Sometimes, it’s just the little things that get you the most excited. It’s like a surprisingly wonderful French Toast at the Gray Jay restaurant in Burlington, Vermont ( OK, a shameless commercial for a place I like!). Or a wonderful morning at a museum.
It was the museum that made the day. Just outside of Burlington is the Shelburne Museum, and visiting there was a decade-long goal. But routes, jobs, and travels just never matched up. Finally, my sons arranged a “guys’ weekend out” for my birthday, and Shelburne was on the agenda. At the top of my agenda was the Ticonderoga, a completely landlocked Lake Champlain steamship restored to impeccable glory. I looked into the staterooms, the officer’s quarters, and an incredibly familiar Fo’casle ( forecastle to you lubbers). The pipe racks ( beds to you flatlanders) were almost identical to those I slept on in the Navy. At the beginning of a deployment, you might wet down the canvas bottom to conform to your body. Under the mattress, you could carefully press a uniform into regulation creases, including underwear. More memories came into play at the next stop as we inspected the boiler. At age ten, my dad, a marine engineer, had me assist in re-tubing the old steam plant that heated our apartment building. It was close enough in design that my dad’s advice on shoveling coal onto an established coal fire returned, and I could almost see the scintilla of hot coals in the old firebox.
Woodcarving is one of my things, so we next visited the galleries with the carvings. The Shelburne had many items I was completely unfamiliar with or had only seen in photos. Downloading a photo from the internet is vastly different than seeing the original. As a carver, I’m probably as interested in the details of construction and carving as I am in the total work itself. For that, there is nothing like an actual viewing.
The Shelburne has thousands of interesting pieces in its collection; I’ve only mentioned the few I was most excited by. I admit to being a museum freak, have memberships in several museums, and will hunt out interesting places on my travels. But this was truly someplace special.