Walking through the woods yesterday evening I heard the spring peepers for the first time this year. There are clumps of something wild that look like snowdrops, the burgundy bulbs of skunk cabbage are presenting themselves and I saw recent beaver activity along the edge of the pond. I thought to myself, “I am so spoiled because I live in this beautiful place.”

I am spoiled because I live in a safe and quiet neighborhood where there are friendly people who speak to one another and care about what happens to their neighbors.

I am spoiled because I can buy artisanal bread, perfectly prepared at my bakery on Union Street. Michael Pollan wrote about baking bread in his most recent book, Cooked, and describes a perfect loaf of bread. That loaf of sourdough bread is just like the one that I buy any day of the week except Monday.

Sourdough bread

Sourdough bread



I am spoiled because I can buy fresh, locally pastured chicken and eggs at the butcher shop on Cottage Street. While I am there, I can get pasta, cheese and tomato products that come from Italy. No GMO, no additives and the wheat has not been treated with round-up as part of the harvesting process.

I am spoiled because there is an organic farm less than a mile from my house that provides us with wonderful produce in our weekly farm share from June until November.

I am spoiled because I live three blocks from a vibrant cultural district that includes performance venues, quirky, fun shops and very good restaurants. There is a terrific bookstore that will order anything they don’t already have for you.

I am spoiled because in the cultural district there is a homemade ice cream store that makes everything from scratch and has spoiled me from ever buying commercially produced ice cream. The ice cream is the perfect balance between sweet, flavorful and creamy. When I try to substitute any other option, I am disappointed and can taste the sugar on my teeth.

I am spoiled because I live across the street from an 80-acre pond, an urban waterway, that is used year-round. In the spring, summer and fall it is for fishing and boating. There is ice fishing and skating in the winter. Ducks and geese nest there. Turtles lay their eggs in the spring and tiny turtles hatch at the end of the summer. On the other side of the pond is a municipal park, a greenspace that has woods and streams, playgrounds and facilities for recreation and sports.

I am spoiled because I live in a community that values open space and environmental protection. A local trust protects and preserves conservation areas for all of us. A wildlife sanctuary sprawls along the flood plain and is home to indigenous trees and plants, dozens of species of mammals as well as migratory and local bird populations.

I am spoiled because I can look out of my window and see the cliffs and contours of our mountain. It contains a state park that protects vulnerable species of plants, insects, reptiles, amphibians and animals from habitat destruction and development. It has dozens of trails and an observation tower that offers a spectacular view of the valley and migrating hawks in the fall.

I am spoiled because rivers run through my town. There is a large one that has become more beautiful by virtue of the clean water act and we swim in it in the summer and walk on its’ bank in all seasons. There are several smaller rivers that wind their way in and out of our neighborhoods and attract all kinds of wildlife, birds and people.

I am spoiled because I live within walking distance of a five-mile-long path that bisects my town and is perfect for walking, running and riding. The path is monitored and maintained by a civic group of biking enthusiasts.

I am spoiled because I am so used to living here that I often forget to count my blessings and I accept that there will be all of these benefits and many more—
safe streets, clean water, fresh air, sunshine, books to read, groceries to buy, friends to visit, church services to attend. It is probably even more beautiful of a place than I realize. It is (spoiler alert!) my home town, Easthampton, Massachusetts.