Jeannine and I took what I hope is the first of many "short vacation" trips this past week, driving up into Vermont and staying one night in Manchester and three nights in Shelburne. The main impetus for the trip was something we have talked about from time to time over the last twenty years or so, but for some reason just never got it together to actually DO -- and that was to make a return trip to the wonderful Shelburne Museum.
It was about twenty years ago that we got on my Gold Wing and headed north, accompanied by our friends Pat and Ed, also on their Gold Wing, for our first visit to the Shelburne Museum. I can't recall whose idea it was, but I am glad we went. The Museum is essentially one woman's somewhat eclectic collection of "Americana", encompassing a wide array of art and artifacts ranging from handmade quilts to carriages to glass canes to dolls to tools, and beyond. I think there are something like forty buildings on the site, and only few of them were built there, the others having been purchased and moved to the museum grounds. There is even a ship, a paddle-wheel steamer which used to ply the waters of Lake Champlain. In 1954 it was moved overland two miles to a permanent dry berth on land at the Museum site. Here's a shot of that ship, the Ticonderoga.
The Museum has a great deal of stuff to look at, and unlike the last time we were there, when we didn't, for some reason, take ANY photos, this time we took LOTS. (That first visit was before digital cameras, which partly explains the lack of photo taking.) One of the first things we saw was a new exhibit of quilts made by people who have had a loved one suffer from Alzheimer's. I was blown away by this one -- an impressionistic image of a ballerina.
Looking more closely, I was even more impressed to see how the artist had crafted the effect, using small swatches of different colored fabric, all careful sewn in just the right places.
I remembered that one thing I loved from our first visit was an old school sleigh -- not a bus with wheels, but a sleigh for use in the winter. It was small -- probably could only carry ten kids or so -- and actually had a small stove inside it for warmth! Clearly nothing that would pass safety regulations today.
But the two things I really wanted to see again, and which did not fail to impress, much as they had done when we'd seen them the first time, were the circus and the circus parade. These exhibits are housed in a U-shaped building, with the circus taking up the first arm of the U. It is an amazing thing -- all hand-carved and painted over the course of forty years by a father for his children. The figures generally stand about four inches high, and it is a complete three-ring circus. It is an amazing sight. (That's Jeannine on the left in the first photo, having her mind boggled.)
Taking up the rest of the building is a circus parade, again all carved in wood, and the inspiration of one man (though he had some help with the work). Horse, camels, elephants, wagons, clowns, horses and riders -- they're all there, and beautifully, realistically rendered. I took over a hundred and thirty photos of the parade, and I think I got all of the pieces. Here are just a few of them.
For lodging, I managed to stumble across (in an online search) the Shelburne Farms Inn, originally the residence of the woman who started the collection that became the Shelburne Museum. It is quite the place -- right on Lake Champlain, with many acres around it of great natural beauty. There is a working farm on the property which provides the Inn's kitchen with some very fresh ingredients for their very yummy meals. (I managed to put on a couple of pounds while staying there for three days!)
Much like I did when we were in Maine this year, each day I tried to do a drawing, and I found some great rocks and dead trees down by the lake. I was fascinated by the strata exposed by erosion at lakeside. Here's a view from down by the lake, looking back towards the south end of the Inn. Our room looked out over this view.
There are a few more things about this trip that I want to post, but I'll do that tomorrow or the next day. -- PL