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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mystic Seaport: An Afternoon Escape

On Monday, Memorial Day, Chuck and I spent a few wonderful hours at Mystic seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. To visit Mystic Seaport is to step back in time, to the seafaring days of whaling ships and small seaside New England towns in 1876. People in period costumes wander the dirt streets while a horse drawn buggy transports guests around the village. This is one of Chuck's favorite places to visit. Going to Mystic Seaport allows one to escape the everyday hustle and bustle of computers and television, and be transported back to the late 19th century and a simpler life. Each Memorial Day for the past 3 or 4 years, we have visited Mystic Seaport and participated in a very solemn but beautiful ceremony which includes a church service and laying of a wreath in the waters of the Mystic River to remember the soldiers who died in the civil war.I can't help but wonder how the reenactors can stand the heat, all dressed up in what would have been their Sunday finest. Or how the women and men who actually lived in those days could have withstood it as well. There is also a Lobster Fest on the grounds at the edge of the village underneath a wooden shed. For a reasonable fee, guests can enjoy a lobster, ear of corn on the cob, cole slaw, and lemonade or iced tea. If you leave a $1 deposit for a lobster cracker, you can turn the cracker back in for a large chocolate chip or sugar cookie for dessert.Inside the shed, which has open sides so diners can see beautiful views of the river and old sailing ships, people sit at long wooden tables covered with red and white checkered tablecloths and eat their lobster meals. Wine and beer can be purchased for an extra fee. For those of us who don't like lobster, there is a double hot dog meal, also with corn on the cob and cole slaw, that can be purchased instead. I am one that likes tradition, and this is a tradition that has become very enjoyable to us as a couple.We start at the church for the service, follow a parade of townsfolk to the water's edge for the laying of the wreath, and then head down to the Lobster Festival. There's a wonderful camaraderie between guests under the shed as we all enjoy a delicious meal together outside at the water's edge. After lunch, there is always plenty to do and see. Mystic Seaport has many old village buildings to visit, centered around a central green, with a gazebo. The buildings include houses, a blacksmith shop, a chapel and a church, a boat maker's shop, grocery store,schoolhouse ( 1 room, of course), and a tavern. There are also museum buildings which house a variety of retired figureheads that used to grace the front of whaling ships, old portraits, scrimshaw, and the like. There's also a children's art room,a planetarium, and of course, not only one gift shop, but two! Once you have been to Mystic Seaport a few times, you pretty much have seen everything, except that exhibits do change periodically throughout the year. One of the best things about knowing the Seaport so well is that you don't have to be in a hurry when you go there on frequent visits.We are members so once you pay the annual membership fee, you can go back to visit the village as many times as you like for free throughout the year. On Monday, we enjoyed a nice leisurely stroll down the streets, stopping to sit on a bench in one of the backyard gardens of a historic home. We visited a home that I don't even remember touring before and saw a one room millinery shop of the woman of the house, one of the first of many women who worked from home in our great country. We sat on a bench in the sunshine on the green and listened to sailor shanty songs from the reenactors.We watched some Seaport workers and guests, old and young, play an old fashioned game of baseball with period bats and balls, and NO gloves...ouch! And we enjoyed each others company while the breeze coming off the river kept us cool in the sunshine. I took a lot of pictures, and at some point, I may be able to figure out how to put them on this blog! All in all, it was a wonderful, relaxing late Spring day that we were able to enjoy together without the aid of technology, but with the aid of Mother Nature, good food, and a historic treasure: Mystic Seaport.

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