Friday, June 20, 2014

Mystic at Dusk

American Dreaming in the Gloaming

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

In the gloaming is a beautiful time to dream dreams of what you want to accomplish with your life. Mystic has a picturesque dusk (picturesque everything). I'm blessed to be here while I work on my American Dreams.

Ship's masts silhouetted against the sky…not many places where you can see that.

This painter is capturing the scene.

Same ship, a little later, different angle.

The largest white blob of light, right in the middle of the photo, is a light over the painter's easel. He wasn't going to let darkness stop him.

On another recent evening, the sun kissed just the spire of the Union Baptist Church.

A selfie at the famous Mystic Pizza, where the movie with Julia Roberts was filmed.

A fog rolled in. Here's the gloaming, giving the fog a blue cast. Lights barely seen on the opposite shore.

The most gorgeous lines on this catboat, tied up at a private pier.

You can see the superstructure of the famous Mystic Drawbridge, one of the few bridges of its kind, silhouetted against the blue foggy.

Now for some miscellaneous Mystic pics.  Here's a sight not many people see: a 3-masted ship passing through Mystic Drawbridge (to the right, behind the red brick building), while the traffic waits on Route 1--the same Route 1 that goes from Maine to the Florida Keys.

I just like the colors of the hull…and the lines on this boat.

An historic Mystic cottage adorned with spring blooms.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

American Dreams, and How the .1% Live

Peapack-Gladstone: Horse Country, Fox and Hounds Country, Gatsby Country

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

I went to Mansions in May, led by volunteers for Morristown Memorial Hospital. The mansion, Blairston, is in Peapack, NJ, and has 26 rooms, plus four "indoor/outdoor" rooms, each one decorated to the hilt by top interior designers. I was dreaming dreams of writing a book like The Great Gatsby (meaning critical and popular success), because the son of a 19th-century railroad baron/Gatsby built the place and now that the Blair family lost its fortune, a modern-day Gatsby owns it. I asked how he made his fortune, but nobody knew. He will be deciding whether or not to keep times like the two Baccarat chandeliers on loan in the living room, priced at $250,000 each.

The reflecting pool, statues of stags, busts of Roman emperors lining the walk to the house…Get it? This place is meant to shock and awe your friends.

This is my friend Susan, smart, insightful, and fun!

As we left, Susan suggested that I take a walk on a country road nearby. She told me how to find the road. It turned out it was a dirt road. The ultra-rich pave their driveways but not their roads! They're shrewd. Susan told me about a friend of hers who runs a cattle-lending business. People on these big estates rent cattle from him, and he goes around to their places and takes care of the cows. The ultra-rich get a tax write-off, as if they were farmers, and Susan's friend gets to make a living without being in a cubicle.

Anyway, as I walked down this dirt road, with mansions hidden behind gates, and hedgerows of brambles, and trees, I saw a sign for Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve and Raritan Headwaters Association. So I started down the driveway.

The air was fantastic, lightly perfumed with the scent meadow grass basking in sunshine and wild blooming things. Birds sang in trees or swooped across the road. Far away, someone started up a tractor.

First, let's set your expectations. This is the kind of house you might see from the dirt road I walked on.

Or something like this, a huge McMansion for the nouveau riche. 

Well, here's the gates to Fairvew Farm (sorry the photo's tilted, I took it while driving past). Where does this enticing driveway lead? (I knew it was public before walking down it.)

The first 100 yards or so.

The second 100 yards or so.

The third 100 yards or so.

Are we 1/2 mile along yet? 

More to go...

A meadow along the way.

Another couple hundred yards.

At last, a sign of humans -- a bridge!

Here's what you get.

Beyond the white house was a classroom barn for a kids' nature camp.

A butterfly garden.

The classroom barn.

Inside the garden,

and the other side.

Here's the back of the farmhouse.

A place to sit and watch the birdfeeders. Then I had to walk all the way back...