fair-weather Cumulus came to the rescue and arrived just as we were breaking for lunch."  
From a recap of the 10th Annual Cloud Appreciation Society International Gathering in the UK on September 26. (Cloud Appreciation Society October 2015 e-newsletter)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lunar Eclipse Still in Progress!

About half an hour from totality
9:45 pm, 9/27/2015
Photo by S. Vardatira
Near totality - 10:13 pm, 9/27/2015
Photo by S. Vardatira

Yes, totality just passed, but the stars are still shining (click on the lower photo to see the stars even better). You still have another hour (give or take) to watch the moon come back to its full brilliance. And as you watch, consider for a moment that what you are seeing is essentially the Earth's shadow passing across the surface of the moon. Awesome is the only word for it.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse this Sunday evening, 9/27

This Sunday evening, 9/27, stargazers will see a rare supermoon lunar eclipse. If you miss it, the next one isn't until 2033! What makes this event so special?

If this video doesn't play for you, you can find it on YouTube here.

Tips on Submitting Photos for the 2016 Head in the Clouds Wall Calendar

Cover of the 2015 Calendar

The response to our call for photos has been incredible - it's a thrill to open each email and be treated to such a wealth of beautiful Amherst scenes. This year's calendar is going to be stunning!
In the meantime, here are some tips for anyone still wanting to submit photos: 
  1. Among our more than 40 submissions so far, we only have a few stand out spring and winter scenes.
  2. People and pets in the photo are fine as long as the photo isn't all about the people or pets (we're not looking for portraits or close ups of groups of people, in other words) - the main subject needs to be the setting around the people or pets.
  3. Extreme close-ups, while often beautiful, don't necessarily convey a sense of place. For example, a photo of a lilac bud taken at Lilac Land doesn't say "Amherst" (it could have been taken anywhere). Better to pull back even a little on that shot to, for example, show lilac branches blooming against the hill beyond.
Ideally, viewers will see and feel "Amherst" in the photos. It's not necessary that the places featured be recognizable, but the photos should convey a feel for the area, the nature around us, the sky, and, yes, sometimes those locations anyone passing through might recognize or feel drawn to visit.

Deadline for submissions is still October 1 - can't wait to see what you have. Full instructions on submitting photos can be found here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sunset tonight over Simple Gifts Farm

Sunset over Simple Gifts Farm, Amherst MA - 9-22-2015
Photo by S. Vardatira
Sunset, this evening, from Simple Gifts Farm. (And you've probably already seen many, many variations on this theme in the past few hours.) Lovely night. 

Good Yom Tov for those observing.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Seeking Photos for the 2016 Head in the Clouds Amherst Calendar!

Your photo could be featured (kind of like this) in our upcoming 2016 calendar!


Head in the Clouds Amherst is seeking photo submissions for our 2016 calendar.  That’s right, we’re changing it up this year to feature monthly photos by 12 different people!

The deadline to submit is October 1, 2015. Submissions can be emailed or uploaded via Google Drive to Please enter "HITC Calendar Photo Submissions" in the subject line.

Along with your photo(s), please include: a caption or title; who is in the photo (unless it's a crowd scene or from a distance), where it was taken, the photographer's name, and your contact information

All submissions must have been taken in Amherst or feature a scenic view of Amherst. And photos must also depict scenes that evoke the seasons and the intersection of life and weather.  In addition, if your photo captures one or more of these themes it will get special consideration:
  • Amherst landmarks (popular gathering sites, university/colleges, museums, etc.)
  • Amherst annual events and happenings 
  • Clouds formations and weather phenomena (over or around Amherst)

You can see last year’s calendar, here. But keep in mind that, with 12 different photographers instead of one, we would expect this year’s calendar to show a wider variation in styles and subject matter. We are open to professionals and amateurs, color, and black and white. And we’re also counting on friends of Head in the Clouds re-submitting photos you’ve already sent to us over the year. You can submit as many photos as you like.

