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Monday, February 24, 2014

Beacon Bits -- Winter Blues ?

Have you felt like this winter has been insurmountable ...........................................................
................................ or have you felt blocked and damned up by the endless snow and ice?
Hopefully you've been watching the 2014 Olympics in Sochi to inspire you to believe in the power of overcoming the inimitable characteristics of the cold season of the year. if so, you've witnessed seventeen days of overcoming the challenges to ski, skate, twirl, rotate, speed, jump, slide, and glide over snow and ice.
But as for local action, it's time to review the options for what can lift the spirits since winter may last another 6 weeks!
Here's my top 10 list of activities to engage in to feel rejuvenated before the sap starts to run in the Hudson Valley once again.
10. Stop by Clay Wood & Cotton and purchase some novelty yarn; it's never to late to learn to knit or crochet. And if you do, you'll have lots of warm scarves and hats to accessorize for long winters such as this one!
9. Stop by Main Street Music and purchase a ukulele, mandolin or banjo and start to take lessons. Your brain will thank you for challenging the neural pathways; learning how to play an instrument is a great way to integrate cortical functioning.
8. Visit one of the local bakeries (Ella's Bellas, Cake Bin, All You Knead, or the new Beacon Bread Company or Get Frosted); indulge in carbohydrates which are good for serotonin receptors -- a natural anti-depressant.
7. Start moving -- take a ballroom dancing class at Yanarella's School of Dance starting Sunday March 9 -- you'll be ready for the stars!
6. Get into some great music at the Towne Crier Café.  After attending the Nuala Kennedy concert on February 9th, I'm looking forward to Lunasa - another Irish import!
5. Bring some friends to Eat-Paint-Love and make a personal art happening. This is definitely 'art for the rest of us' - those who are not naturally artistic and talented but who want to re-visit the days of finger-painting and training the brain to create what it sees.
4. Stop by Artisan Wine Shop on a Friday or Saturday evening to learn about some new wine selections for your cellar as you partake of food and wine pairings from Tim and Mei.
3.  Anticipate the spring by signing up for a local CSA -- Obercreek Farm and Common Ground Farm are starting to gear up for shares of vegetables that start in the spring and carry you through into autumn.
2. Support a local fundraiser -- Beacon Sloop Club is having an event on Thursday February 27th at the Towne Crier Café for the renovation of the people's sloop -- the Woody Guthrie. And BeaconArts is honoring Linda Hubbard at the Dia Beacon on Thursday February 27th for her participation in the emergence of the art scene in Beacon.

1. Catch the end of season winter sale at Mountain Tops Outfitters. In addition to extending your play in the snow this year, you'll be prepared for the first snow days of winter 2015!
While hoping that the stirrings of Zora Dora is a sign that spring is really coming, immerse yourself in the remaining days of these authentic winter days. Enjoy the transformation of nature - the outline of the trees and mountains with the sharp contrast of dark and light; the subtle presence of our natural treasures; the stillness of time and the beauty of being in this moment of time.
Snow padded tree limbs
Mountain gazes over ice
Flying eagle soars.
Food for thought:  The days are lengthening and the light is returning. It won't be long before Daylight Savings Time returns on March 9th (remember, it's spring ahead). Be aware that the loss of an hour's sleep has its cost, and that there are more accidents on the road the Monday after the clocks are changed. Early birds suffer the most with the time change. If you find yourself sleep deprived, try to adjust to the change with incremental shifts in the hour of sleep and wakening prior to the time change. Learn more about circadian rhythms and the impact of sleep on overall health. But in the meantime, use that full hour each day to venture out and enjoy the remaining days of the winter of 2014.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Beacon Bits -- New Beginnings

February 1st is the first day of spring (Imbolc) in the Celtic calendar, so it seems fitting to notice what is happening with the ongoing harbinger of Main Street renewal and expansion of businesses suitable for community life, such as--
o  those who are keeping resolutions to exercise and keep fit as seen through the windows of Crossfit Locomotive while anticipating the stirrings of a new venue, Oak Vino,  open in time for a Valentine's date;
Far cry from the 'virtual community' that once existed between the Yankee Clipper and Beacon Post Office
o  the expanded and pristine location of Roosevelt Vet on the Hudson where Dr. McArdle and her warm and friendly team are ready for whatever furry friends come their way;
Roosevelt Vet (left) with room for More Good (right) next to Towne Crier Cafe
o  the presence of David and Jacob Bernz at Main Street Music, where stringed instruments and lessons are ready for the plucking;
Main Street Music, located in an historic building known for its manufacture of horse-drawn carriages
o  the relocation to a new home (its third in Beacon) for People's Bicycle with a much deserved street presence and improved visibility for Beaconites who follow the sharrows;
People's Bicycle -- Coming Soon to a new location across from the Beacon Theatre
o  the sneak peak at an exciting mystery market (across from Max's on Main) for serious foodies;

o and the recent opening of Beacon Bread Company, a bakery and bistro that will make early birds ecstatic when they show up at 7am for freshly baked bread (every day but Tuesday), or an early breakfast plate, or a varied lunch menu for those who sleep in or take-out later in the day. Bread varieties include challah, brioche, baguette, oatmeal raisin walnut, caraway rye, Pain Aux Cereales. Heavenly!
No it's not Paris -- but the continental bakery had a recent visit from People's Bicycle for Sunday breakfast!

As you begin to explore the various venues, it will be a good time to 'make new friends, but keep the old' as Diane Keaton sang at the Golden Globes, welcoming the newcomers to Main Street as they rub shoulders with their neighbors who seem to have staying power. It's good to note that the newbies don't seem to need the fanfare of triangular flags draped in their windows to draw people inside. They know that if you build it for the community and by the community, Beacon will come flocking and knocking at their doors.
Food for thought:  February is a time of transition, albeit betwixt and between the darker days of winter and the early days of spring. It's a good time to remind oneself that you can't really have a new beginning without some ritualistic ending or closure followed by a period of movement towards something new. I was reminded of this when I met a new friend recently diagnosed with diabetes. Old habits die hard.  It's extremely challenging to learn new ways of eating. No sweetened iced tea. Breakfast first thing in the AM. Regular mealtimes. It's just as challenging as picking up a banjo for the first time, or using the unfamiliar equipment at a Gymboree for adults! We all need maps and landmarks to guide us towards the new habits that await us. Sometimes we even welcome the presence of an empathic guide who occasionally lapses into drill sergeant mode or whatever it takes to create a new lifestyle. It's worth it. Or at least it's a healthy response to Mary Oliver's poem in which she queries, 'what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?'
A Picture-is-Worth-a-Thousand Words Recipe
for a Low Glycemic Vegetable Soup to Start the New Year
(with garlic, onion, celery, yellow/orange/red peppers, zucchini, kale, fennel, sweet potato, string beans, chicken stock, red beans, stewed tomatoes, parsley, oregano, basil, salt, pepper)


For the non-diabetic -- serve with a simple and delicious whole grain bread from Beacon Bread Company.