Thursday, August 3, 2017

Loving the Last Green Valley

I can't walk very far these days.  Can't drive, either.  But I can take a ride in the passenger seat of a car.  Joe and I took a beauty of a drive the other day, exploring Connecticut's National Heritage Corridor, also known as The Last Green Valley.

We followed the valley of the Quinebaug River and its tributaries north from the old mill town of Norwich, Connecticut, and through a number of quiet former mill villages up into Massachusetts.

The mills are mostly gone now, leaving economic devastation in their wake.  The National Heritage Corridor rebrands the area, focusing on its natural beauty, among other things.  The Last Green Valley is promoted as a place for hiking, paddling,, and pedaling,, among other activities.

I wasn't in any kind of shape to do any of that, and in fact I'm not sure I even knew about those potential activities, or even the Last Green Valley designation itself.  The idea for the drive just came about as a non-physical way to enjoy a sunny summer afternoon.

And it was great.  It included the legendary and lovely Logee's Greenhouses in the borough of Danielson.

This is Bougainvillea Orange Fiesta at Logee's.  It's the only photo I took that day, because I didn't set out to record and blog about the trip.  Phooey.  I wish I had.  Then there would be so much more to show you.  This one image gives you a little idea of the atmosphere and appearance of Logee's  greenhouses.  There's an ancient ficus pumila, a creeping fig, running all along its walls. Verdant.

From Danielson, we wended our way north through the Quinebaug Valley, past roadsides of Queen Anne's lace, orange wild lilies, and tall  mulleins, with their felted silver leaves and stately spikes of yellow flowers.

Have you ever been to Putnam?  This former mill town rebranded itself as an antiques center a couple decades ago, and I've been there more than once to ogle the Craftsman era antiques.

The Antiques Marketplace in Putnam looks as if it was repurposed from a local department store.

There are three floors of antiques in there.  Joe and I have a few pieces of Craftsman-style furniture in our home.  I'm very drawn to the furniture, furnishings, and architecture of the Craftsman era. I thiink that's because my grandparents had a Morris chair, an early version of a recliner, and I associate that kind of dark heavy furniture with grandparents and stability and home.

My grandparents, William Cadrain and Lillian Tanguay Cadrain, in the room they called The Little Room. My grandmother is seated in a Morris chair.

I also love green glass, and my sister Jerol, The Flea Market and Garage Sale Queen of the Tri-State Area, bought a ton of it for me.  I don't have a photo of my entire collection, but I do have this photo showing my green glass at work at of our Seder dinner in 2017 :

That Saturday, in Putnam, hobbling around on my cane, I saw a piece of green glass I wanted.  I don't know anything about its value or history, but it was inexpensive and I liked it so I bought it.

As the summer afternoon mellowed into evening, we made our way to Willimantic, CT, which has gone farther than any of the other mill towns in reinventing itself. Once The Thread City, Willimantic has repurposed its mills into housing and its streets into a vibrant restaurant scene.  It probably doesn't hurt that the town is also home to Eastern Connecticut State University.  The dark underside:  the town faced a heroin epidemic in the not too distant past.  I'm not up on that piece of its history.  The Willimantic I saw was vibrant.

For dinner, Joe and I chose the Cafe Mantic, where I had an heirloom tomato salad and a crabcake and Joe had Stonington sea scallops.  Delicious

I only took one photo at Cafe Mantic.  This one:

We got home to our dogs in the early evening.  I'd do this drive again, and again.  Maybe next time I'll even be able to do some hiking:


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