THE CHANGING SEASONS: APRIL 2016 – NOT QUITE SPRUNG

I thought I’d add a few pictures to this because this month, after a warm and springlike March, April commenced with two quite substantial snows. It killed the daffodils — I’m hoping not forever, but they just died under the snow. Surprisingly, the forsythia continued to bloom while covered with snow.

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Both pictures were taken on April 3rd, but it snowed again on the 8th. I was just too tired of snow pictures by then to bother to shoot anything. I think in heavy snow regions, we do get weary of the white stuff. By the time April rolls around, we want some color, not more whiteness.

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It’s beginning to green. Here and there. A few blossoms on shrubs and trees. The green shoots of flowers that will bloom soon. One single bright yellow tulip.

Usually we don’t see full leaf on the trees until mid-May, but I think it’ll be early this year.

Dam on the Mumford in mid-April

Dam on the Mumford

Nothing was blooming by the dam, but the trees have that fuzzy look that means impending green. And there’s plenty of water this spring. After five years of drought, it’s a joy to see the river full and hear the rushing of the water.

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Everything is poised for spring, but it has not quite sprung.

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This is the dam over the Mumford in the middle of town. You’ve seen it before. The white building on the left is a liquor store now, but was a small mill in its former life.

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And then, there’s our garden. The daffodils died during the second April snow, but the forsythia remained undaunted. The day lilies are coming up with a fury. The violets are blooming.

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It’s Earth Day today. My garden is ready to celebrate.

What’s this «Changing Seasons» blogging challenge?

Some words from Cardinal Guzman

«The Changing Seasons 2016» is a blogging challenge with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month. Anyone with a blog can join this challenge and it’ll run throughout 2016. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t join the first month(s), late-comers are welcomed. These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

These are the rules for Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

These are the rules for Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

PUT THE FORK DOWN AND BACK AWAY FROM THE TABLE …

We moved to the Valley from Boston. I have been assured that from a gourmet point of view, Boston isn’t one of the great cities. I would not know since I’m not a gourmet, but I do know the difference between a good meal, a well-prepared meal, and … well … the food they serve in most of the local restaurants.

Garry and I ate out a lot when we were courting. Less after we got married because that was exactly when Garry discovered he liked meatloaf and I discovered I preferred very polite wait staff. We compromised and although we didn’t go out quite as often as we had, we still went out on our days off, whenever they were.

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The thing about cities is you can find any kind of cuisine you want. Nothing is so obscure you can’t find a restaurant specializing in it. Hungarian? Vietnamese? Every kind of Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean and Italian from Florence to Sicily. Not to mention German, Brazilian, and English Pub. And so much more. If it isn’t world-class, it’s nonetheless really good. And there’s no place that does better with seafood of all kinds. Boston specializes in chowder (pronounced chow-dah, if you please).

We moved to the Valley. However idyllic the river and dams might be, the gastronomic scenery was — to put it kindly — disappointing. This is an area where garlic is an exotic spice and black pepper considered adventurous. Food — no matter what the supposed origin — is bland, usually overcooked and probably drowned in brown gravy. With a side of white bread.

Even the so-called Chinese restaurants include white bread with the take-out.

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We had moved from the land of Really Great Seafood to the Valley of tasteless glop. The only bright spot was (is) breakfast. Good coffee, eggs, and bacon with a side of pancakes are the pinnacle of haute cuisine.

Until Wanakura (in Milford) arrived, a Japanese restaurant that serves excellent Japanese cuisine. Over the years, word has spread, so it has become popular and rather pricey. Nonetheless, it remains our top destination for birthday and anniversary celebrations.

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Otherwise, may I strongly recommend to those visiting our beautiful Blackstone Valley who would like to avoid disappointment?  Don’t choose fancy restaurants. They will charge you more money for mediocre or outright bad food. Keep it simple. You can count on almost any restaurant to produce a pretty good burger and fries.

Pizza? This is not Brooklyn or even Queens. They do not grasp the concept of a crispy crust. It’s edible. Mostly. Some places deliver. We prefer the frozen pizza from the grocery store. If you want good Italian food, I’ll cook you something.

Enjoy a hearty breakfast at Mom’s in the middle of town, or any one of the little diner-type hole-in-the-wall breakfast places. The coffee is good and hot. As for dinner, check out the diner in Mendon. I don’t know how late it’s open, so you might want to call first. Otherwise, there’s an Asian fusion place in North Smithfield (RI) and the aforementioned Wanakura. Or hike on up to Worcester, or better yet, down to Providence.

What do I do when guests come calling?

I cook. Even my lesser efforts are better than almost all the local eateries.

DISAPPOINTMENT – DINING IN THE VALLEY IS NO GASTRONOMIC TRIUMPH