I’m spending the month of May in CA to visit, so this will be my last blog at this web address. When I return in June, I’ll begin with a fresh blog address. I’ll combine my writing and travel blogs and hopefully, I’ll have some slide shows with pictures! I hope those of you who have signed up as followers will sign up on the new site as well. And those of you who have not been able to comment or sign up, well, I think I have some fixes lined up for the problems. Or at least some options!
We visited the hill country of Connecticut. We hoped to see a recreated Algonquin village but the weather had it buried under too much snow and it was inaccessible. But we did travel through some beautiful scenery. There was a great river (they're everywhere here!), completely iced over with flows just beginning to break off and float down. Even though we were only about forty minutes away from New York, it seemed were deep in the country.
We stopped at one bridge to take pictures and ran into a man and his son ice fishing. On the other side was a tributary and when I walked over there, I found the snow was covered in blood. An animal had been chased by a predator and brought down on the ice. I couldn’t have felt further from the city than when I stood, staring at the blood-covered ice, listening to the sound of running water and wind in the trees.
There were deep valleys and hidden spots. When they talk about Connecticut farms in the country, they mean it. Each place seemed secluded and isolated. Each time we came over a hill, it shut out the sights and sounds behind it and even the small Indian museum hidden in the hills seemed a thousand miles from anyone.
We left the hills and moved down in a valley to Waterbury, once known as the center of the industrialization movement. Set on a river, Waterbury, had all that was necessary to help usher in modernization with mechanized factories. We saw brick buildings, five and six stories high with huge windows. They were impressive…and a little like prisons. Most of the factories in Waterbury started out as button factories, mass producing brass buttons. Eventually they branched out to produce brass parts for watches, clocks and makeup containers. Timex had it's home there.
Immigrants flooded into Waterbury to take the jobs in the factories. In the early 1800’s child labor laws had not been enacted so women and children made up most of the work force. They were often paid in scrip and could only afford to live in company housing and bought groceries in the company store, with pricing set so they had little money left over. They worked long hours, without health benefits and accident insurance…and there were many accidents.
Eventually, laws were put in place and the factory jobs were regulated and well paid. During World War II, women once again filled the factories and continued to do so after the war. But in the seventies the last of the Waterbury factories closed and now the big brick buildings stand as a testimony to changing times.
We visited Paterson Falls, situated in the middle of bustling Paterson, New Jersey. The Passaic River was running high with melting snow and rain storms. Everyone said the falls were spectacular and they were. The falls are the second largest on the east coast, only Niagara is bigger. The river makes a sharp turn over sheer rocks and drops hundreds of feet below. In the corner of the river is an ancient power plant built in the 1800’s. American officials said it was too expensive to run so they sold it to a Canadian company who revamped it and has made enough money off of it to pay for itself three times over. It looks old and decrepit but it works and makes for great pictures!
Thomas Jefferson, when he first saw Paterson Falls, declared that the power to be had from the falls would be a boon. He was right. Like Waterbury, factories sprung up around the falls. Paterson was known as the silk capital, producing materials and threads. Now the huge brick buildings, with writing on the sides, advertise thread and companies long gone. They stand derelict with broken windows. It’s very humbling to look at these massive structures, once the giants of an industry, now abandoned.
The weather continues to confound me. While shopping for spring clothes, I saw racks and racks of raincoats and I asked my husband if maybe I should get the message. I was pleasantly surprised when the sun came out and the snow started to melt. Under the snow, the grass was already green. Flowers started to bloom.
Then it snowed again. The flowers are made of sturdy stuff. They survived. I cried.
They tell me we’ll probably skip spring all together and go straight into summer with its humidity. I’m going home to absorb as much sunshine as I can, and all I can say is it better be like the song says and never rain in Southern California.