Showing posts with label Saratoga County. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saratoga County. Show all posts

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

















Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

My Handsome Husband quoted Keats as we walked along a branch of the Zim Smith Trail in Malta this week.

It is late in the season for woodland wildflowers. Most of what remains are asters, although a few other plants still valiantly bloom in an occasional sunny spot. But fruits and brown seed heads abound to provide their own beauty and add interest to the landscape.

And it was a beautiful day.

Nature is such a healer. Being outdoors, moving, observing, admiring, breathing: it all feels so good, so healthy, so peaceful. In a season when our country has lately witnessed so much destruction and human misery, both natural and man-made, it is good to have a place to go to walk quietly, to be quiet.

We live in a town where development is gobbling up the open spaces. I worry that there is not enough attention being paid to preserving land for future parks and nature areas. 

Here is what lured many of us to come live in this town in the first place: the sense of community, the grazing horses, the great blue herons, the wild turkeys, the views across the upper Hudson Valley. All of these things are rapidly disappearing in Malta. It makes me sad. Many of us grouse about development and increased traffic,  but I wonder: do we have the energy and enough consensus to push back, to advocate for land preservation, safe sidewalks, biking lanes, historical preservation, and a healthy environment? I hope so.


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Today, I picked up a knitting project that has been lying around undisturbed for far too long. My notes tell me that I started this sweater in September (cough) of 2015. I know that I am not the only knitter/sewer/crafter who sometimes sets things aside for long spells, for any number of reasons. But it aggravates me when I think about how close to finishing this project I was when I pushed it aside. Grrr. (For you knitters, the pattern is the Ramona cardigan, found on Ravelry.)

But now that this sweater has returned to active duty, so to speak,  I  have finished one sleeve and am "well begun" on the second. ( I can hear Mary Poppins in my head as I write this. She was fond of the expression, Well begun is half done. I believe  she was quoting Aristotle. Really. Look it up.)

The wool I am knitting is heavy and warm and still has bits of straw in it. It comes from neighboring Washington County sheep and the Battenkill mill there. I am happy to report that in Washington County, there is still room for grazing sheep and wading herons and preserved history and amazing views. Long may those things thrive there.

Wishing you peace on this fall weekend.

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To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
                             ~John Keats









Thursday, July 6, 2017

Isn't she lovely? The produce of our weekly Malta Ridge CSA











We are lucky to live in an area  where a few farms and small rural agri-businesses are still surviving, despite tremendous development pressures.  Just up the road from us is Malta Ridge Orchard and Gardens.  This spring, I bought a CSA share from them, or more precisely, a half-share.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. When you become a member of a CSA, you are purchasing a “share” of the fruits and vegetables from a local farmer.  (Malta Ridge also sells egg and chicken shares, but I just bought the produce option.)

In addition to being close and convenient for us, Malta Ridge offers lots of choices, which makes their CSA program work well for me. Because they also have a farm store, I can pop in on "my" day and choose from among the fruits and vegetables on offer. For my half-share, I can take home eight items per week.  "One item" may be designated as three tomatoes, for example, or a bunch of carrots.

So what did I take home this week? 

  1. A large head of lettuce.
  2. A bunch of carrots.
  3. A bunch of radishes.
  4. Two onions.
  5. Three tomatoes.
  6. A head of cauliflower.
  7. Two yellow summer squash.
  8.  A pint of blueberries.
Plus, I still have a few potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions left from last week.

This is week four of my (half) share, which will run until the first week of November. It has taken me a couple of trips to the farm to work out a smooth routine, but I have it all down pat now. 

I carry the produce home in my market baskets, wash and trim things like the carrots, then add the trimmings to my compost bin. The baskets get a quick wash and I am all set until next week. 


Malta Ridge is in the process of selling its development rights, with the help of grants from New York State, Saratoga County, and the Town of Malta. This means the owners are ensuring that someone will always and forever be able to have a farm on those 132 acres. That is quite a blessing for those of us who live near by. 

Fresh, local, healthy, delicious, and forever a farm. What's not to like?


Find the Malta Ridge Orchard and Gardens store at 107 Van Aernem Rd. in Malta. They are off Malta Avenue, near Route 9, not far from Northway Exit 13. Their telephone number is 518 229-1255. They also have a Facebook page.

Want a few other suggestions for Saratoga and Washington County farm-related business you should check out? These are a few of my favorites.

Smith Orchard Bake Shop  (You will never bake another pie.)
4561 Jockey Street
Ballston Spa, NY 12020

Battenkill milk - sold in many places locally. Check their website. It's really good.

And did you know?  ALL of Stewart's milk, ice cream, and eggs are produced locally, from local farms. 

Please comment and share your favorites, too. Let's support our local farms and orchards!





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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Eye of the Beholder

















Ugh. This is not the time of year when the Northeast looks its best. It is grumpy season here, when winter has held on just a little too long, when mud is the dominant feature of our backyard.

