Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Unexpected Surprise (guess that's redundant, huh?)

Essex, Connecticut

Cruising doesn't change you. It reveals you.*

The weather on this 25-day journey had been Chamber-of-Commerce perfect until we reached Essex. Fortunately, with radar at the touch of an iPhone, we had a good idea what to expect and that's why we picked this port. So the crew is having a couple of peaceful land days and Beth, in particular, made a huge discovery.

Traveling by boat  means the cruiser is dependent on foot once ashore.  The scope of the exploration territory is limited but one has a more in-depth view of things so you notice stuff you'd miss otherwise.

For example, the houses around downtown Essex have name plates naming the homes' first owner.

Friend and blog reader Marty Petty had encouraged us to stop in Essex, and we're grateful for the suggestion. She had been publisher of the Hartford Courant back in the day, and we've become pals since we first discovered we were Florida neighbors. Her husband, Mark Petty,  is a renowned photographer who shot a wedding on the Hepburn estate and the famous actress actually appeared straight from the garden.

Of Mice and Beth

But the happiest tourist to Essex in our group of four is Beth.

For years, she has been collecting mice. Not just any mice, but mice that cost more than an iPod Nano. She has so many of these things that her husband, Pat, built display cases that take up much of their second bedroom wall space.  We could retire on what these things are fetching on EBay these days.

As she walked down the main drag of Essex Beth spotted a faded circular sticker on the window of Gracie's Corner, a sprawling variety store with everything from magnetic bracelets to an entire section dedicated to pets.

And, drum roll, Wee Forest Folk, started by Annette Petersen in 1972  and now carried on by her sonWilly and daughter Donna Petersen (who know a good schtick when they see it).

Wee Forest Folk pieces are first created then the original is cast into white ware. There is a booklet describing the process, but for those of you hankering to know more about these collectables:

Turns out, Beth grew up in Concord, MA where founding mouse-maker Annette began the cottage industry. Beth was a high school classmate of Donna Petersen, Annette's daughter.

Beth has been collecting the Wee Forest Folk ever since she first discovered them in 1973.

I've not been much of a collector of small ceramic things or anything other than technology gadgets (so I have no room to talk about obsessive compulsive behavior) but I must admit, upon close examination of these little things, it is impressive to see the amount of detail in the little critters.

Photo from the company website

You know you're a cruiser....

You know you're a cruising woman when you have your hair cut so short you don't need a hairdryer.


* A tip of the visor to Michelle Obama for her line from her convention speech last night (The presidency doesn't change you; it reveals you). It's great to have XM radio on board and be able to listen to unfiltered audio of the proceedings on the POTUS station.

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