KENNETT SQUARE: A wonderful tour
This spring's Bayard Taylor Home & Garden Tour was a particularly memorable one because all of the stops were inside the borough of Kennett Square. Groups of tourgoers with their maps and green wristbands could be seen all walking over town instead of driving from house to house as usual.
Dearest Partner and I arrived promptly at 10 and managed to get to all but four sites. The gardens were lovely and inspiring, the homes were enchanting, and the weather could not have been nicer. We applauded the hustle of some kids who noticed all the foot traffic along their street and opened an impromptu lemonade stand.
The Kennett Library's Special Events Committee did a terrific job. I heard nothing but compliments and appreciation for the "community" feeling of this year's tour (though one guide told us a fellow had grumbled there were "no mansions" this year).
We also made a stop at the Kennett Library, where there was an interesting Underground Railroad display (they called it a "pop-up museum").
For lunch we stopped at Fran Keller's Eatery and enjoyed delicious, huge omelets.
Running out of steam, we were walking back to the parking garage and saw a fellow sitting at an easel on his front porch, painting a marsh scene. We stopped to chat, and within 10 minutes found out that he and Dearest Partner had graduated the same year from Unionville High School. Small world!
PLANTATION FIELD: Parade of rescue dogs
Just a reminder that the annual schooling show for the benefit of dog rescues will be held on Wednesday, June 19, at Plantation Field. All the entry fees from the horses go to several local rescue places, and at noon there's a parade of rescue dogs, with prizes given for the oldest and youngest dog and also for the dog that comes from farthest away. Anyone can bring his or her rescue dog; you don't have to be entered in the horse show.
Plantation Field is off Green Valley Road between Route 82 and Apple Grove Road.
SOUTH PHILLY: Summer job
I've been helping out an injured pal of mine with yardwork, and yesterday afternoon while I was mowing one of his neighbors walked over to say hi. It was hot, and I'd reached the most challenging part of the yard, so I was happy to take a break and chat.
He started reminiscing about his childhood summers in South Philadelphia, when his first job was helping to make and sell lemon-flavored Italian ice. He remembered going to the ice house for a huge block of ice and breaking it up with an icepick, but most of all he remembered that he was allowed to keep all the profits.
"Best job I ever had!" he said. "I'll bet I still have the recipe around somewhere . . ."
By that time another neighbor had joined us (with some very welcome cold drinks), and he continued the lemon-themed conversation by telling us that back in his drinking days he used to make lemon Jell-O with grain alcohol.
"You could set that stuff on fire," he recalled fondly.
I was baffled for a moment -- then realized he had said "limoncello," not "lemon Jell-O."
SOLSTICE: The longest day
If you, like Daisy Buchanan in "The Great Gatsby," always miss the longest day of the year, this year it is June 21, the summer solstice. After that, the days start drawing in again, a few minutes at a time, until the winter solstice rolls around again in December. The difference between the longest and the shortest day of the year is a remarkable 5 hours and 50 minutes.
Unlike Daisy, you can always set a reminder alert on your phone.
CARDS: To a special sister
I spent a half-hour at the card shop looking for a suitable birthday card for a family member who is an intellectual, with sophisticated tastes. A jocular card about the anatomical changes that accompany middle age, or one containing an earnest, sentimental verse written in script, would not go over well. Similarly, I could immediately eliminate any card featuring Donald Trump (though there were some pretty funny ones), a Peanuts character or the word "special."
Fortunately I managed to find an innocuous card with a perfectly acceptable nature scene and no verse whatsoever. My search was an entertaining one, though. Who knew there would be a market for birthday cards not only in Spanish but also Polish and German, as well as some purporting to be from the dog and the cat?
WEST MARLBOROUGH: Township business
The June meeting of the West Marlborough supervisors took only 20 minutes from the call to order to the adjournment.
Supervisor Bill Wylie said that in a May 2 letter, the state Department of Transportation informed the township that they would not reduce speed limits on Routes 841 and 842 and Newark Road per the township's request, nor was a brake retarder prohibition justified. Wylie called their conclusions "a little disappointing." However, the letter did not entirely rule out the township's request to lower maintenance standards on some state roads. The supervisors have been seeking ways to reduce traffic and speeding in the township.
In the discussion that followed, the board and the audience offered examples of irresponsible driving and noted that the result of lowering the speed limit on Route 82 to 45 mph was that speeders simply passed those obeying the law.
"What is up with that?" commented Lofting Sr. in disbelief. "Everybody wants to get where they're going five minutes ago."
The supervisors said they'd be searching for a replacement for the late Elizabeth "Baz" Powell on the township's zoning hearing board and hoped to announce the new member's name at the July meeting. Roadmaster Hugh Lofting Sr. said his son Hugh Lofting, the road crew chief, would be applying for a state grant to replace deteriorated box culverts along Tapeworm Road as part of a maintenance program for unpaved rural roads.
PLANTS: So many temptations
In the past week I've made two trips to my favorite garden center, each time returning home with a trunk full of plants. On my second visit I was pulling my two wagons to the parking lot and walked past two women unloading the contents of three wagons into the back of their white Cadillac Escalade. One said ruefully to the other, "And we just came here just to get some marigolds …"
KENNETT SQUARE: Cats and more cats
On Saturday we spent a delightful half-hour at the Treetops Kitty Cafe in the shopping center at 305 West State Street in downtown Kennett.
We weren't sure exactly what a kitty café was but quickly found out. You pay an admission fee (it's a nonprofit, so all the fees go to cover expenses), sign a waiver in case a cat scratches you, de-germ your hands and then you are admitted to a comfortably furnished living room occupied by at least a dozen completely adorable cats and kittens. One big white cat snoozed peacefully behind me on the chair, while the sweet little guys ran around, explored their cat habitats, tussled in cat tunnels and batted at cat toys.
One dear kitten truly tugged at my heartstrings: as I was cuddling him he purred with contentment, but I had to remind myself -- repeatedly! -- that for now two "mature" cats keep me busy enough.
Sitting out on a table was a book of information about the cats who are up for adoption and an album of cats who have already been adopted. Talk about heartwarming! A fellow visitor said she is a regular at the kitty café because she loves felines but can't have them at her home.
Treetops hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.