Chesterfield, New Hampshire
January 29th, 2010 by Judy Hueber
Sam's in Brattleboro 1940
One of the best things about Brattleboro , Vermont, which is 2 miles from the Inn, is Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters (Check out their web site at: http://www.samsoutdooroutfitters.com ). Sam’s is a Brattleboro landmark, and has occupied its half block of Main Street since the 1930′s. It was opened by the Borofsky family and is still is owned by the third generation of the Borofsky’s.
Sam’s is a great place to shop, for locals as well as people traveling through town. I have a friend from New Jersey who stops at Sam’s every time he visits us, to look for that one piece of fleece that he has to have. The prices are reasonable and the selection is great. Sam’s has everything from hiking boots to Carharrt jeans to fishing poles to ski jackets to long underwear to waders to yoga pants to guns. They have winter clothes for the entire family, as well as kayaks, canoes, cross country skis and snowshoes. In the summer, there are short and shirts of all kinds, as well as bathing suits and sandals. The store has multiple levels, connected by stairs, and rambles through the building. The popcorn machine , providing fresh popcorn to all customers on a self serve basis, is in the center of the store. The popcorn is a very helpful distraction when shopping with kids!
This weekend is Sam’s Pre-inventory sale and everything in the store is at least 20% off. I was delighted to find a pair of Merrill Gore-tex hiking boots at 20% off among the huge selection of women’s hiking boots and walking shoes in the basement of Sam’s. Then I climbed the stairs up to the men’s hunting section, past the popcorn machine, and down a couple of steps to the women’s clothing section. I tried on a Patagonia parka that was half price but the wrong color, and then found an alpaca sweater with a rolled collar that was 40% off. I managed to stop there, but keep thinking of the Smartwool sox that I should have gotten-maybe I’ll go back for another look this weekend!
September 28th, 2009 by Judy Hueber
It all began 5 years ago at the Strolling of the Heifers Parade in Brattleboro, Vermont. I was standing on the sidewalk with my friend Linda, watching the beautiful Jersey and Holstein calves, heifers and cows walk past. All of a sudden , there was a different kind of animal in front of us, not a cow, not a goat, not a llama! It was then that I saw my first alpaca! They look a bit like a small llama, with long necks, big eyes, and very soft fleece. I fell in love!
I rushed home to call my younger brother who is a farmer in Hardwick , Massachusetts, to tell him how cute this alpaca was, and to suggest that he get some! His answer was : “You go first! ” He said that he had plenty of animals and , since I only had a few cats, it seemed that I should be the one to get the alpacas!
Our 10 acres of land is plenty for alpacas, who like about an acre of land for each 10 animals. They do need fencing to protect them from predators, and at least a 3 sided shelter so that they can be protected from the snow. They need to be sheared every 6 months or so, and eat only about a bale of hay each week, in addition to grazing in the field. They’d look so picturesque from the Inn, grazing serenely in the back meadow, ready for guests to wander out and talk to them! The only draw back was the price- a female alpaca can cost as much as $8,000 and up. So, the alpaca dream has languished, as we take care of more immediate concerns such as painting the Inn or college tuition for the kids.
Last Saturday, I saw a box ad on the front page of the Brattleboro Reformer that an “Open Farm” was being held at Wildwood Acres Alpacas up in Newfane. After I finished cooking breakfast, I drove up to see the alpacas. There were 11 in all, some brown, some white, some black, some younger, some older, living in a beautiful meadow with a barn built just for them. The owner showed me around, and introduced me to the alpacas. One of them let me pet him: we stood nose to nose while I petted his neck and then he put his head on my shoulder. I was in heaven!
So, the dream still lives, and I know that I can go and visit Wildwood Acres now and then, even if we don’t have our own alpacas yet!
June 30th, 2009 by Judy Hueber
There’s a picture on our web site that several guests have asked about and said ” I want to go there!” There is a waterfall in Chesterfield Gorge, a small 13 acre New Hampshire State Park, located right in Chesterfield. Chesterfield Gorge is seven miles from the Chesterfield Inn, on Route 9 East. Dogs are welcome there, but you can’t take bikes or ATV’s on the trails.
