It is January, there is a foot of snow on the ground, it’s as cold as can be… yet today local farmers gathered at Greenfield High School to sell their produce. I purchased fresh greenhouse spinach and lettuce, squash, whole wheat flour, honey, apples, jam, bread, grass fed beef, chicken, and even hot dogs! The Winter Farmers Market is growing steadily in Western Massachusetts. In Greenfield it is now a monthly event through the winter!
As I made my purchases I talked with the farmers. I asked them anything I wanted to know about their crops, and I thought wow, this is great. I love knowing where my food is coming from, I love buying local and keeping dollars in my community and I love supporting farmers! I was happy! The chitter chatter with the farmers and the smile on my face reminded me of how I feel with customers in my studio. Just a month ago at my Holiday Sale I was the one answering all the questions, and seeing the smiles on my customers faces. People thanked me for making pottery, and said how happy they were to be in my studio… I thanked them for supporting their local potter!
It’s all good!
We had some terrible flooding here in Western Massachusetts from Hurricane Irene (see earlier blog post for photo’s). My backyard is the Green River, a place I walk nearly every day. It has changed so much since the storm… some places hardly recognizable. Once the river went down enough and places were not so muddy that I could actually walk and not sink, I discovered some amazing beauty. There is an area were the earth is caked with clay and silt… large cracks nearly a foot deep everywhere the clay is drying. I came upon this one area where the leaves remained on top of the clay as the area around the leaves settled down with more rain a week later. I don’t know if the photo’s can capture the perfection of this magnificence of nature.
Usually about now after my summer break from blogging I talk about the boys going back to school and me getting back to a completely full schedule in the studio. It’s been a little different this last day of August. We have a great deal of destruction here in Western Massachusetts. Roads washed away, farms gone, houses swept into the rivers. It’s been a sad couple of days around here. My home and family are fine, just a little water in the basement. But I can’t say the same for others closer to the river. Our neighbors to the north in Vt. Including my close friend Linda, barely made it out alive, leaving her home in waist high water. She and her family are safe and her house is still standing, one of their cars was washed away, and her land is strewn with bits of other people’s homes, including kitchen appliances. They and their neighbors are stranded due to the roads that were washed away. They are without electricity and are sharing meals. I spoke to her briefly by cell phone yesterday. Hopefully today they were airlifted food from the national guard, as I heard many communities were as of yesterday.
Our main roads here in Greenfield were thankfully still in place except for a few. The plows were out all day Monday plowing the mud and the roads are usable again. Interstate 91 south has been closed for three days now. As is Rt. 2 in Charlemont.
The beautiful town of Shelburne Falls was so hard hit, the town where my potter friends Molly Cantor, Mary Barringer, and Steve Earp live. They are all fine, as are their studio’s, but the town businesses will be affected seriously as they head into our busiest season of the year during the fall foliage.
One of the saddest things for me is the loss of our beautiful covered bridge, just up the road from us. It is not only a beautiful place, a county treasure, a perfect swimming hole with a rope swing , it supplies 20% of our town drinking water. The dam at the reservoir broke, and washed out the road around the bridge. Here is a before and after photo.
Here are some photo’s that I took from the back woods near my house which overlooks the Green River Swim/Recreation area. The red roof you see is the concession building. The rushing water with a log jam is actually a high foot bridge which is totally submerged. The basketball courts speak for themselves. What is so amazing to all of us as the waters receded is that everything is actually still standing.
Baseball is very important in this family… the past four days I have been to five games between my two boys!
During this time of year I still work as much… I’d just say that my studio time gets broken up a bit by baseball. I have been filling many orders, and trying desperately to get some photos taken of my work. I have a little “to do” list each day, but somehow the photography never seems to get checked off… except for baseball photography!
Happy start of summer, and here’s to baseball!
More on the arts and the economy.
There is so much natural beauty here in Western Massachusetts, and so much happening in the arts. But the biggest and most exciting happenings are right here in Greenfield! Between the recent International Brick and Mortar Video Festival, to the huge state grant recieved for a performing arts center! Greenfield Ma. is in the midst of a downtown revival, thanks in part to the many artists, and musicians that live in the valley.
I recently read an article in Preview (the valley arts magazine) about Greenfield coming back to life. In an interview with Ed Wierzbowski, artist and entrepreneur, and major player in the downtown revival, (restoring two central Main St. historic buildings). Ed talks about the ripple effects of the creative economy. He was quoted as saying for every dollar spent on the creative side, five more are spent locally. I see how that happened here with my recent pottery workshop. Money was spent at the B&B’s, restaurants, local shops, and farms!
When I think about where I live, I think about the vibrancy of the arts and the beauty of this area known as Western Massachusetts. I ask myself how do I want to see this place in five years? Do I want a Wal-mart? Or do I want to walk downtown and go to a great restaurant, a concert, an art opening, or a movie? Do I want to shop at the small locally run businesses, or get on my bike to go buy apples from the local orchard, or maybe just take a walk and see the scenic views? I think the answer is pretty clear… when you live in a special place that tourists come to all year round, (especially the Leaf Peepers this time of year), you should keep that a place that people want to see, taste, and feel with all their senses!
I’ve just finished a one week intensive pottery workshop here in the lovely hills and valley of western Massachusetts. It is my second workshop for the year. Students have come from as far away as France, Canada, and Texas, New York, Boston, and Vermont. Someone recently asked me where the students are staying. I said, “Bed and Breakfast’s,” He said, “Boy, Lucy you are really a part of the local Arts and Economy.” I smiled proudly and said yeah I guess I am.
Between my workshops, weekly classes, open studio sales, and the Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail. I’m happy to know that what I do as potter/teacher contributes to the local economy.
Some pics below from our two field trips during the workshop. A View from the French King Bridge, the Green River and Barton’s Cove.
OPEN STUDIO AND HOLIDAY SALE
Your invited to my annual Holiday Sale at the newly renovated studio. Come and see the wonderful new space, have some hot cider and cookies. New work, and seconds will be available. There will also be a raffle for a large bowl to benefit Greenfield H.S. art dept.
December also is time to sign up for the Winter session of pottery classes!
Hope to see you here! Directions are on my website!