Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Two More Delicious Creameries Along Maryland's Best Ice Cream Trail

A sunny August afternoon lured us out again for some more ice cream -- this time we decided to drive out to northern Baltimore County and Harford County MD, to Broom's Bloom Dairy and Prigel Family Creamery respectively.

About a decade ago, Maryland dairy farmers came up with a creative – and delicious – plan to improve income on their farms: opening cow-to-cone creameries. Or rather, on-site ice cream (and other dairy product) shops. 

Maryland's Best Ice Cream Trail now includes 10 dairy farms with active creameries. Several, including the two we visited this time, offer lunchtime fare (simple soups and sandwiches), groceries, and other farmers market items.

In the past decades, the number of dairy farms in Maryland has declined, and current ones faced challenges due to urban sprawl. Making and selling fresh ice cream is one way to promote and add value to their product. The profits from the ice cream trail have already helped some farmers with operation bills and business in general. 

Also, cool fact: Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail at the time of its inception was the only farm-based ice cream trail in the country -- now many other states have followed this tasty trend!

As we drove to Prigel's Family Creamery, we passed numerous beautiful old homes and estates before hitting farmland -- it was an interesting drive (we took back roads of course, eschewing I-83, I-95, I-695, and the like. 

As soon as we parked we spotted the gorgeous bovines -- either Brown Swiss or Jersey I believe (not that I'm anything but a google expert). I took photos like I'd never seen a cow before, but at least I wasn't alone. Kids enjoyed seeing these gorgeous light brown cows with their huge brown eyes.

We went inside and quickly got our ice cream -- vanilla brownie with caramel topping in a waffle cone for me, mint chocolate chip in a waffle cone for him. Prigel's also offers a variety of other locally sourced pantry items, such as honey, cheeses, and so forth.

Picnic tables surrounding the creamery under trees offered views of the cows (plus, it was milking time, and they gathered near the tables -- cows are surprisingly big animals. A friendly chicken free-ranged around the table, visiting with the guests and looking for dropped bits of waffle cone, I imagine.

Getting there: 4852 Long Green Rd, Glen Arm. MD

Next we headed to Broom's Bloom Dairy. The dairy's name originates from the colonial land grant for the area along with the original owner of the land, John Broom. The ‘Bloom’ refers to crops flourishing and providing for the tenants, hence the name, “Broom’s Bloom Dairy." In 1997, David and Kate Dallam started milking 65 cows on the farm and even more recently they started making and selling old fashioned ice cream, farmstead cheese and pork sausage.

Although we didn't get to see cows, we were treated to friendly picnic area, with multiple tables and even a corn hole game, a lawn game in which players take turns throwing 16 ounce bags of corn kernels at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A corn field bordered the creamery.

Over the years since the creamery has opened, it has offered more than a 100 different flavors, but at any given time, only 12-18 are served at a time. If your favorite flavor isn't on the list, come back again -- the flavors vary daily. For us on this visit, we grabbed strawberry chocolate chip in a waffle cone for me, mint chocolate chip cookie dough smothered in hot fudge sauce in a bowl for him. Pro tip: this is right off of I-95 (Exit 80/MD543), so an easy rest stop on a trip along that crowded highway.

Getting there:  1700 South Fountain Green Road, Bel Air, MD

Know before you go: Be sure to check creameries’ websites and social media pages for the most up-to-date hours of operation and for current safety and public health guidelines.

Website: https://mda.maryland.gov/Documents/2021-Marylands-Best-Ice-Cream-Trail-Passport.pdf

For more Maryland ice cream, check out

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Saturday, August 28, 2021

Cool Ruins and a Waterfall Along the Madam Brett White and Red Trail

Madam Brett Park is a tranquil little park on Fishkill Creek in Beacon NY, alongside the Hudson River in Dutchess County, not far away from the Hudson Highlands Park. We were there to hike the "Madam Brett White and Red Trail, an out-and-back trail to a waterfall and marsh overlook.

This area is noteworthy because industrial development and settlement focused on Fishkill Creek for more than 300 years. 

