Posts Tagged ‘Sons and Daughters of Hawley’

A Garden Tour

Thursday, July 9th, 2009
Roses in Mary Kay Hoffman's Garden

Roses in Mary Kay Hoffman’s Garden

 
 
This time of year it seems as though garden tours are everywhere. A month ago gardens in Western Massachusetts were barely getting started! Now thanks to the frequent bouts of rain we’ve been enjoying(?)–and of course to the labors of those who love to garden–flowers and vegetables are almost unbelievably lush.
 
We’re now wedged between two of my favorite tours. The Franklin Land Trust just held its annual Farm & Garden Tour. I am always surprised by the variety of farming enterprises, landscapes, animals, and flowers this tour highlights.
 
And this weekend the Hawley Artisans and Garden Tour will take place in my hometown. The Hawley tour is a fund raiser for the Sons & Daughters of Hawley. This event isn’t what you’d call huge because Hawley isn’t what you’d call huge (although my late neighbor Florette always used to point out that it had the same square acreage as Singapore; I don’t know whether that’s strictly true, but it’s a wondrous thing to contemplate even if it’s only approximate!).
 
The Hawley tour lasts only one day (Saturday, July 11, this year) but still manages to attract a good crowd. Some years it has featured gardens; others, artists and artisans (I was a featured artisan one summer). Last year and this the organizers decided to combine the two–so visitors can view quilts, paintings, flowers, and much more.
 
I stopped by Sunday to visit Mary Kay Hoffman and Earl Pope, whose garden will be featured on Saturday’s tour. Mary Kay handles the floral end of the yard while Earl is in charge of the vegetables; he has planted A LOT of tomatoes this year.
 
 
tomatoes web
 
 
Mary Kay took time from her pre-tour weeding marathon (she says she’s sore in what she could swear are new muscles!) to show me around. I’m hopeless at identifying flowers–unlike Mary Kay, Earl, and all the other dedicated workers on the tour I am no gardener–but I know that hers are beautiful and that it relaxed me to spend time walking by them.
 
 
a shady nook web
 
 
I’ll return on Saturday with my mother for more inspiration. Local readers who would like to take the tour may find contact information at its web page (the area code to call is 413).
 
Meanwhile, Mary Kay has offered a simple garden-party recipe for those who can’t attend this weekend’s festivities. Invite friends to enjoy these summer-filled sandwiches and celebrate the abundance in gardens around you. The flowers, fruits, and vegetables will be a fireside memory all too soon.
 
Mary Kay

Mary Kay

 
Mary Kay’s Tea Sandwiches
 
I’m sorry to give you another non-specific recipe, but the amounts in this one depend on a number of factors–the bread you use, the size of the vegetables you use, how generous you are with the butter, and so forth. So please forgive me. The sandwiches are worth the effort. The butter gives them a richness that will wow your garden-party guests. As Mary Kay says, “You can’t just eat one!”
 
Ingredients:
 
1 loaf white bread (MK uses Arnold Brick-Oven White. I couldn’t find it at my store so I used a Pepperidge Farm Sandwich loaf; this is one recipe in which home-made bread is NOT preferable! You can even buy one at a bakery)
softened butter
fresh herbs (dill for cucumber sandwiches, basil for tomato)
thinly sliced cucumbers and/or tomatoes as needed
 
Instructions:
 
First, cut the bread. Use a round cookie cutter to cut rounds of bread out of the slices of your loaf. According to Mary Kay, the rounds should be about the same size as your vegetables so you obviously want larger rounds for the tomatoes than for the cucumbers. You can buy your bread at a local bakery. Looking for bakeries Roanoke visit On The Rise Bread Company.
 
I have only a limited number of cookie cutters so my rounds weren’t QUITE the right size; in fact, they were a little big for the cukes and a little small for the tomatoes (which I cut up). I could only get 2 cucumber-sized rounds and 1 tomato-sized round out of each slice of bread; I gather that Mary Kay gets more volume (and probably has bigger slices of bread). So I wasted some bread. What wasn’t wasted was divine, however.
 
As you cut the rounds, place them in a plastic bag so they don’t dry out as you cut their brothers and sisters.
 
Blend your butter with most of the herbs in a food processor. You may also chop the herbs and blend them with the butter manually. I should think 1/2 pound of butter and 1/2 cup herbs would make enough herb butter for a whole loaf, but I’d have extra butter and herbs on hand anyway. 
 
If you like, you may freeze the buttered rounds until you are getting ready for your party. (Cutting and buttering them are fairly labor intensive and therefore handy to do in advance.)
 
