Washington State of Mind
I heeded the warnings, but ended up "outsmarting" them by taking a series of other trails that brought me near the nesting grounds, a fact that didn't sink in as I followed this self-choreographed route more than once without incident. Then, one Friday afternoon, I entered the preserve from a different parking area on the other side of the river, at a point that contained no warning signs. I followed a trail alongside the river, and eventually crossed a footbridge to the other side and started up a series of switchbacks to pick up the outer loop trail I had been tracing.
Another accomplishment for Rossiter was designing a cultural gem in town, the Gunn Memorial Library. It's the pinnacle of small-town Connecticut libraries, and every year, as spring blossoms into the summer, the library holds a unique fund-raiser called Library Luminaries.
Fourteen separate dinner parties will each feature at least one "luminary," or a distinguished person of note, and each party will be hosted by an area resident. That much is unchanged.
But during the event’s past decade and a half, a flat donation allowed guests to choose which dinner to attend, in addition to alternatives in case of a sell-out, with an adjunct pre-dinner cocktail party at library. The package fee this year begins at $150. But the 2011 Library Luminaries Committee will also open up the cocktail party to those who may not attend, and do so for a contribution of $50.
"In prior years, people had to [sign up for] the dinner," said co-chair Bill Fore. "But this year you do not need to go the dinner, you can just go to the cocktail party."
The annual event is one of the primary fund-raisers for the town’s library and historical museum, which largely depends upon private contributions rather than taxpayer dollars. According to a release, recent Connecticut statistics reveal that the Gunn Memorial Library boasts double the number of visits per capita of libaries in towns of its size, and performs at the top of every measure of libraries statewide.
Just a few of the guest luminaries this year include: designer Robert Couturier and historical architect Jeffrey Morgan, hosted by Philippa Feigen Malkin and Jonathan Malkin; chef Wayne Nish, hosted by Susan and Lawrence Kessler; "Sex and the City" author Candace Bushnell, hosted by realtor Carolyn Klemm; author and radio host Ann Leary, hosted by Christina and Peter Klemm; and author and memoirist Dani Shapiro, hosted by Linda and Arthur Carter, the founder of The Litchfield County Times who is now a sculptor.
And in another departure from previous years, singer-songwriter Christine Ohlman and Rebel Montez will perform a concert, hosted by Susan Bishop-Wrabel and Gene Wrabel, Cynthia Oneglia and Dan Whalen, Susan and Craig Schoon, Chris and Marlene Smith, along with Mr. Fore and Joe Loose. Ms. Ohlman, best known from the Saturday Night Live Band, will conduct her show at the Washington Club Hall adjacent to the library.
"We’ve never had a luminary dinner that was also a concert," said Mr. Fore. "If your heart is beating, your hips will be shaking."
The event is scheduled for Saturday, June 4. For information on how to partake, visit the library’s Web site at www.gunnlibrary.org or call 860-868-7586.
If a library's fund-raiser, however lofty, doesn't hold appeal, seeking out and discovering Washington certainly is in order. In addition to connecting with Steep Rock's preserves, zero in on Washington Depot to get acclimated. Clustered within a small area are plenty of shops worth discovering, including the landmark Hickory Stick Bookshop (http://www.hickorystickbookshop.com/).
|The Hickory Stick Bookshop.|
One of the central spots in town, only established in recent years, is Marty's Cafe, a stylish coffee shop with yummy baked goods and rotating art exhibits. (http://www.seeyouatmartys.com/)
Once fueled up, visitors can't miss the Washington Art Association at the rear of the plaza that's home to town hall. See the Web site at http://www.washingtonart.org/.
To learn more about Washington Depot, see the Web site of the Washington Business Association (http://www.washingtonbusinessassociation.org/), which, in fact, is holding a community day for the villages of Washington on Saturday, May 28.
Beyond Washington Depot is New Preston village, a rich little stop for visitors, Marbledale and more. Find this town and fall in love---just watch out for the goshawks.