The story of Fishkill Creek's parallels U.S. industrial history. The fortunes of the Creek's mills and factories were tied to universal boom-and-bust economic cycles caused by "crashes," tariffs, wars, and changing technology -- all that stuff I didn't pay much attention to in Social Studies and History classes. 

The dams on the creek provided water power for factories processing grain, wood, fabric, metals, rubber and other materials, and the factories provided employment for the residents of the villages of Matteawan and Fishkill Landing, which grew up close by, eventually merging to today's City of Beacon.

But before all this occurred, the Beacon area was originally part of the Rombout Patent, purchased from the Wappinger Native American groups in 1683. The first European settlers on Fishkill Creek were Roger and Catharyna Brett, who built a grist mill in 1709. During the eighteenth century, Fishkill Landing became a small, busy Hudson River port.

Madam Brett was a revolutionary businesswoman and the founding mother of Beacon. She built up a small empire, was a trailblazer in settling farms in Dutchess County and paved a free road through her lands to the river -- today’s Route 52. 

Roger Brett drowned in 1726 and his wife not only carried on his affairs but she continued to build up their holdings. Catharyna Brett held a monopoly on milling rights in the area through deed restrictions she placed on her upstream land sales. Her mill became an important destination for area farmers from both sides of the Hudson River

The Madam Brett White and Red Trail is an out-and-back trail that is noted for its waterfall, but it is so much more than that. 

Most of the trail is along the Fishkill Creek; off the parking lot down the smaller wooded trail next to the lot leads to a really cool waterfall over the dam, although you can only view it from a distance.

The red trail leads to a nice fishing dock, taking you past some interesting factory ruins of the Tioronda Hat Works adjacent to the board walk; on the other side is Fishkill Creek. The abandoned early 19th century hat factory is a huge centerpiece of this park. After the hat factory closed, the structure housed a factory that recycled fabric; in fact, surrounding the ruins are areas of "spongy ground," where discarded fabric was buried.

Beacon's most significant industry, hat making, emerged after the Civil War, with the formation of the Matteawan Manufacturing Company in 1864 and Dutchess Hat Company in 1873. Beacon ultimately became the second-largest hat making district in the United States. 

The trail leads past Fishkill Marsh to a connector trail that goes over the rail tracks. Fishkill Marsh furnishes a home for amphibians and aquatic mammals and provides hunting grounds for ospreys and bald eagles and a stopover for migratory birds. Plan on spending a little time enjoying the marsh and looking for various birds. 

Scenic Hudson purchased the 12-acre tract of land to create the park as an oasis for visitors to enjoy nature.

Know before you go: There is ample parking in the lot and the street leading up to it.


Getting there: South Ave, Beacon, NY

Hours: daylight

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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Larger than Life Sculpture Garden at Grounds for Sculpture

Seward Johnson, "Daydream"

Grounds for Sculpture (GFS) is an outdoor art museum in Hamilton NJ, where you can walk around the beautifully landscaped grounds and experience the art from all angles. 

During a visit to GFS, you can stroll among the more than 500 works, nearly 300 of which are exhibited on the grounds year round. 

Karen Petersen, "Beast"

From more traditional monuments and sculptures to the most abstract, the GFS art collection offers a range of styles and materials, created by both local and international artists. 

Toshiko Takaezu, "Three Graces"

Seward Johnson founded GFS in 1992, purchasing the former New Jersey state fairgrounds and repurposing several of the buildings onsite for the sculpture garden. 

Yuyu Yanal, "Lunar Brilliance." I took the opportunity to take a selfie in this
lovely piece; one of the old fairgrounds buildings is in the back, now serving as an art gallery.

Many of the sculptures in the collection were created through partnerships that allowed artists to make exciting and ambitious new work. 

GFS continues to build its collection with a focus on acquiring works by established and emerging contemporary sculptors and provides opportunities for artistic growth through changing exhibitions, artist residencies, and educational programs. Although many of the works are permanent, almost half rotate in and out.

