Hilltown Families


Kids ages 13yo and older interested in culinary arts and local food are invited to bake their favorite fruit pie using local ingredients to submit to the Tuesday Market annual Pie Contest happening on Tuesday, September 10th…

What’s your “Only in Northampton” notable? This month in Mash Notes, Sarah shares her 10yo sons most recent notable, “Only in Northampton do you give directions out for the weaving conference.” Share yours too in a new “Only in Northampton” online social forum…

Note 27, Tasty Top in Easthampton While I have never made an exhaustive search nor done a scientific study, I am pretty confident that the following statement holds true: Tasty Top in Easthampton has the best soft serve ice cream in the Pioneer Valley. Please comment below if you disagree with the better option—and a description of why it’s better. In my humble opinion, Tasty Top doesn’t taste plastic-y or fake or… Read More

Note 26, Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club I got an inkling that running in some organized fashion could be fun for kids when my third grader decided it would be cool to do the run portion of Safe Passage’s Hot Chocolate event. There’s a two-mile walk we’d done numerous times and a 5K run. We ran. Well, we jogged and walked. We loved it. ❥ The Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club knew about this… Read More

Note 23, History For an upcoming issue of Preview Massachusetts Magazine, I was in Northampton interviewing a chef and a restaurant owner this week. It’s a space he relatively recently took over and we were recalling together what it had been in its last incarnation. That evening, my husband and I strained to recall what it had been before that. We couldn’t remember. I arrived in the Valley in 1981 as a… Read More

Note 22,  Snow Days I am writing this just before the snow is about to do what it does. A few flakes have begun to drift down crookedly, almost as if in a dream state. The promise: a huge, blizzard of ’78-style dump. I LOVED the blizzard of ’78, which I spent traipsing through Center City Philadelphia. Cars were stranded and heaped with mounds of snow. My friend lived downtown (as opposed… Read More

Mash Note No. 21: On Great Halls and Great Spaces The day after Christmas, my daughter Saskia and I took the grandparents to the Eric Carle Museum. For the most part, we followed Saskia’s lead: a juice box and pretzel snack in the cafeteria, a book perusal session in the library, and a puppet show. In turn, she gave us a few minutes in the galleries—and about five minutes longer than she… Read More

Note 20, Valley Gives Day I love this about the little Valley I call home: people care about the larger world and they care about this community. I think volunteerism is something that’s a community value. To wit, my daughter’s preschool—not just the parents—are involved in community service activities. The message, as I understand it, to help others is part of life. Period. The folks at the Community Foundation apparently think the… Read More

To Buy Local is to Buy Well and Eat Well, Too By the time this goes to press, the weekend of open studios in Florence’s gigantic Arts and Industries building will be over. Mark your calendar for next year, though. But don’t despair. There are some buy local opportunities around these parts that really make winter more delightful (and if you know me, you know I don’t find winter all that delightful,… Read More

Note 18, Community Recently, a friend of my third boy had a medical emergency. This is a lifelong buddy, who lives a hop, skip, one street crossed and a jump away so that play can flow like a helix from one abode to the other and back again. During the crisis, friends began to rally. First, there were a couple of phone calls, then a flurry of emails. Little surprises for the… Read More

Note 16, Flowers It hit me yesterday at the Tuesday Market how much the flowers around here mean to me. I’m not a big bouquet person (although, as you read on, ask yourself why didn’t she buy some of these flowers she fell in love with?). I enjoy when we have flowers on the table, but then, they wilt and droop and dry up and eventually we toss ‘em and I think… Read More

Note 15, Pick-Your-Own Spots I wrote a little post for Momfilter, (fun site—I especially adore the pretty pictures!) about the joys of pick-your-own. For people who live in a city, I realize that the chance to go berry or apple picking—or even pluck a few cherry tomatoes from an outdoor plant, potted or in a garden plot—requires some planning (vacation activity, anyone?). And so writing that post made me think about another… Read More

Note 14, There Aren’t Many Signs The other night at a potluck for the preschool class, a few people discussed the overwhelming number of billboards in Houston, Texas. One said, “There were so many signs there, I just felt bombarded.” She added, “Here, no billboards.” Another person added, “In fact, here, there aren’t even any signs. People say things like you’ll find that street because it’s one after where the old Texaco… Read More

Note 12, There’s No Place Like Home The twelfth Mash Note to Paradise! Really? Over this past year in these notes I’ve loved our bike paths and our college town-y-ness, our farms and our farmers’ markets, our give back mentality and our reverence for all sorts of families and our indie vibes. Much as I don’t love winter, I even embrace the weather. If you were to read these Mash Note to Paradise… Read More

Note 11, Openness About Gender, Family & Love Although Northampton Pride is a ways away, there’s an admirable flexibility about how we think of families and love and gender and identity in these parts that I can’t take for granted. Every single time my preschooler is playing family and says something like, “I’ll be the mom. And you can be the mom,” I know I should be counting lucky stars. Overheard: one… Read More

Note 9, There Are No Office Buildings ❥ At some point during his early elementary years, Lucien, my second boy, wanted to visit an office. You know, a real office, the kind of place that has an elevator and desks and chairs that spin and maybe free pens or little bowls of candy. Offices, like that, in big buildings, places where people—not just one or two, but the people—dress up for work,… Read More

Note 8, Friends Who Also Love Paradise Amongst the nifty things about living in a nifty place is this one: you are not alone in your love of the place and its people. No question that when I first saw the slick jewel tones on the trees (it was pouring) during my first visit to Hampshire College, I thought this was a very pretty place. I don’t remember much more than that…. Read More

Note 7, Buying Local, Fairs, Markets, Stores ❥ By the time this goes up, the fall’s Twist Fair will have taken place. Don’t worry, though, you can still buy local crafts. If it seems like this is a valley teeming with artisans (okay, and therapists and cafés), I do believe it’s been proven true in the census or something, that our general lofty crafty factor is not just a figment of your… Read More

Note 5, Weather ❥ I wrote myself a note about the next Mash Note a few weeks ago. I put down one word: weather. My thought process went I should write about my reverence for the seasons while the weather’s still nice. Because frankly, I can’t really abide by winter, since I don’t enjoy feeling cold. And still… Having lived around here for the bulk of 30 years (!) I realize that… Read More

Note 3: Summer Camps ‘Round the Valley I can most certainly argue that one of the best things summer has to offer both kids and adults is time to do nothing much at all (even get, gasp, bored). Without a smidgen of contradiction, I can also argue in favor of the summer camp experience. Around here, there are some gems. Around now—July, in its ripe berry fullness—I am feeling the love for… Read More

Note 1, Tuesday Market Here’s my one-time awkward greeting: I’m a local writer (and blogger) and community-minded do-gooder besotted by so many things about this place I call home. For Hilltown Families, I’ll write a monthly series of mash notes (love letters) focused upon this groovy spot on earth. Here’s mash note numb-ah one. ❥ I got an email today from an old friend and this was his sign-off—Think globally, hug locally…. Read More

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