And yet, this morning, when I looked out the back door, there it was, that yellowing up of the forsythia bark, especially noticeable against the still-gray woods. I ventured out with my camera and sure enough, there are fat green forsythia buds just waiting for a warm spell.

The small dogwood tree near the house has plumped up buds, too. Like a good gardener, I continue my inspection. While a casual observer may see only mud and mess, I know where to look for signs of promise and to me, beauty.

A hydrangea shrub still has a few flowers clinging on from last fall. Delicate chestnut-colored shad-bush buds are lengthening. The soundtrack for my walk around the yard was birdsong and babbling brook.

Under the shelter of a limbed-up spruce tree, the rhododendron is also sporting thickening flower buds.

Around in front, the bark of red-twig dogwoods is aglow. There are still some red blossoms left from the winter's bloom of the witch hazel. In a sunny spot, early daffodils are inching up.

Now is the time of year when I appreciate evergreen shrubs and hardy lavenders. I have made a mental note to plant more.  We need more plants for winter interest, I often think in March. But flibbertigibbet that I am, I lose that thought come May and June, when iris and peonies and such are filling up the spaces that look so empty now.

We recently had two ailing Norway maples cut down. I was glad to have that taken care of before birds could start building nests there. We have lived in this house for eleven years now, and for all of that time, two weathered soccer balls have been stuck in the top branches of one of those maples. They were artifacts left from the three boys who lived here before us. When the tree guys took that maple down, the balls were finally freed, and the young men in the work crew began kicking the soccer balls around to each other. It was a funny moment.

After the crew left, I found the soccer balls set neatly at the edge of the garden. I can't quite bring myself to throw them away just yet.




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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Thursday's walk through Malta woods, while there still are some.



I once thought that I had a pretty good accumulation of knowledge about the woods of the Northeast. I certainly played in them as a child, and enjoyed hiking and occasionally camping in them as an adult. 



But a few years ago, I was lucky enough to meet and link up with a venerable group of experts who call themselves the Thursday Naturalists (or TNs, for short). Ed Miller, who recently turned 92, still leads this group most Thursdays. Spending time in the outdoors with Ed and folks like Jackie Donnelly and her friend Sue is always a joy, as they are able to share so much collective knowledge. Ruth Schottman was not with us on this particular outing, but she is one of the founders of this group and a learned lady who has amassed decades of woodland knowledge. 



Our outing this day was a woodland trail along the Ballston Creek. The trail starts at the back of a playground area in Malta's Shenantaha Creek Park, off Eastline Road, and runs roughly parallel to the Malta section of Saratoga County's Zim Smith Trail

Ed pointed out lots of native yews, " ... all low enough to have survived browsing (it is deer candy)".

We saw evergreen woodferns, like this one, an intermediate fern.

While so much looks brown in the November woods, there is always a surprising amount of color when you look for it. I like the pale green of this lichen.


Along the creek, this tree was well-decorated for the season with turkey tail fungus.

The colors are so rich and earthy. It is easy to see where it gets its common name.

Someone pointed out this tree stump and how it looks like an eerie human hand.

Some of the under-story shrubs had caught falling pine needles, making them look purposely decorated, as if with nature's tinsel.

We speculated about the habit of native shadblow shrubs putting out tiny leaves at this time of year. Is it hope? Is it an attempt to gather just a tad more energy for the winter, now that the shade of the tree canopy is gone?
Here and there, we saw lots of yellow jelly mold fungus, spots of impossibly bright yellow.

I looked for one of my favorite winter woodland plants, partridgeberry, but didn't find any in fruit. We did find this wintergreen with some fruits, however.


The real surprise Thursday was finding this spotted salamander. Although they are supposedly common, I have never seen one in the woods before. We wondered why this one was out and about on this chilly morning. It was alive and moving, but we wondered why it wasn't hibernating. This one looked healthy; it was about six inches long. What disturbed it?

Native witch hazel was in bloom, as it should be at this time of year. 

There is something wonderful about old stone walls in the woods. They make one think of Robert Frost.

There is so much to appreciate and learn from a walk in the woods at any time of the year. I am so grateful to open space advocates who work to preserve such places for public use.

The Town of Malta is growing rapidly, which I guess was inevitable. First the Northway, Interstate Route 87, was built straight through it several decades ago. Then the powers-that-be brought in a computer chip plant. What did we think was going to happen here? Development is what happened, is STILL happening.

Two recent headlines in the Albany Business Review tell the continuing tale:

 Apartment developer preparing to buy 16 acres in Malta 

 ~ Real estate developer acquires 71 acres in Malta

I hope that elected officials and open space advocates at both the Saratoga County level and in the Town of Malta will start to recognize that creating more parks and trails and preserving open space through PDRs (purchase of development rights) is an urgent priority. I worry that we're quickly running out of time. And space.




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