To freeze the rounds, place them in a sealed plastic container with waxed paper between layers. When you’re ready to thaw them put them directly on your serving plate; they won’t take long to come to room temperature.
 
Thinly slice the cucumbers and/or tomatoes and put them on the appropriate buttered rounds. Garnish with additional herbs. These are open-faced sandwiches so you only need one round per sandwich.
 
Your garden-party guests will LOVE them!  You might want to consider making and freezing additional herb butter to impart extra flavor to vegetables and bread.
 
teasandscuweb
Truffle knows that a hat is always suitable attire for a garden tour or garden party.

Truffle knows that a hat is always suitable attire for a garden tour or garden party.

Illumination

Friday, December 19th, 2008
Serra Root illuminates the Hawley Meetinghouse (Photos on this post Courtesy of Lark Thwing)

Serra Root illuminates the Hawley Meetinghouse         (Photos on this post and the next Courtesy of Lark Thwing)

Colonial Williamsburg stages a Grand Illumination early each December. This weekend-long celebration includes bonfires, fireworks, and candlelit dinners. Visitors amble along the streets of the town, sipping mulled cider and enjoying the gift of light in this season of growing darkness.

 
Four years ago, the historical society in my small western-Massachusetts hamlet inaugurated its own Illumination tradition. On a Sunday evening in December, members and friends of the Sons and Daughters of Hawley gather in the Hawley Meetinghouse, the former East Hawley Church.
 
This Little Illumination doesn’t pack the punch of the one at Colonial Williamsburg, where the weekend draws the season’s largest crowds. This year on December 7 a whopping 12 people showed up at the old church in Hawley. The Meetinghouse has no heat so activities were necessarily brief.
 
Those gathered decorated an outdoor tree with bird treats. They lit the church’s elderly chandelier with lamp oil. They placed battery-operated candles in each window. They sipped a bit of warm cider, hot chocolate, or wine. They sang a few carols (a cappella since no one wanted to lay fingers on the frigid piano keys). They then swiftly departed for home.
 
Nevertheless, the two Illuminations—northern and southern, Little and Grand—have a lot in common. They both warm the heart if not the body. They both give their participants the feeling of living in the past, if only fleetingly. Standing in the Meetinghouse as it grew dark outside, enjoying the glimmering lights, we Illuminators felt as though we had been transported by magic into another era.
 
Above all, both Illuminations celebrate light.
 
Light is meaningful on a number of levels at this time of year. As we learned last week when many of us in New England lost our electricity, light is perhaps most highly valued when we don’t have it. In our complicated homes, light is synonymous with power—the literal power to talk on our electric telephones, type on our electric keyboards, cook on our increasingly (alas!) electric stoves.
 
Illumination and light are also symbols. Illumination was the term used in the Middle Ages for the creation of books that were transcribed and decorated, then passed on to posterity, spreading knowledge. Illumination also means understanding, figurative light that shines on some idea.
 
Light can stand for thought (the hackneyed light bulb that shouts “idea” in cartoons). It can stand for deity (the burning bush of God in the Old Testament). Above all, light stands for hope.
 
Christmas falls at this time of year not because Jesus was necessarily born in late December but because he is viewed as a symbol of hope, of light in the darkness. The December festivals of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa also focus on light, burning candles that celebrate a variety of positive attributes but hope above all.
 
Light is a central theme of the musical Big River, which won several Tony Awards when it debuted on Broadway in 1985. Big River is an adaptation of what may be the most American of novels, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Young Huck’s signature song in the show, “Waiting for the Light to Shine,” sums up much of his character just as Mark Twain’s novel summed up much of the American character. It is at once cynical and hopeful, kinetic and focused, pragmatic and idealistic.
 
“I have lived in the darkness for so long,” sings Huck to a country tune written by Roger Miller. “I’m waiting for the light to shine.”
 
At this time of year, we are all waiting for the light to shine. We find that light whenever we celebrate a holiday, whenever we gather with neighbors to sing or talk or feed the birds, whenever we start a fire and blow on it ever so gently to encourage the flames to rise.
 
I share my light by cooking; my most frequent holiday gifts are edible. In the posts immediately below this one I’m highlighting a few of the nibbles I’ll be giving out this year. I hope they bring a little light and a little fun to readers. Happy solstice!
 
To hear my fellow New Englander Jason Brook sing “Waiting for the Light to Shine,” visit this link.

 

Hawley Illuminators work to stay warm in the old church.

Hawley Illuminators work to stay warm in the old church.

 

Visit THESE LINKS are a couple of cookie recipes to help you celebrate your own illumination, one from me and one from Illumination regular Melanie Poudrieru.