Tuesday, September 18, 2012

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam

It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon by the time we arrived in Sharpsburg, Maryland -- and headed straight for Antietam National Park. We quickly found ourselves mixed in with hundreds of like-minded folk and, after being directed to general parking near the north woods, headed off in search of our friend Mannie.

 Well, since he was nowhere to be found -- although there were rangers EVERYWHERE -- so we decided to stroll the battlefield and pay our respects. After all, that was the primary reason we had come -- and of course to catch up with our old Grand Rapids bud, too.

We eventually found Mannie holding forth at the Burnside (or lower) Bridge across Antietam Creek and we decided to rendezvous that evening for dinner at a pizza joint in Boonsboro, near his home.

Before dinner we checked into our hotel in Hagerstown and relaxed for an hour or so before plunging back out into night air. The evening slipped by as we chatted, met Susan at last, his main squeeze, and ate pizza. Just another night in rural western Maryland.

The following day, Monday, September 17, was the BIG DAY at the park, and Susie and I spent pretty much the entire day strolling the battlefield, beginning with a talk at the North woods. We then  ambled over to the Bloody Lane, wending our way through some of the new foot trails that now criss-cross the battlefield, and popped up at the Roulette Farm. From there we strolled through the cornfields, where so many federal troops had perished 150 years ago that day, and found ourselves in Bloody Lane. From there we climbed the tower for a birds-eye view of the lane and the much of the early part of the battle.

After strolling back to the visitor center and stopping at the bookstore (of course),  we picked a spot near the Maryland monument and across from the Dunker Church where we could listen to several speeches honoring those men who spent their final moments on earth in agony and anguish right where we were standing. Aside form thanking all the gods that ever walked the face of the earth for our good fortune,  we also thought how much we owe them, a debt that can never be repaid in full but only through installments in spirit and time.
The following morning we hit the road early, leaving Hagerstown, Sharpsburg, Mannie and the Civil War behind -- for the moment. We cruised through the rain all morning, and pointed the Mini north to I-81, then to I-76, I-287, recrossed the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson and bounced onto I-95 and buzzed into Providence.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Off to Antietam, Maryland

We got off to an early start on Saturday, September 15. 

Pulling out of the drive we turned left and headed for Route 10, and south to I-95. Not being the foolish type we exited the notorious BoWash Corridor as quickly as possible, sliding over to I-287 and crossing the Hudson on the Tappan Zee. From there it was a quick hop down into the wilds of western New Jersey as we searched high and low for Anna-Maria and Guy's new home. 

Well, it didn't really take too long before we were pulling off the highway and down a country lane and soon found ourselves the objects of the warmest of hospitality. After being given a tour around their campus -- for indeed that's what it appeared to me, with several studios, offices and a living space filled with light and warmth, of both senses and spirit, we sat down to a gracious lunch.

We spent a leisurely afternoon, sipping wine, eating homemade pizza and chatting about all the news, both that which is fit for print and everything else.

Before long we took our leave, after firm hugs and hesitant goodbyes -- hoping to see them in Europe, perhaps -- we turned the Mini around and headed back to the highway. Our next stop, New Garden, PA and Dick and Kathy.

The day continued sunny and radiant as we sped down the highway, racing to catch up with time, and before we could say "Ben Franklin slept here," we were pulling into their drive. 

We spent a wonderful evening, soaking up yet more hospitality, catching up on the news of the moment and feasted on steaks on the grill while we continued warming our spirits amidst friends not seen for far too long.

But, as they tell us in school, time stands still for no one and, after a leisurely Sunday morning of coffee and breakfast, we were back on the road. Still heading south we soon crossed into Maryland. We had a firm date with the past and while time doesn't stand still, sometimes it does come back around.

Next up, Antietam!

Monday, September 10, 2012

French Tarte at the Taste of Pawtucket

Well, the French Tarte has gone and done it again -- she recently donated several hundred shortbread cookies, chocolate hazelnut cakes and plum almond cakes to the "Taste of Pawtucket" food festival in, where else, Pawtucket, RI, a kickoff to the month-long Pawtucket Arts Festival. 

She was even on hand to hand out the goodies as folks from all over the city streamed through to taste some of the local food.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Pastry treats

From the French Tarte's kitchen, part of a special order she did recently: caramel, moscarpone profiteroles with fresh fruit!