I particularly enjoy art outside. Tell me there's a sculpture garden and I'm planning a daytrip to it -- it's a great way to make art more accessible to folks and kids, particularly folks like me, who enjoy art but don't know a whole lot about it.

Magdalena Abakanowicz, "Space of Stone"

Some of the works were commissioned specifically for the GFS, such as Magdalena Abakanowicz’s "Space of Stone" and New Jersey artist Isaac Witkin’s "Garden State."

Cliffard Lang, "Jubilant Dancer"

At GFS, you can experience sculptural works and installations by American and international artists in wood, bronze, stone, stone, steel, paper, and assemblage since the museum’s inception in 1992.

Seward Johnson, "Lakeside Table"

If you're hungry -- or become so while at GFS, you have options. You can do as we did -- bring your own picnic and enjoy it at any of the numerous tables or benches. Or you can enjoy a repast at Rat's Restaurant, located right on the grounds. 

Rat's Restaurant was designed by Johnson with an Impressionist Claude Monet-styled atmosphere. As you stroll by, for a few moments in time, you are in that Impressionist painting. 

The scenery surrounding the restaurant features Johnson's own impressionist-inspired sculptures, including a bridge over a lily pond which is an homage to Monet's painting "Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge." 

I was particularly struck by several of Taiwanese sculptor Kang Muxiang's Rebirth series sculptures -- and I was just in time to see them, as the exhibit ended the week (if I'm understanding the website properly) of our visit. 

Kang Muxiang, "Infinite Life"

Kang’s themes of adaptive reuse and reimagination -- the material used in his sculptures is elevator cabling from Taipai 101, one of the world's tallest buildings -- is relevant for our world today.

Bernar Venet, "Arcs in Disorder: 4 Arcs x 5"

I recognized the work of French artist Bernar Venet -- I'd really enjoyed his "Arcs in Disorder: 4 Arcs x 5, and 83.5 Degree Diagonal Line" at Art Omi, and likewise, I really enjoyed his works at GFS, including 81.5°Arc x 8 (Vertical Arcs), Indeterminate Lines, and Arcs in Disorder: 4 Arcs x 5, which is very similar (to me) to his 4 Arcs x 5 at Art Omi.

Autin Wright, "Carmelita"

Of course, GFS is dominated by the works of Seward Johnson. 

Seward Johnson, "The Awakening"

Johnson's sculptures were some of my favorite pieces -- it was because of him that GFS even exists. While I enjoyed the works that were inspired by Impressionist paintings, I was in awe of his "Daydream" (at the top of this article) and "The Awakening."

I realized belatedly that I'd seen one of his sculptures, "Unconditional Surrender," of an American sailor kissing a nurse spontaneously on the street after WWII ended, in Bastogne, Belgium, when my spouse and I had visited. Unlike "Unconditional Surrender," the sculptures on display at GFS are less controversial (the sculpture has been criticized because it seems to celebrate assault).

Seward Johnson, "Confrontational Vulnerability"

As you wander through the sculpture park, you randomly encounter Johnson's sculptures -- they are hidden around the grounds. At one point, I even took a photo of a man with a child on his shoulders and a woman pointing at a sculpture, before I realized that they were sculpture themselves. The joke was on me.

He has completed a series of over 30 works based on Impressionist and Post- Impressionist masterworks -- and many of these can be found at GFS.

Bruce Beasley, "Dorion"

There are secret tunnels, inviting paths and mysterious hills to explore at GFS, and as you do, you will surely discover some interesting sculpture to delight you, or inspire you with awe.

This albino peacock stands out from the others in its flock;
he (she??) stood still as we took its photo, like another beautiful sculpture.

Know before you go: download an interactive map at www.gfsmap.org.

Getting there: 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton Township, NJ

Hours: You can obtain timed entry passes at the website below.

Website: https://www.groundsforsculpture.org/

Looking for other sculpture gardens? Be sure to check out Art Omi, in upstate New York; Annmarie Sculpture Garden in Solomons, MD; and the Baltimore Art Museum's Outdoor Sculpture Garden!

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