Sunday, February 20, 2011

2011 New Thing 2. Visit the Snowflake Bentley Museum

I always resent Saint Michael's College in January when everyone else celebrates Martin Luther King, Dr Day as a holiday except us.  But in February, when we get not only President's Day but the Tuesday after it off, I'm always mighty happy.  For this four-day weekend, I realized I didn't really have a burning desire to go away, and so I decided to do what thousands of other people do in the winter, namely, be a tourist in Vermont.  And so, yesterday I finally did a new thing I've been wanting to do for a while, and that is drive to nearby Jericho to visit the Snowflake Bentley Museum there.

As is often the case, my friend and colleague Paul was not only totally up for going, he had some great ideas to make the whole excursion better.  For one, we decided that we should definitely visit another Jericho institution, the Village Cup, for some brunch beforehand.  If I'd been thinking, when I was setting up my challenges for the year, I should have put "try every breakfast/brunch place in Vermont" for one of them.  But that would hardly have been a challenge because I LOVE going out to breakfast, so that would be cheating, really.  Nevertheless, anytime I can sneak a new breakfast place into a Challenge or New Thing, you know I'm going to.  The Village Cup is a great space, with terrific food (at least the baked goods, because that's as far as I went before setting on a delightful brown sugar maple scone), and as you can see from the unfortunately dark picture of Paul, great views of the river outside.

Clearly, another challenge I'd better take on sooner than later is learning to work with my photos to lighten them up.  But even with such a dark image, you can see what an awesome view we had inside the Village Cup.

Outside shot of the Village Cup.  The day before it had been so warm (50s) that my ski plans with Alexsis got cancelled because it was raining (raining!) at Smugg's.  But the next day, it was just as cold as it looks in this pic outside.
After our brunch, we headed across the street to the Snowflake Bentley Museum, which is housed in a beautiful converted mill.

Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley was born in 1865 and lived in Jericho his entire life.  He taught himself how to take micro photos of snowflakes with a microscope and a camera.  He used to make cross images like the one pictured here as wedding presents for his friends and family

In his lifetime, Snowflake Bentley produced more than 5000 microphotographs of snow crystals like the five here, and they were widely published in National Geographic and many other magazines and publications.

The Museum and Gift Shop are housed in a converted mill -- definitely worth a visit!

After our Snowflake Bentley visit, Paul introduced me to a couple other great hidden gems that I had never known existed a little further up the road in Jeffersonville. The first is the Bryan Memorial Gallery, and the second is the Jeffersonville Falls.  Although there is unfortunately a sign up in the Gallery asking people not to take pictures, I can only say that for anyone who thinks Vermont is a beautiful place, this Gallery is a must.  It's devoted to Vermont landscapes and I wandered around thinking how lucky the artists are for having been able to capture on canvass so many scenes of familiar beauty to those of us who are lucky enough to live here.  I had been equally ignorant to the existence of the Jeffersonville Falls, which are lovely in winter, but according to Paul, are a prime swimming spot in the summer.
The Bryan Memorial Gallery was created in 1984 by Alden Bryan as a memorial to his wife, Mary. If you think Vermont is a beautiful place, you must check out the landscapes featured in this gallery.

Paul standing in front of the rapids of the falls.  In the summer he says you can hike upstream for all kinds of great swimming and picnicking spots.

Some of the rapids in winter. 

Bonus shot -- just before the turnoff for the state park where the falls are is a farmhouse featuring these ice sculptures.  Pretty cool-looking as you're driving on the way to Smugg's, but this is the first time I got to get out and have a closer look.
So, there it is.  Another great weekend day in Vermont and the second new thing for 2011.  I'm going cross country skiing with some friends and colleagues at Bolton in a couple hours and Tuesday I'll be skiing at Smuggs with Alexsis and some other students and Tuesday night is our crepe cook-a-thon so there will certainly be another challenge update then.  Hope everyone is having a great President's Day Weekend and enjoying the outdoors, wherever they are.

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