Saturday, August 5, 2017

Postcards from a Lake House: Out and About

Last weekend we visited friends who have a lake house in Connecticut, and did a little shopping and sightseeing in the area.

Our first stop was this farm stand, which was in the middle of the farm, not on the road, as most are. Most of the vegetables are kept in covered bins. You lift their lids to see what's left, help yourself, and pay on the honor system. Everything was delicious: tomatoes, peaches, peas, and lettuce.

Chickens on the farm:

As we drove home, we saw a neighbor on a bike who flagged us down, looking perturbed. She said she'd been riding along earlier when a black bear raced across the road just in front of her. It didn't see her, which was good, but it might have hit her had she been farther along.

I decided I needed to see a bear. I became more alert to my surroundings.

On Saturday morning, we were heading to a plant nursery having a half-price sale when we stopped at an estate sale on the way. (Being alert, I saw the sign.) There was a lot of depressing furniture and intriguing power tools. Also an extensive collection of albums, 33s, 45s, and 78s. We resisted, although there was a stack of Russian gypsy music, which I like, along with a few "madeleines" — Alan Sherman ("Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh"), Herb Alpert ("Whipped Cream and Other Delights"), Herman's Hermits.

Our friend was drawn to a heavy drill-press, although she already has one; she is handy. It was $25, so I suggested offering $20, and they hauled it to her car. (My husband got a nifty measuring tape with a level for $2.)

At the nursery, mugs of cut sunflowers were busy with bees:

Fresh, local lavender bundles:

The owners told us they'd watched two male bears fighting just up the road a few days before. One was estimated to be 600 pounds but the other was a youngster, only about 300 pounds. Bears grow to be huge in New England, perhaps because we have so much nice garbage.

I really wanted to see a bear, or preferably two. At a safe distance. Instead I saw lots of plants I couldn't recognize. I think this must be allium, but of normal size, not the crazy-big ones they plant in the Public Garden:

When the gardener rolled a cartload of plants to the car, he spotted the drill press in the back and exclaimed over it. He wanted it. Our friend told him what she'd paid and he wanted it even more. So she traded it for some plants and we filled her car:

On the way home we stopped in Falls Village and watched the Great Falls:

Three men were swimming just below the falls. It seemed like a good place for bears to hang out, but no. Back at the house, I kept looking out the windows and scanning the woods from the porches without success.

On Sunday morning, there were no bears in Millerton, New York, when made a pilgrimage to the Harney's Tea Shop. I've long wanted to go there: we enjoy their teas and I hoped to get some blends that aren't sold around Boston.

There's a small room where they sell loose teas from giant canisters behind a wooden counter — just as they do at Mariages Frères in Paris. Our friend, a longtime Harney's fan, told us that one of the Harney sons married a Frenchwoman who does marketing had a big impact the family business. I've noticed similarities to Mariages Frères and I approve.

But Harney's does Mariages Frères one better. While we were there, a Harney son and another employee were at the counter, not only discussing various teas with customers but also brewing samples for them to taste. Harney's sells sample packets of loose tea for $2 (enough for about three cups of tea) so one can afford to explore and be adventurous.

We had to restrain ourselves because we'd recently stuffed out cupboard with tea from Paris. So we mostly bought samples, including Red Hot Cinnamon Spice (by far their best-selling tea; we had to see what the fuss is about), Soho, a tea with chocolate flavors, and a few others. And then we saw this wall and caved and bought tins of "Scottish Afternoon" and "Vanilla Black."

These days I usually buy our Harney's online; they have an informative website and shipping is often free. But it was great to talk face-to-face with an expert and sniff and see and taste some teas.

There is a two-story antiques coop in Millerton with some interesting stuff:

I admire creative taxidermy but a mountain goat and a boulder require a special living room — not mine. They are not sold separately, alas.

The three of each remembered some of these Life magazine covers, which were always piled on my parents' sofa table the way New Yorkers pile up on mine. I remember thinking, as a child, that Ann Margret should have brushed her hair before her cover shoot. I knew better than that.

On the drive back to the house I looked hard for bears, but I never saw any.


  1. Beautiful photos! The waterfall is lovely.

  2. We have a home in upstate New York where bears do regularly visit- this year they found my small sour cherry tree which was spectacularly full of just ripe cherries- and broke it in half to eat every last one. In the past, they broke into our dining room via window screen, walked into the kitchen, ate a blueberry poundcake, and left with no further damage---luckily, we were out! Anne C

  3. You want to see a bear about as much as you want to see a Christmas tree in the middle of the highway.. It sounds like a good idea until you see 600lbs of bear


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