Alas, no vicarious rides for AI/theI, who goes for the Bar exam tomorrow. Ack. But I have every confidence in AI’s ability to pass. Above and beyond that, he’s going to make a great PD. And he’s made the call on this year’s Tour. (Floyd Landis – who’d have thought?) So, even with his mighty prognosticative powers – send happy thoughts to AI/theI on Monday.
Lyco came up from VA to visit and we had tentatively planned a ride. However, the weather was not really optimal and our time was very limited. So we chilled for most of the weekend and did central CT things. Normally I don’t push central CT things on visitors as they’re close to home and thus subjectively devalued and gooberish sounding to my ears. Instead of staying here I’m eager to rush off to Providence, Boston, NH, etc., but short lived trips are often spend out of the car, not traveling to a place to travel to another place to see something interesting. And CT does have very interesting geology, hiking, fauna, flora, and under the radar institutions that one only appreciates if one’s been away for a bit.
On her first day, I had to work, but I took a long(ish) lunch and showed her some of New Haven while we ate at Claire’s and Lyco spent the afternoon researching at Quinnipiac. When I went to pick her up a white hawk flew slowly overhead (about 15 feet overhead) us in the parking lot. It sort of set the tone for unusual oddities that might only take some attention on the world to appreciated. We meandered back to central CT, stopping here and there on the way. We then attempted to go out for Italian but left too late and found most places closed. We did get to bicycle around on the new Raleigh and Lumina though, so we technically did log a ride, albeit a slow one, late at night, through the streets of this small citytown. Upon arriving home we made a meal of smoked oysters, fresh bread, and a quasi salsa of tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, cucumbers, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Everything except the vinegar and olive oil came out of our mutual gardens.
On Sat. the morning weather looked pretty good – so we got up early to do some driving/walking. It was a food fest. The day began at my local breakfast shack, where I introduced Lyco to Ken’s famous ginger pancakes. She said they were like warm gingersnap cookies in pancake form, drizzled with syrup. Then, on the way to our hiking destination, we stopped and picked some blueberries. MMMmmmm. Blueberries. Then we hit up the famous Polish Bakery and got a pastry for our hike.
On the hike the weather was moderately blah – rain, drizzle, haze, etc. At least the rain brought out the colors of the moss and rocks and tree trunks, and it wasn’t *too* chilly, although it almost seemed so when a breeze would cut across wet skin. Nonetheless Lyco and I tramped about in the woods. It was a good field test for my new chacos, which I highly recommend and which fit my oddly shaped feet (see a few posts below). They were super grippy on cliff-side conditions, easy in the streams. We’d been hiking for awhile and commenting on all the fungi that had popped up due to the recent rains, bright orange and purple and glowing green little guys, puffballs, all sorts of things, when we came across the weekend culinary delight of delights:
Scoplaw: So, these little guys that are everywhere. I know them. They’re. . .
Lyco: . . .Black Trumpets!
Pause while this sinks in, followed by lots of snatching. We surreptitiously harvested many of these and worked them into a delicious mushroom/grits/eggs dish the next morning (I have let the remainder of this dry and will fry it up and eat it like polenta later in the week).
During mushroom harvesting we got a bit lost (looking at ground while walking). This was a moderately new experience for me, as I almost never get lost in the woods, even without compass and map (both of which we’d left in the car.) The census kind of drilled me into being very careful of where I was and going point to point to point when reworking maps. While looking at the ground we also came across this mineral that I couldn’t name – it was white, shale-like in its layering, cubic, iridescent. It was very light, appeared to be brittle, but was not. I’m still at a loss. We also came across a lot of Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) – a pretty flower that has no chlorophyll. It looks like something you’d expect to see on the ocean floor.
The mushrooms were easy to spot (in fact, I just got back from another small jaunt to the woods to grab another double handful which is being cooked, as I type, with tilapia, red wine, garlic, pepper, and garden oregano.) Let me tell you, black trumpets pack quite a punch, but they’re surprisingly easy to work with. The saddest moment on our hike came when we stumbled on a field of dead trumpets. I could have filled a big brown grocery bag with them, had we only arrived a few days earlier.
After we left the woods, we drove around and, among other things, I took the oppertunity to introduce a hungry Lyco to my favorite calamari place (in central CT). Normally my saying that prompts a cocked head and a quizzical expression.
Scoplaw: “There’s this really great place for calamari in Colchester.”
Conversational Other (cocking head, no doubt thinking of all the great port cities and their restaurants): “Uh, yeah.”
Scoplaw: “No, I mean it’s really good. Really, really good. I’ve had Calamari in some good places, but this is the best.”
Conversational Other (cocking head, no doubt thinking of all the great port cities and their restaurants): “Uh. . .yeah.”
I have similar experiences when telling people that the UCONN Law campus is quite scenic and located in a cute little neighborhood, that I’ve had some of the best sushi in my life in South Windsor, or that I’d rather do small/mid firm life in Providence than big firm in N.Y.C. (even if I can cash out quickly and move to a smaller market). I’ll let Lyco tell you if the calamari was worth the small side trip.
Today we did a quick breakfast (aforementioned grits/eggs/mushrooms) and I took Lyco over to the Mark Twain House before she hit the road. I’d not been to the Twain House in years, so it was nice to see the new museum building and go on the tour. Twain is such an interesting and important writer for me. For what it’s worth, I tend to like his earlier writing (Innocents Abroad) and his later, darker work (The War Prayer/Letters From Earth). Not that his middle period (Sawyer, CT Yankee, Huck Finn) isn’t great – because it is. I just prefer the slightly rawer, slightly darker Sam.
As always, the trip to the Twain House makes me wonder where Hartford went wrong. It’s easy to blame the automobile, then the highway, then white flight (into the bastion of West Hartford), but it’s harder to say why nothing seems to work to revive the city. I could write about that for a few days straight, but I’ve a fish to eat.