If your photo is selected for the 2016 calendar, you will receive a free calendar and reduced rates on any additional calendars you opt to purchase. And keep in mind that we will not consider photos that are low resolution, low quality, or that contain inappropriate material.

So what are you waiting for??? Start flipping through your photo collection – or grab your camera and make some new memories. We can’t wait to see what you’ve got!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Hints of fall and a return to summer

Sundown on the Connecticut River, August 2015
Photo by S. Vardatira
The question of the hour is just how much fall are we going to get anyway. Could we be living the fall version of the one-day spring? Enjoy tonight’s cool evening while you can – the rest of the week will see a return of summer-like conditions as high pressure builds in and pushes temps up to the mid-80s, well above average for the week ahead. And there’s no rain in the forecast until maybe Saturday night (and that’s iffy). Somewhat cooler temps arrive on Sunday, which means they drop into the mid-70s instead of the mid-80s. Not exactly frosty and cool. And so goes our summer-like, above-average September. For those of you who crave the warmer temps, you’re in luck. For the rest of us, well, winter is coming. Eventually.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ball lightning observed in Hadley last night

Note: this photo of ball lightning was taken by UK scientists -
it was NOT taken in Hadley last night (it's actually incredibly
challenging to photograph ball lightning)
I'm posting this observation, provided by Paula, a friend of Head in the Clouds Amherst, of what sounds for all the world like an electrical phenomenon known as "ball lightning." She saw this last night, around 7:15, during that intense thunderstorm that came through the area. I wonder if anyone else saw this? Here's what Paula observed:
There was lightning, yes.... It looked like a cloud that morphed into a white ball, then exploded and slowly broke into many pieces before it disappeared. We were on North Maple near the Hadley Farm, and stopped along the road to watch the storm in the east. Other cars stopped, too. Some took pictures. The dark grey clouds moved fast, while wispy fingers dipped down toward the ground. I wanted to see if one of those fingers would rotate into a funnel cloud. It didn't. The finger receded, then a bright white ball glowed in the air below, until it burst apart into many pieces. Quite a sight, whatever it was.
Read more about ball lightning here.

Thanks, Paula, for that incredibly clear and fascinating description!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Even as summer lingers on, a change is coming

No, summer won't be around forever
Connecticut River - Photo by S. Vardatira
As we look forward to another week of oddly hot, near record-breaking temperatures hovering near or above 90 through Thursday, it may be hard to grasp that summer will ever end. But a change is coming - on Friday, temps drop back into the 70's where they remain through at least Tuesday. Not exactly a cold snap (night temps only get to the mid-50s), but much more seasonable days are ahead.

Monday, August 17, 2015

El Niño in Southern New England

This map shows the most commonly experienced impacts related to
El Niño during the period December to February
Images courtesy of the NWS/NCEP Climate Prediction Center.)

Don't freak out yet about El Niño, New Englanders, regardless of what the Farmer's Almanac has to say about our upcoming "worse-than-normal" winter. IF (and this is an important IF) the predicted El Niño comes to pass, it's more likely to mean a milder and drier winter for Southern New England, not a more severe winter. Of course, that's assuming the El Niño acts like a typical El Niño and doesn't do something off the charts bizarre.

So stay calm, keep breathing.

If you don't want a repeat of last winter, El Niño could be a good thing (around here anyway). Of course, no one knows for sure what a "monster" El Niño could mean for our region ultimately. But we'll know soon enough. For now, enjoy these dog days of August.

Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Time to Vote (for Head in the Clouds Amherst)

I've entered a couple of photos in the Get the Picture! A Valley Photo Contest, and now just need people to vote for them. You've seen both of them here in recent weeks, and if you're in doubt, you will know it's a Head in the Clouds photo because the photographer is listed as HITClouds (Head in the Clouds). You can vote everyday between now and August 30. Thanks in advance for your support!

Go here to vote: Photo 1

And here:           Photo 2