Have fun reading Moby-Dick? Surely, I’m kidding. Most people would dismiss me with a laugh and perhaps some choice profanities if I seriously suggested they plunge into the deep prose Herman
Melville’s epic novel. But what if you could hear it read aloud, combining some of the magic of childhood’s first books with the drama of a stage performance? Then imagine you were transported to a nineteenth century seafaring town where a forest of wooden masts pokes the sky. Suppose you could channel the book aboard a wooden whaling ship like the one described in its pages. What if you were challenged, like a mental triathlete or an eating contestant devouring words instead of hot dogs, to participate in a twenty-four hour round robin reading of the entire book with just a select few die-hards who are up to the task? All this is possible at Mystic Seaport’s annual Moby-Dick Marathon held in Mystic, Connecticut to celebrate Melville’s August 1st birthday.
A dark green cannon stationed on a triangle of grass beside a flagpole and granite slabs inscribed with the names of war dead is just a minute’s walk from my Collinsville home. When my children were little
they liked climbing it. Standing on wooden wagon wheels treaded with metal, information on the muzzle indicates it was made in 1916 by the famed Watervliet, New York armory, but I don’t know much more. After several inquiries to the local historical society and veterans, I found no one who knew exactly what it was, how and where it was used, or how it got there. Unfortunately, it’s not an unusual situation.
On a hot day not long ago I visited Jeff Cone at his River Plain Dairy in Lebanon, a cluster of red barns beside a white clapboard house shaded with tall sugar maples and surrounded by fields. “Farming is
long, hard work,” the earnest, soft spoken 36 year-old acknowledged while some of his fifty black and white Holsteins lowed nearby, “but I know the land, the cows, and myself, and know what I can ask of each. I’m here to enjoy life.” Once common throughout Connecticut, dairymen and farms like Cone’s are increasingly rare in this long and thickly settled state.