Hilltown Families


Connecticut River’s Anadromous Fish A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting both the Holyoke and Turners Falls’ anadromous fish recovery operations with a group of intrepid high schoolers (Anadromous fish are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean for most of their lives, and return to fresh water to spawn.). Holyoke has a fish elevator, which is somewhat unique, and Turners Falls has a fish ladder; both are… Read More

Heart of the Biome: Rivers A few days ago I was walking along the Connecticut River, at the Bashan in Hatfield (the green space off “Bashin Rd.” on this map), and the mist from the low-belly clouds touched its soft, purling surface—connecting the earth and the heavens. I was alone; there were no motor boats (this river is often a highway) and—dripping like the leaves—I absorbed serene, wonderful moments of simple raccoon… Read More

Get Into the Flow Like a Mayfly “Rivers can take this—don’t worry!” said Jason Johnson, who works with Masswildlife’s Caleb Slater to stock our streams with trout and salmon, after hearing me whine about the drought. “Most droughts occur in late summer. The fact that this one is happening as the leaves come out…” I’d worried. “The tree species that are native to our area can handle this. It happened a few… Read More

I Like Winter I was supposed to write about ice. I wanted to take you away from the CT river, up into the higher elevations, where the crystal trickles are, and where on steep slopes ice fountains rise below dripping cliff edge. When things really get icy, remaining springs of fresh water attract forest creatures. I wanted to help you find one, and urge you to look for tracks and poops. Wintertime… Read More

The Heart of Our River The Connecticut River is ours, right? It doesn’t really matter if you live in the Pioneer Valley or the Hilltowns of Western MA: when you drive I-91 to invade, or retreat from, the DC-to-Boston sprawl it roils conspicuously beneath bridges or courses by your side—the broad, slow, murmuring River. As you’re chased over the Cooli Bridge by a wolfpack of Volvos, it flashes in the sun like… Read More

The Ripple We who live in and around the Nonotuck biome (also called the “Happy Valley”) don’t have much of the lore, and language, of rivers. The Pocumtuck people who lived here before 1650, had over 10,000 years worth of stories that voiced the value(s) of rivers. Colonists did not record any of them except for one, unfortunately; thus the giant blank and crypt-like silence where stories should be. The Pocumtuck had… Read More

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