Surviving home during the season
For most people, one certainty when it comes to the winter holidays is that they’ll involve visiting friends and family. Key to making these visits not only survivable, but enjoyable, is having an array of fun activities lined up and places to go. Among the resources are several farms and other attractions around the Pioneer Valley that not only make holiday wreaths, swags and kissing balls, but will help you learn how to make them yourself.
Here is a sampling:
∎ Lillian Jackman of Wilder Farm in Conway will help you select fresh cut local greens of balsam, juniper and pine to create a beautiful and personal decoration.
“We make our own, gorgeous, catalog-quality wreaths, but I’m happy to teach our visitors how to make them as well,” said Jackman. “The items we create are hand-tied and truly fresh.”
Jackman said that many holiday decorations made of natural materials are often at least a month old and have been shipped from elsewhere. Jackman said the decorations made at her farm will last throughout the winter if placed outside. She supplies all the needed goodies to put the decorations together starting at $20 with a free lesson. Wilder Farm is having a special open house Nov. 24 and 25 and is located at 351 South Shirkshire Road, in Conway.
“Just dress warm. My barn is only nominally heated,” she cautions. She can also be contacted at 625-9446.
∎ Northampton’s Hickory Dell Farm also offers instruction, classes, both public and private for creating fresh holiday decorations, and an opportunity for children to see Santa with his “llamadeer” Sundays, starting Nov. 25, from 1 to 3 p.m. Hickory Dell is located at 245 West Farms Road and can be reached to schedule classes at 586-0031. You can also go online at hickorydell.com for more information.
∎ Make cutting your own Christmas tree even more fun with a stop at Emerson Family Christmas Tree Farm in Greenfield. As of Nov. 25, the farm will be open seven days a week starting at 8 a.m. and will offer free hayrides, popcorn and cider. “We have a big wood stove going. It’s a great family atmosphere,” said Debbie Emerson.
The Emerson Family Christmas Tree Farm is located 878 Bernardston Road.
If you find you and your loved ones need to get out of the house, consider these field trips:
∎ Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens in South Deerfield is celebrating its 12th year with an event titled “Blue Morph Madness.”
Besides the usual comforting warmth and color of the conservatory on cold winter days, this year you will also be treated to “a sea of blue,” according to Kathy Fiore, general manager.
“We usually fly around 200 to 300 Blue Morphos. This year we were able to obtain 600 to 800 chrysalises,” said Fiore. Blue Morphos are a brilliant blue and about the size of your hand. Fiore said that the Morphos live about two months so will be around through the holiday season. Magic Wings also has about 4,000 other tropical and local butterflies, lush tropical plants, a Koi fish pond and a few other critters (ever-changing) running around, such as baby quail.
On Sundays, Magic Wings has craft time for children, free with paid admission, from 1 to 3 p.m. On Sunday, Dec. 16, there will be a special holiday craft making session for children including a visit from Santa and free popcorn.
For more information on Magic Wings call 665-2805 or visit magicwings.com Magic Wings is open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at 281 Greenfield Road.
∎ Another place to find winter respite is the Lyman Conservatory at Smith College in Northampton, where visitors wander the tropically moist and cozy home to thousands of carefully tended plants. The conservatory is located on College Lane and the fee is by donation.
∎ On Sunday afternoons, starting Dec. 16, from 3 to 5 p.m., you can ice skate indoors at the Williston Northampton School’s Lossone Rink in Easthampton. You need to bring your own skates and the fee is $5 per person. The rink is located at 19 Payson Ave.
∎ Historic Deerfield has something for everyone. “We see lots of visitors from the local area who know about this great local attraction but don’t visit until they get to bring along Aunt Alice or the grandparents,” said Amanda Rivera-Lopez, director of education and interpretation at Historic Deerfield. “We love when that happens. Everyone is in a nice mood and they get to slow down, relax, and have fun,” she added.
On weekends until Nov. 25, you can create an apple pomander to take home, and weekends from Dec. 1 through 18, you can take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the village from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“There are three crafts you can choose from to make all through the month of December,” said Rivera-Lopez. You can also have guided tours of the 17th century museum houses.
Jennifer Lee, of the Narragansett Indian tribe, will offer a day of native culture, history and basket making Nov. 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Or, on Nov. 24, also from 10 to 4, you can enjoy 17th-century reenactors demonstrating the many crafts and skills of the time, such as spinning, lace-making and arms/armor.
The will also be open hearth cooking demonstrations, which are ongoing. All of these activities and more are included in the museum admission, which is $12 for adults and $5 for youth ages 6 to 17. Children under age 6 are admitted free. For more information you can go to Historic Deerfield’s website.