The gorge is a terrific place for a short walk in the woods with a big pay off. You can park in the parking lot right on Route 9, and in 5 minutes, you are standing on the side of the gorge, staring at the rushing water far below. By definition, a gorge is a deep ravine carved from the landscape by flowing water. The gorge trail is very well marked, with red blazes (red wooden trail markers nailed to tree trunks every so often) as well as directional arrows. Footing is generally good and hiking boots are not necessary, although I wouldn’t recommend wearing flip flops. The trees are close to the trail, and it is shady and mossy. In the spring and summer when it’s green and lush, the forest reminds me of scene in Star Wars when the Ewoks and Stormtroopers are riding around on those flying motorcycles.
One of the Gorge Waterfalls
The trail winds down one side of the gorge, with several places where you can stop and enjoy the woodsy views of the cliffs and the Wilder Brook below. The park service has even placed metal fencing at the most precarious points so that you can look without worrying about falling. The trail slopes gradually downward to a flat area where there is a wooden bridge that crosses the brook , allowing hikers to continue on the other side of the gorge.
On the far side of the bridge, if you head up hill a few steps, and over to the edge of the water, there is a calm spot with a sandy area, where kids (of all ages) can actually play in the water. Once you’re finished dipping your feet in the water, and splashing around, you can get back on the trail and head down the far bank of the brook to the second bridge, cross back to the other side and wind your way back up the gorge. There are some very nice views of the waterfalls on this section of the trail, looking up from the lowest part of the falls and up through the cliff and woods. The gorge is a quiet place to walk and enjoy the woods and gorgeous scenery. There are no crowds there, and all you can hear is the wind and the birds singing. It’s a great place to “walk off” breakfast or for a quick walk before you head home.
June 2nd, 2009 by Judy Hueber
We now have Walpole Creamery ice cream on our dessert menu at the Chesterfield Inn! The Walpole Creamery is located right on Route 12 in Walpole, which is about a 20 minute drive north of the inn. Their ice cream is made entirely from scratch, using all natural ingredients, and hormone free milk from Walpole farms. You can visit the Walpole Creamery from noon to 8:00 PM daily and sample any of their delicious flavors.
We serve their Sweet Cream ice cream with all of our desserts as the house “a la mode”. It’s just delicious on the Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp! Or, if you like, you can have your Sweet Cream in a marbled white and dark chocolate cup with chocolate or caramel sauce. We also offer one of the other flavors as a monthly special. This month the special flavor is Chocolate Chocolate Chip. It’s fabulous!
April 27th, 2009 by Judy Hueber
One of my favorite things about Chesterfield is just up Welcome Hill from the Chesterfield Inn. As you come from Brattleboro, Vermont on Route 9, you’ll come to an intersection where, if you turn right on Cross Road, you’ll end up at the inn. If you turn left onto Welcome Hill Road, you’ll see the old cemetery, the Burying Ground, dating from 1772, with its weather beaten tombstones still standing in the rocky New Hampshire soil.
Follow the road up the steep hill, until it turns to dirt, and you’ll come to what the locals call The Daffodil Garden. It’s on the right side of the road, and on the side of the hill that slopes down to a wooded stream. The garden is part of someone’s yard, but they’ve been generous enough to notice that people come up the hill just to see the garden, so they’ve made the public welcome. There’s a place to pull over and park your car, and two park benches overlooking the garden, so you can sit and enjoy the flowers. The handwritten sign at the top of the path that leads into the garden says: “Please remember: no dogs, no running children, no picking (of course), open from 9 AM to 8PM.” There’s even a bound guest book to record your name and thoughts, protected from the rain by two metal trays and a rock to keep it all from blowing away.
The garden is a riot of spring flowers, in bright colors: yellow forsythia, yellow and white and orange daffodils, yellow narcissus, white dogwood, and pink azaleas, all connected by a meandering path that winds around the clumps of blooms. I like to come up when I have a minute to myself and just sit in the dappled light, letting the colors blur a bit as I listen to the birds sing and bask in our long awaited springtime!
