Forget Walmart and Black Friday, I like to do my Christmas Shopping out in the country. My sister said the best Christmas present I ever gave her was a series of things I picked out at Buzby's General Store in Chatsworth, so I went there last week with my friend Barbara Spector, about whom I have something to say closer to the end. I bought three boxes of notecards, very pretty, and a wooden sign, featuring cardinals, a symbol my sister and I enjoy at Christmas. Then, we took the opportunity to hike at one of my favorite places, Pakim Pond in Lebanon State Forest. What a beautiful day!
Byzby's is up for sale and when it is sold, I will surely miss the fun conversations with Marilyn Schmidt, who has kept the store so lovelingly these years. She was honored recently at Lines On the Pines and she deserved it for her dedication to the history and culture of the Pinebarrens. Buzby's is on the National Register of Historic Places.
On the way home, along route 70, we had the inspiration to stop and see what they had to offer at the Amish market that has opened up there. A woman in a produce building promised Barbara that the basket of apples she bought would truly be crisp. Barbara has been on the hunt for some nice crisp apples for some weeks and has found only somewhat old and mushy ones. I haven't talked to her since she has eaten them but I'll let you know. The name of the apples was New Jersey Crisp! Inside the building, there was a cafe' and we have promised ourselves to have lunch there the next time we are hiking in Lebanon. They also sold cheeses and meats and other craft items. You can know the places by the wooden gazebos and other yard structures on the front property, but ehy have much more to sell than out buildings.
We stopped in another great old New Jersey roadside farm market and I fell in love with a Christmas decoration, a ball of holly and pine greens and ribbons, but it was priced a little high for my wishes. Not that it wasn't worth it, just that at this season, I have so many gifts to buy, I can't afford to spend a lot more on decorations. They wanted $35. Speaking with my sister on the phone afterward, I was told that they sell them at Platt's Farm Market on Cohawkin Road for $25. She said it is a very labor intensive decoration which she has made before when she worked at Platt's. Today, I'm going there and making a return trip to Haynicz,s Orchardview Farm Market as well, which is in Monroeville on the corner of Buck and Elk Roads. They have a delicious peach cider I'm giving as visit gifts to friends over the holidays. I call it a taste of summer in the winter.
The bottles of peach cider are $6 each, very reasonable. I bought some in the summer but then they had many kinds of berry ciders, blackberry, raspberry, and I wish I had known they would be sold out, I'd have bought a half dozen bottles then. Now they have only peach left, but it is delicious.
A note about my friend, Barbara, she has just been victorious in saving the lives of migrating geese in her housing development in Franklinville. You may wonder how that could be since the geese are a federally protected species but it turns out that little municipalities can get permits to kill them that buypass the lasw to protect them. She campaigned tirelessly for other solutions to the problem. We both feel that if you don't want to be around trees and animals stay in the city. It is sad when people come to the country and then cut down the trees so they don't have to blow the leaves, or demand that th native wildlife be exterminated. As Joni Mitchell once sang, "They pave paradise and put up a parking lot."
Anyhow, hope you find some ideas for Christmas Shopping in New Jersey's countryside and also some decorating ideas from this blog entry. Happy Holidays! Also, for entertainment, may I repeat that there are literally dozens of candlelight tours available in our lovely country towns and historic houses. Maybe I'll see you at one. I'm going to Greenwich and Woodstown and don't miss the Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield Dec. 8 and Indian King Tavern on Friday nights. Check them out on the internet for more info.