Tuesday, July 12, 2011

LOFT LIFE: Uncle Sandy and Aunt Gail

I have told you how much we love the Mystic, CT area. We escape there whenever possible. It is a great adventure to discover all the town and its surroundings have to offer.
This time, we shopped in Olde Mystick Village, where we purchased some wonderful new kitchen items, and I perused books about local color, and learned, for instance that Pepperidge Farm is a Connecticut icon. I always thought it had a great taste, but didn’t know the history of the farm. From now on, whenever my commercial choices are limited, I will patronize this farm’s products. Reading the ingredients, amazingly, it isn’t really a bad choice. (I am considering, however, just bypassing chemicals, additives, and highly processed “whole grain” bread available commercially, and making my own bread. I’m now doing that with yogurt and will never look back. No sugar, no preservatives: live food. So delicious.)
But, enough about me. 
We ate at Ten Clams again, where no dish is more than $10, hence the name. Jay had a sirloin steak with potatoes and mixed vegetables, which for that price was quite a good value and was delicious (of course I did my usual, I don’t want that, I’ll just have a bite of yours).
We spent a day at Foxwoods, exploring the small city there and playing a little and enjoying $1 coffees and juice. July 4th, we did Mystic Seaport, where restoration work on the Charles W. Morgan whaleship, the last wooden whale ship in the world, is coming along nicely. This time we also attended the planetarium show, Saturn being up close this time of year, and it was very informative and fun.
The highlight of the trip for me was meeting the Beechers: Sandy and Gail, who own the Roseledge Herb Farm. (www.roseledge.com)
I always research the B&B market, and this time, decided Roseledge looked good. They sounded friendly, the reviews were good, and the description of the fresh farm breakfast sounded irresistible, with ingredients fresh from their own gardens.
The first afternoon, I was looking for a book in their library and have always wanted to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, so seeing a copy on their bookshelf off of the lovely dining area overlooking the lush herb garden, I picked it up. I began reading by the sunlit window at the front of this cozy historic property.

When I mentioned how much I was enjoying the book, Gail pointed out a tidbit I had completely missed--Beecher, as in Harriet Beecher Stowe, was a relative of her husband’s. Talk about a Connecticut icon!

It’s amazing how once you make this sort of connection, how much more meaningful everything around you becomes. I was reading a historic book, by an author who truly changed the world, right in the presence of one of her descendants.   
I drank in the story Harriet Beecher tells, so much more appreciative of the parts about New England, which might have just been a blip without my new knowledge of her Connecticut roots. She had been steeped in the New England culture, so her contrast of that upbringing with that of those in the Deep South, where her story is situated, were all the more impacting.
Those of you who have read this masterpiece, please forgive me for my newness to this. But, as I read, I can’t help but find myself worshipping God for the Christian spirit with which this author calls out to us all, a call to action and a change of heart.
As I read St. Clare’s soliloquies, especially, my soul can hardly be contained with the mixture of sorrow and wisdom she imparts through him. It changes me deeply. If you have read it, many years ago, I implore you to re-read it and to gain from it a new perspective, you may not have had many years ago.
I also think of Karthryn Stockett’s recent bestseller, The Help, which moved me in much the same way for its telling of the ‘60s of our own time and, sadly seeing how little progress we actually had made in cultural attitudes, since Harriet Beecher’s storytelling.

Roseledge Herb Farm, the property itself, did not belong to Harriet’s family’s, yet, nevertheless, is steeped in a history, both from its original owner, John Meech, and from the heritage Sandy and Gail bring to it. I'm sure, they are in a long line of appreciative Connecticut patriots, which I also am becoming.
In any case, the book absorbed me every afternoon, as I sat by my sunny window, with Indoor Cat at my neck, and a tall glass of fresh lemonade or a wonderful glass of Merlot at my side. There were also fresh cookies, and leftover blueberry breakfast muffins in the afternoon, which, unfortunately, I could not resist.
Gail had greeted us from her work in the garden on the first hot, humid afternoon, and I thought she looked a bit embarrassed to have been “caught” before she could get herself in the hostess mode. She seemed apologetic, and maybe tired. What she didn’t know was how endearing this was. This place was obviously a lot of work for two people: the home, the restoration, the gardening, the harvesting, the meal planning, the cooking, the serving, and the cleaning, not to mention running the business itself with all that requires. But, what we saw was the loving and caring they both showed, and we appreciated that it was all for us--and their other guests.
This lodging truly felt like a home, and I will consider it one of our homes away from home in future trips to Mystic.