April 7th, 2009 by Judy Hueber
Today we are the Brattleboro Blog! The Chesterfield Inn, although located in New Hampshire, is a short 10 minute drive across the Connecticut River to Main Street, Brattleboro. A Brattleboro vacation can be spent in town or on the river, the mountains, or the rambling trails in the woods. Brattleboro is a very vibrant place, with lots going on and many nooks and crannies to explore.
If you are considering visiting Brattleboro, Vermont, here are ten places to visit while you’re here.
1. Amy’s Bakery: a must for a latte and an almond horn, a baguette or for lunch.
2. Vermont Artisan Designs: chock full of the finest art and objects crafted by Vermont artisans.
3. The Book Cellar: a real independent book store, with great selection and fabulous customer service.
4. Latchis Theater: 4 screens in a a Art Deco building with movies and live shows.
5.Grafton Cheese Company: cheese factory and a shop full of edible delights
6. Brattleboro Food Coop: the place to meet the locals; much more than a grocery store.
7. Farmer’s Market: Saturdays on Route 9 in West Brattleboro in the warm months. Farmers, food and fun!
8. Walker Farm; a heavenly oasis for flowers and plants as well as fresh, organic produce seasonally.
9. Tom and Sally’s Chocolate: on Route 30, for the best chocolate and fancy candies in town.
10. Brattleboro Retreat Trails to the Retreat Tower: a wonderful walk in the woods to the tower that overlooks Brattleboro.
We’d be happy to tailor an itinerary for you to use while you’re here if you give us some idea of your interests. Just speak to anyone at the front desk!
March 16th, 2009 by Judy Hueber
It’s maple sugaring season in New Hampshire, a sure sign that spring is on the way! The weather dictates when sugar season begins, since for the sap to run there must be temperatures above freezing in the daytime and below freezing at night. This New England tradition was begun by the Native Americans, and continues to this day. Sugar houses can be found all over rural New Hampshire, with operations both large and small. New Englanders love their maple syrup, and enjoy it on pancakes, french toast, and ice cream.
When the temperatures are high enough for the frozen sap in the trees to thaw, the sap melts, and pressure builds up in the tree until the sap begins to run. Maple syrup makers tap the trees by drilling holes in them, collect the sap, and boil it down into syrup. Trees are tapped and a bucket set on the trunk of the tree to catch the sap. The farmer then goes from tree to tree in the sugarbush emptying the buckets into a larger bucket to transport back to the sugar house to boil down. (In larger operations, the taps are set up so that the sap runs into tubing that runs between the trees and collects the sap at a central point, saving time and labor).
Once the sap is back transported to the sugar house, it is boiled down over a very hot wood fire, until the water evaporates away and syrup is formed. If you visit a sugar house when they are boiling, when the syrup is finished, they offer around little paper cups of syrup so that you can taste the freshest maple syrup you will ever have. When our children were young, we visited a sugar house each spring so that they could see the syrup being made and have a taste. Another big treat, called Sugar on Snow, is to pour the hot maple syrup on packed snow, where it hardens like taffy and you can twirl it up and eat it, followed by a bite of dill pickle to cut the sweetness. Yum! Our local sugarhouses are open and boiling, so come on up and try some!
The maple syrup that we serve at the Inn comes from a local farm in Chesterfield owned by the Mitchell family. Peter Mitchell and his dad make syrup every year, and have it down to a fine science. Bill Mitchell has been making syrup for 70 years, since he was a boy, and it is delicious!
March 1st, 2009 by Judy Hueber
As anyone who follows the weather knows, we’ve lots and lots of snow in Southwestern New Hampshire this winter! We’ve had at least one storm each week since early December, and the storms have all dumped at least 5 inches of the white stuff on us. Up here, we measure snowstorms on whether there’s enough to shovel-3 inches or more- and whether there’s enough to plow-5 inches or more. A blizzard is when we have white out conditions and enough to plow twice-12 inches or more! You get the picture.
Since our winter lasts so long, northerners know that the only way to get through it is to embrace it, to get outside and enjoy it. Yes, it’s cold, but there is a particular beauty to winter that is stunning. The air is bracing, the leafless branches of the trees stand out against the sky, the snow softens the landscape as it defines the soft evergreens in its white backdrop.
