Yesterday I went with my friend Jeff Ziff , the Cray Soda heir and renowned blues videographer, to check out the new business he and his wife Sue opened in Palmer a few weeks ago. We met in Hamp and stopped first at Northampton Coffee.
The lady behind the counter there is a real wizard of pouring cream on the various coffee concoctions, making them look like pictures. Here is a fern embedded in a heart.
No extra charge for the edible art. As we passed the "oxbow" section of the Connecticut River, I asked Jeff to stop so that I could photograph something. Many times on the Holyoke bus I have spotted this rusty old sign and I always wanted to check it out. It is located on the side of this leaning shed.
It is a beautiful location right by the water, where swans sometimes go and the trees are really friendly.
This is the sign. It is badly deteriorated but you can still see that it once advertised Pepsi. Even more interesting is the upper advertisement for something called Nu-Grape.
Jeff is an expert on soda memoriabilia and said the sign dates back to the 1930's. Unfortunately at the rate it is rusting it will soon be no more. Eventually we arrived in Palmer where we visited Jeff's Trinkets and Treasures Shop.
It is full of everything its name implies. Check it out for yourself on Rte 20 someday - it's a nice ride to get there too.
While in Palmer we figured we may as well check out their historic and recently restored train station.
The inside has been made into a beautiful new restaurant. When you go shopping for antiques at Jeff's place be sure to make plans to have lunch at the train station after.
Since we were in the area we decided to take a look at Monson's Conant Brook Dam, which we had heard was really scenic. On the way there we passed the Quaboag Riders, where my friend Bodie Chesbro used to go.
We decided to stop in and watch the kids zoom around the track for a while.
Driving through Monson we came upon this ancient building by Lynch Street. No clue as to when it was built, but this is a true New England Classic.
Also intriguing was this thick coil of searope on the old handmade stone wall in front of the house. Rope like this was probably used for a big boat on the Cape.
Finally we arrived at the dam, which was just as beautiful as advertised.
The all-knowing Wikipedia describes the dam thusly:
The Conant Brook Dam is located on Conant Brook in Monson, Massachusetts, about 7.4 miles (11.9 km) upstream from the confluence of Conant Brook and the Quaboag River. It is approximately 15 miles (24 km) east of Springfield, Massachusetts.
Designed and constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, this dam substantially reduces flooding along the Quaboag, Chicopee, and Connecticut rivers. Construction of the project began in 1964 with completion in 1966 at a cost of US$2,950,530.
The Conant Brook Dam is located within the Chicopee River watershed and is part of the Connecticut River basin. Access to the site is available from State Route 32 and State Route 19.
The water level however was unusually low. Frankly we've had more cold than snow this year, and the Conant Brook is running quite narrowly.
In the areas meant to handle overflows it is bone dry.
Later we went to a ghostly Monson churchyard.
There I discoverd the highlight of the trip - The first flower of Spring.
The Music Section
This is the best mix of music and politics I've seen a while.