Of course, in line withe the old saying that for every door that closes, a window opens, circumstances have also dictated two new challenges, one for this summer and one starting in September and running into 2012. They have both been caused by the exciting opportunity that opened up with the Fulbright award to Jordan for the 2011-12 school year. Thus, the new official Challenges are: first, to wring every ounce of summer possible from this Summer in Vermont and second, to spend an entire school year teaching in a new place (specifically, the University of Jordan).
This first challenge means that I want to do every uniquely Vermont thing I can this summer -- hiking and biking new trails, trying out new and old sports on Lake Champlain and exploring the nooks and crannies and villages of Vermont I may have overlooked in the past. And so I began the Challenge in earnest last weekend when I celebrated National Train Day by taking the train from Burlington to Bellows Falls, and visited Saxton's River (where Chris's mom, gracious mom, Ingrid, hosted us and kept up the traditional of serving some of the best food I've ever had) and Grafton, home of Chris's former employer, Sue, and site of the Vermont Museum of Mining and Minerals. I come from a family of museum lovers, and that love has been nurtured in large part by my sister Katrinka being a professional museum consultant and content developer. I especially love local museums, particularly when I know the people who helped create and fill them. So I had been dying to see the Museum of Mining and Minerals because Sue founded it and Chris helped set it up, and additionally built a number of the rock structures in it. Last weekend they were adding the newest rock installment, a fairy-sized house made of agate and other stones. This joined the fairy mine and lapidary (if you're not sure what that is, check out the picture below) and a new set of stunning geodes. Here's a fun set of pictures from the museum.
|A close-up of the fairy lapidary|
|Did you know that garnet is the Vermont state gem? If you want to see a fabulous set in all its different forms and levels of processing, come to Grafton to see the museum sometime.|
|The state gemstone, and the state mineral, talc (shown above), were officially declared by the Vermont State legislature following a campaign initiated by Sue.|
|Here are Chris and Sue, with Chris's newest work, the agate house, between them.|
|A close up of the agate house. All the pieces were hand cut -- my favorite is the perfectly-matched stone shingles on the roof.|
|Chris bringing in his newest work|
|I asked Sue to take a tourist-y shot of Chris and I in front of the museum she founded|