No, it wasn’t Christmas, but Thanksgiving in Connecticut was lovely and relaxing. Higganum is roughly the size of Paramus NJ or that of the town I grew up in, Natick, Mass. However, the populations of each are ~ 5,000, ~ 36,000 and ~ 33,000, respectively. For perspective’s sake, the town we currently live in is ~ 75% smaller, 2.3 square miles, than those towns, with a population of ~ 25,000. Yes, we’re rather close in Lodi.
Higganum, which lies on the Connecticut River, is a ‘village’ in Haddam just south of Middletown and is considered mid-state. As I thought the town was smack dab in the middle of nowhere, I was pleasantly surprised to find it a 20 minute ride to the ocean.
The timing of our arrival and that of the bird’s cooking clashed and we made our entrance just ahead of dinner which was excellent and had some new twists on classic Thanksgiving fare. Dessert was yummy and my pie a success. Other sweet delights included pumpkin and pecan pies, the pecan was fantastic, and a chocolate cream pie, which came to the festivities from Middletown, CT, via Massachusetts.
On Friday, we ventured to the Florence Griswold Museum, the ‘home of American Impressionism,’ in Old Lyme and then went to the beach for lunch. The Museum was decked out for Christmas and had an exhibit from post-Depression era photographer, Walker Evans.
Not knowing the name, I was pleasantly surprised to recognize numerous images.
The remainder of the grounds included a main house, barn, and gardens that meander along the Lieutenant River. Loving historical homes and period furniture, I went to the house and was taken aback by the abrasive and somewhat militant little old lady giving the ‘tour’ (come on, there are 4 rooms and you can’t really go into 3 of them). Interestingly, the main floor features a series of ~ 40 ‘painted panels’ on various doors and in the dining room. Painted throughout the early 1900s, Old Lyme Art Colony members began decorating select panels and it was considered an honor to be chosen to paint a panel.
It could be argued that, without knowing it, these artists were living an epicurean lifestyle. It was not uncommon for new comers to be welcomed into the dining room with a flurry of activity as chairs were shuffled to make room at the table. And, on summer evenings, the artists would escape the heat of the house by dining on the side porch. What started with a handful of bachelors, ‘jackets removed and sleeves rolled up’, the entire community eventually joined the group. Soon, they named themselves the ‘Hot Air Club’ for both the weather and the lively conversation that inevitably ensued.
We ended our afternoon at Hammonasset State Park. I love the beach, especially in the off-season. We had turkey sandwiches (what could be better than a day after Thanksgiving sandwich?), watched some polar bear fools dive into the ocean (albeit, the water probably wasn’t that cold), and visited the Meigs Point Nature Center, effectively, a tiny building with some indigenous critters on display.
The remainder of the weekend was spent in Lodi, baking and rearranging the living room furniture. More importantly, we finished our annual Christmas letter and began plotting some Connecticut culinary adventures.