|Grand opening this weekend!! What a great new life for a terrific place.|
But on Mom's adventures, the idea was to discover unusual places (like the store on Route 23 in northern New Jersey that sold only buttons -- gallon JARS of buttons for sale!), special waterfalls (hidden ones are best), and places that connected with George Washington, General Lafayette, and "Mad" Anthony Wayne, all easy enough to find in north Jersey, crammed with Revolutionary War battlegrounds. And, incidentally, one "should" get lost.
Unfortunately, Mom's "direction bump," as she called it, kept her from ever getting truly lost. I think that was the biggest regret that she ever expressed around the group of us! Of course, it was also a source of pride and cheerful enjoyment.
When I first drove a car myself through St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and saw the Maple Grove syrup plant and the gift shop called the Farmer's Daughter -- sometime in 1978 -- I had a moment of déja vu. Surely I had been here before? And entered those doors?
I had indeed. Perhaps in 1956 or 1957! I recall the scent of small pillows of balsam needles, and tiny pillars of pine incense one could burn at a campsite to (hopefully) keep away bugs. I remember being barely tall enough to see what was on the shelves.
For a while last year, it looked as though the lifetime of the Farmer's Daughter had ended, and I mourned. Even with that crazy sign out front (the one that makes my Inner Feminist cringe -- I'm not showing it here), I love the place. My mom wouldn't have wanted to see it pass away.
But this spring, oh glorious news, the Cushman family has leased the building and the gift shop business, provided a fresh version of the "fresh" sign outside, added ice cream and homemade fudge (really, they are making it themselves!), and brought back the happy site with fresh paint, baskets of flowers, even a young goat in a neat little barn outside. I am SO happy!
I can feel my mother peeking over my shoulder. She says, "See, we came here when you were little. I love you, honey. Let's get ice cream cones and buy one of those postcards and maybe that jigsaw puzzle in case it rains later. And then we'll get back into the car and get lost. When we've had enough, we'll go back to the campsite and write a poem about this place."
Love you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day of the heart.
(Joan Lancy Palmer Minden, 1927-1981; a New Englander forever, even as she raised us on a mountain in New Jersey.)