Thursday, March 20, 2008

Small Town Delights

I am a born-and-bred small town girl myself, and though I've migrated to the suburbs, it seems my most memorable occasions still center around small towns. Some time back I wrote about our wonderful, serendipitous day in Greensburg, Kansas, the little community that was literally blown away by a tornado only a few months after our visit.

Fremont, Nebraska is my newest haunt. It has all the elements that make for a perfect, one-day vacation: unique eateries, one-of-a kind shops, interesting architecture, and BOOKS! My dear friend M. arranged for us to spend a day together there this past week as a birthday gift, one that I'm still savoring days later.

Starting at Thornhill, a cozy fine dining establishment in a restored home, we enjoyed Beef Wellington with caramelized onions and saffron risotto. And the tea! We had a hard time choosing, but ended up deciding on the Paris blend described as "a fruity black tea with a hint of lemony bergamot" served in a charming teapot and kept warm over a tea light.

The weather was mild and balmy (finally! a hint of spring), so we walked the town. My friend had arranged for us to have a personal tour of the Dragonfly, which is a large Victorian home that has been tastefully restored. It now houses a tea room, a floral shop, a gift shop, and a complete day spa. We ooohed and ahhhed over the elegant accoutrements in which the "Grand Old Dame" (circa 1890's) had been dressed.

On to Dime Store Days, a classy antique mall. We picked up some vintage schoolbooks there~ something I like to collect when the right volume presents itself. They play the most beautiful background music in that place, the music of Bob Patin. You can't listen to his music without smiling, so I couldn't resist picking up another of his CD's on this trip, this one entitled You Raise Me Up. (Listen to excerpts here.)

We found stuffed rabbits made by Boyd's Bears at our next stop at a ridiculously low price. I bought 4 for my children and paid $9 total!! They will find them in their spring baskets when they have breakfast this morning (we do spring baskets instead of Easter baskets).

Our final destination was the venerated Yankee Peddler West, which is worth a day all in itself. Rooms and rooms of used books in pristine condition, artfully arranged and interspersed with antique military artifacts, hats, toys, art work, and accessories of every kind imaginable. The proprietor speaks Swedish, too! I'm getting very picky about the used books I buy. Nothing stinky or mildewed, please. No crumbling spines or loose pages, either. I was not disappointed. Here is my stash from this trip:

  • The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich, a hardback in perfect condition
  • Joy Cometh in the Morning: A Story for Boys ~ charming cover and decorations, written 1924
  • The Desire of My Eyes: The Life and Work of John Ruskin by Wolfgang Kemp~ I've had an ongoing interest in John Ruskin for many years and can't wait to read this biography!
  • A paperback set in slipcase of Winston Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples. My older kids didn't connect with Winston, but I love him, so I bought these for ME :)

Not bad for a day out on the town, eh?

These excursions are few and far between for me, so I guess that is why I write about them with such enthusiasm. I know that my choicest fruit will be born at home, but God is so good in giving us days that bring us out of our usual routine that refresh us and restore the sparkle. I'm sparkling now, enjoying it all over again as I write. Thank you, M!!!!

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