Friday, April 24, 2015

Bring back spring!

Quabbin Cumulus - 4/23/2015
Quabbin Reservoir - Photo by S. Vardatira
Okay, enough of this. I nearly froze my fingers off at Quabbin yesterday. From inside, it looked like a beautiful sunny morning, but the wind was whipping off the water, sending the temps (with wind chill) below 32 F. What was I thinking to pack my gloves away for the winter?!

The cold continues today, with slightly diminished winds.

Bring back spring!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Salamanders Crossing !

Just about perfect weather out there tonight for the salamanders to make their crossing. Rainy, cool 50 degree spring night. About an hour ago, I decided to trek out into the darkness to see if my hunch about the weather might be right, To my delight, yes, indeed, the salamanders are crossing. More to tell in tomorrow's blog post, but for now a few pics - if you go out, however, watch out for foggy patches. As dense as I've ever seen it. 

Slow down to a crawl and hope-there's-a-line-down-the-middle-of-the-road kind of fog.






And in the meantime, enjoy this Boston.com article that came out a few weeks ago about Amherst's very own Salamander Crossing, and the very thing that was taking place tonight.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mystery photo - do you know what this is?

What is this? (Photo taken 3/21/2015)
Photo by S. Vardatira
Do you know what this is? Here are your clues:
  1. I took the picture yesterday.
  2. I wasn't in Amherst at the time.
  3. But I was within driving distance. 
  4. Think spring!
Yup, that's all you get. And major added props to anyone who knows not only what this is but where this is as well.

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Next day:

We've had a run of comments on this on our Facebook Page - thought I would share them here so our blog readers could have some fun. And the solution is at the very bottom. :)

  • Leslie likes this.
  • Stephanie - My guess is honey at Warm Colors Apiary.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 15 hours ago
  • Head in the Clouds Amherst Nope - but good guess! 
    Like · Reply · 15 hours ago
  • Dana - Maple syrup. Tis the season!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 15 hours ago
  • Head in the Clouds Amherst Right you are Dana - but now for the hard part. Why all the colors and shelves? And just to be clear, you're not looking at different grades of syrup - exactly. (There's more to it than that.)
    Like · Reply · 15 hours ago · Edited
  • Stephanie - Interesting! I had decided against syrup, because of all the really light ones. Looking forward to learning more!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 14 hours ago
  • Dana - Oh dear, if it's not grade I'm at a loss. Do tell! And I'm not sure where. Embarrassed to say that while sugar shacks are my very favorite place to be early spring weekends, I've yet to get there this year.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 14 hours ago
  • Head in the Clouds Amherst I'll give the answer tomorrow (hopefully others will keep guessing), but as for where, check out Davenport Maple Farm in Shelburne (they are on Facebook). I was there for the first time this weekend and can't believe I've been here for 20 years and just discovered them. Absolutely the nicest, friendliest, lovely people (four generation family run), and the views are spectacular. Restaurant, sugar house, and be sure to check out their Finnish pancakes. Awesome. They are open for two more weekends - do not miss this!
    Like · Reply · 1 · 12 hours ago
  • Head in the Clouds Amherst One more clue. If you examine the picture carefully (make it full screen), you will see a notation on the shelves. That may help.
  • Lynn - I know! But I've been there.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 11 hours ago
  • Leslie - I know, too. I was there with LL&A. Sweet!!!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 11 hours ago
  • Leslie - Davenport's is my hands-down favorite sugar house. And what a view from up there!!!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 11 hours ago
  • Tim - he years are marked...I see someone had a problem with 2013 & 2014....time warp..shelves only hold 10 years?
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 2 hours ago
  • Sophie - it looks like they have created a graph , the past ten years by week with some gaps marking weeks that there was no run and length of seasons. Am I right?
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · about an hour ago
  • Head in the Clouds Amherst Good guessing Sophie! So close. Now here's the answer everyone (and some of you were really close, and some holding back, I know). Each shelf does represent a year - and each jar on that shelf represents a syrup sample for each sap "boil" or run during the season that year. The sap, and hence syrup, generally darkens over a season, which does correlate loosely to grades. But as you can see, there are many more shades here than grades, and the syrup color is not a straight line, light to dark. Also, while a full shelf tends to correlate to a good year, it could also be that a year with a longer sap run (with no gaps in the flow of sap) means fewer stops and starts and thus fewer bottles on the shelf. And just to be clear, prolonged periods of either below freezing temperatures or days without freezing nights will stop the sap flow. As a result, sugarhouses often start and stop boiling at different times due to local climatological factors. Prolonged warm spells or cold snaps during the season may halt sap flow for several days, and it may start again when conditions are favorable. As a result, 24 hour work days are often interspersed with two, three or even more days of relative inactivity. This gives the sugarmaker a chance to recover lost sleep, make repairs, clean equipment, and get ready for the next sap "run" or boil. And at Davenport Maple Farm, each time they boil, they collect a sample and put it on that year's shelf. And voila - a beautiful natural tableau of maple colors!