One of the best kept secrets of the Monadnock Region is Pisgah Park, right here in Chesterfield. The Park encompasses 13,500 acres, and has two entrances in Chesterfield, at Horseshoe Road and on Route 63 at Kilburn Pond.
Last weekend, my friend Annie and I headed out for a snow shoe in the park. Annie had never gone snow shoeing before but she picked it up right away and off we went. We used ski poles for balance, and moved right along into the woods on the trail. We met two other people the entire time that we were out and has a lovely snow shoe on the pristine trail along Kilburn Pond. If we’d had more time we could have made the entire loop around the pond, which takes about 3 hours. After 2 hours we were tired, and headed home in the dusky late afternoon, feeling exhilarated by the strenuous exercise, and beauty of the outdoors.
January 16th, 2009 by Judy Hueber
It’s January in New Hampshire and that means cold weather, and plenty of snow. As I look out my window to the back meadow, I can see the barn with its snow covered roof hung with icicles. The trees are touched with white and the meadow has a sweeping carpet of soft, deep snow. It’s just beautiful!
About a foot of our snow fell last Saturday night, and the temperature has been hovering around fifteen degrees since then so there is no icy crust and the snow is soft and light. These are perfect conditions for cross country skiing or snow shoeing. I have my own equipment and am an experienced skier so the closest place to ski is nearby Pisgah Park. The park is open to skiers, hikers, snow shoers or snowmobilers and is big enough (14,000 acres) to accommodate all. There are two entrances to the park in Chesterfield with ample parking.
For groomed trails and a weekend warming hut, try the Outing Club ski trails at the Brattleboro Outing Club. The trails wind all around the golf course and into the surrounding woods and offer varying levels of difficulty. A day’s pass is $15 and we have “Buy one, get one free” coupons at the Front Desk.
Grafton Outdoor Center, in Grafton, Vermont, is a 40 minute drive from the Inn. Grafton is open daily and has groomed cross country ski trails, and snow shoe trails. They also have snow making, ski and snowshoe rentals, ski lessons, a tubing hill, a skating pond, and a warming hut with snack bar. I always find it relaxing to start on the front flat section near the warming hut and then go up into the trails in the woods when I’ve warmed up a bit. Our newest special at the Inn is an overnight stay with two Grafton day passes included. Check it out at:http://www.chesterfieldinn.com/specials.html
At this time of year, the best way to enjoy the cold is to bundle up, get outside, and enjoy the show that Mother Nature is putting on for all of us!
December 6th, 2008 by Judy Hueber
Yesterday I went up to Elysian Hills Tree Farm in Dummerston , Vermont to get the Christmas trees for the lobby and parlor. We always put the Christmas decorations up right after Thanksgiving weekend to start the season off right. There’s something so cozy about having the trees lit and the fire going when night falls at 4:00 in the afternoon in early December. We’ve been getting our trees from Bill and Mary Lou Schmidt for years, because I love going there, and because their trees are the best around. The tree farm is a 10 minute drive from the inn, on a dirt road that winds up through the woods until the view of their fields opens up at their driveway. The rows of trees in all different sizes make a mosaic of shades of green against the brown grasses.
I got there early because I knew that they’d be busy right after Thanksgiving. Sure enough, the driveway had several cars lined up ready for trees to be tied to the tops for the trip home. The Christmas music was wafting from the sun room where Mary Lou collects the money and their Bernese Mountain dog, Urs, was gallumping back and forth escorting people up the hill with their trees.
I got out of the car and walked down to the racks of trees, looking for a balsam since they seem to last the longest. The fragrance of the evergreens hung heavy in the crisp wintry air, and my footsteps crunched in the light dusting of snow that had fallen the night before. I looked for a tree that was the right height, since all of the trees had perfect round shapes. I chose two eight foot trees and dragged them over to Bill who was netting trees and helping people get them to their cars.
I went into the sun room where Mary Lou was sitting next to the wood stove with her money box and calculator. I only see her once a year when I get my trees but she always recognizes me and we chat for a few minutes about how the year has been. By the time I finished talking to Mary Lou , Bill had both trees tied to the top of my car. I gave Urs a pat and got into the car to head home.