Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Snow and Books, 4

Thanks to last weekend's rather pathetic yet messy storm, here is the 8th edition of Connecticut: An Explorer's Guide, by Andi Marie Cantale. (Published by Countryman Press.) This is the latest edition of my favorite Connecticut guidebook, or, I should say, the best Connecticut guidebook I've encountered so far. I've been using a previous edition of this book for years and years, and I figured it was time to upgrade. If you need a general Connecticut guide, or you want to get one for someone who's moving here, this is a good choice. It's got (almost) everything, but not totally everything, so you can still feel superior because you know of things that aren't in it. And it's 544 pages long, so at the very least you can use it as a weapon or to press flowers or whatever.

One quibble about this edition that does not apply to the earlier one I have: I'd barely opened the book when a few pages began to fall out. This is beside the point, I know, but I come from a family of book designers (if I ever publish a book, I imagine the first thing my Dad will look at is its binding) so I feel I have to complain about that.

Today I Learned: Hunting is not permitted on Sundays in Connectciut. The Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival exists. There's a Laurel Sanctuary in the Nipmuck State Forest. Connecticut's population, according to the 2010 census, is 3,574,097. (Which means CT-N's little graphic, the one that says "3.4 Million People," has been lying to us.) Talbots is "upscale." Danbury used to be nicknamed Beantown.

Amusements: The division of the state into six sections (Gold Coast, Litchfield Hills, Hartford and environs, Quiet Corner, Southeast, and Lower Connecticut River Valley), and my subsequent realization that you could blend Tolland County into Windham, and split New Haven County between Fairfield and Middlesex, and everything would probably carry on just as before. The fact that the list of Connecticut inventions includes the lollipop. (1908.) The thought that something seems to have gone wrong between 1954, when we came up with the nuclear submarine, and 1956, when we gave the world the whiffle ball. The sentence, "In Greenwich's earliest days...the commuters it sent to New York were potatoes and oysters." And the assertion that "the diversity of the country's third-smallest state is nowhere so striking as in Connecticut's verdant northwestern corner." As the kids say, orly?

Listings: I didn't read through each and every one, because 544 pages! But if you still use guidebooks and not the Internet to find hotels, restaurants, and shops, this book has a good selection. It doesn't list every attraction, though it does try to explain why some are left out. (Only the best of local historical societies, for example, got in; presumably if they'd all been included the book would have been 600 pages.) And it has some I'd never paid attention to but now want to visit, like the Topsmead State Forest in Litchfield and the Obookiah Burial Site in Cromwell.

Quotes: Mark Twain, listing the proliferation of objects supposedly carved from the fallen Charter Oak: "a walking-stick, dog collar, needle-case, three-legged stool, bootjack, dinner table, tenpin alley, toothpick, and enough Charter Oak to build a plank road from Hartford to Salt Lake City."

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