Today, Sunday, March 12, 2017, I was fortunate to have a couple of friends invite me to join them for Lines On The Pines being held this year at the Renault Winery in Egg Harbor.
I love this event, because I love these people. These are the people who make things and take care of things. They make music and the instruments to play them, they sculpt, paint, make fragrant soap, and write books about the pines. Because I too love the pines, we have a lot in common.
As we entered the first of the many rooms of tables, I saw a dark wooden bowl, very thin and graceful and a matching wooden goblet, and I wanted them, but having just arrived, I was trying to be prudent and wait. Also, I didn't want to carry it around all day. Next, I admired the pine snake curled around his human handler's arm. It is an endangered snake.
Once, while hiking in the Dolly Sods of West Virginia, I had an experience with a rattle snake. I was stopping on a shelf overhang to do some yoga stretches, and when I leaned forward to rise, I saw on a jutting piece of the shale cliff surface, a curled up rattler. He simply and peaceably looked at me and I looked at him, then I slowly rose and backed away. When a peace loving and respectful person such as myself meets a wild creature such as that snake, on his own home turf, it is an altogether different interaction than a typical violent conflict that some more aggressive or fearful people might experience. I have always had a strangely solemn and soulful feeling in the presence of snakes since that meeting.
Someone was playing a dulcimer. I feel sorry for musicians under these circumstances, the sensory overload, the chaos and and the crowding make it impossible to give the music the attention it deserves.
We meandered from room to room, through the wine glass museum, which reminded me of the lovely wine glasses my former husband and I had bought in Germany when he was stationed there.
We met up with our writer friend, Barbara Solem, who had just completed, the day before, two programs (or more) in the Short Course in the Pines. Another friend, Janet Romano, volunteers for the Unexpected Animal Sanctuary, and not too far away was Barry Casselli's table being manned by his father, who had printed the immensely useful Visitor' Guide to vendors and performers. I had enjoyed Barry Casselli's on-line Ghosttowns digest for many years, but his father said it is gone now. I thought I had lost it when I changed e-mail address. Apparently it is a victim to Facebook.
I bumped into a favorite historian acquaintance of mine, Paul Schopp, looking very spiffy in his top hat. But I didn't see a friend I was looking for, Bonnie Beth Elwell, now Chief Librarian at Camden County Historical Society Library and President of the Genealogical Society of Salem County (which is how I met her.) She was there, others I met had seen her, but sadly I missed running into her.
I did speak with two volunteers, whom I cannot praise enough. My heroes are the volunteers who give their time generously to our cultural heritage. Wes Hughes of Batsto Mansion and also of Batsto Citizens' Committee is a prince! His enthusiasm is contagious and he has warmth and charm galore.
A volunteer for the Vineland Historical Society and I chatted briefly as I purchased the Vineland Historical Magazine. Then my friends and I headed out to get lunch. We had superb brunch at a hotel across the street from the Renault Winery which is now located on Bremen Ave., Egg Harbor City. A wonderfully mello saxophonist played in the quiet and restful restaurant while we ate.
You may remember a former postw where I described the history of Egg Harbor City. A group of charitable German businessmen from Philadelphia, pooled money to buy property to move German immigrants out of the cities where they were being harassed and beaten and their shops and homes firebombed by native-born Americans in anti-immigrant programs. They set the people up in small plots in town on streets named after cities in Germany in shops featuring tailoring and dressmaking. Outside of town they were offered small farms.
It is worth remembering that before the turn of the century - the late 1800's into the 1900's, almost all clothes were made by people at home not machine in factories. My own German great-grandmother, Catherine Sandman was a dressmaker in Philadelphia in 1900. It was a trade that employed thousands, both tailors for men's wear and dressmakers for women. The farms and shops of Egg Harbor flourished, but as time moved on, so did the Germans and new people moved in and only the street names remain to remind us of the origins of Egg Harbor.
After lunch we returned for a final stroll through the festival and I went to buy the dark wooden bowl only to find it had been sold. I had hesitated and I had lost. But I bought another bowl and half a dozen wooden eggs to put in it for my daughter's Easter gift this year. She is a vegan/vegetarian and so both chocolate and eggs are out. Last year I bought fragrant soaps for her basket. I like these wooden eggs in the pretty little bowl so much, however, that in the intervening month (Easter is in early April this year) I may find something else and keep the wooden eggs and bowl. Moms have a right to indulge in a little selfishness after a life of sacrifice, I think.
The first half of my day was just wonderful and I felt really happy. So now we get to the sad part. I couldn't believe that the Hugg Harrison House had in fact been destroyed, so I drove to the site to see for myself. Foolishly I hoped I would see it there and find out reports of its destruction had been in error. I drove away, after viewing the desolation, with tears in my eyes. If only I had money, I thought, I could have bought it and moved it and saved it. But it is gone forever now.
However, I refuse to be pulled down by those things which cannot be helped and by the inevitable losses that break the heart of anyone with a heart, so I drove on home and sat down to write this blog.
I do hope you made it to Lines On the Pines today and I hope to see you at Whitesbog next Sunday! It is the lecture on Elizabeth White and her contributions to Three Mile Colony. I plan to pack a lunch and enjoy a nice hike around the always gorgeous cranberry bogs. Maybe we will run into one another there!