Monday, October 31, 2011

Ripples in Essex, NY

This week I am welcoming to the Pink Pig web site, guest blogger Linda Coffin. She has an interesting and varied background that colors her perspective. Prior incarnations include, equestrian, theater, launching a wholesale manufacturing company to the furniture  trade in High Point, North Carolina of her own designs, experience in restoration, preservation and love of Historic Architecture, and animal welfare campaigner. Moving to Montreal with her French speaking Mother as a child, she said, she was a little scared but excited at the prospect of Igloo living. Instead she found a vibrant city which, she says, touched a very responsive chord within cultivating a love for art, style and urban landscapes. Summers were spent in the Adirondacks -first as a camper and then Counselor at local storied Camp Poko-O-Moonshine, and with her family on Big Wolf Lake. So read along with us as she treats us with her take on…the fine art of Essex living with a side dish of, “a little bit of everything.” Welcome to “Horse-Feathers”, by my friend, Linda Coffin
 
As an Essex resident I am excited about the local presence of the Pink Pig Boutique.  It's a game changer.  Most scramble to exit this neck of the woods after the Autumnal Equinox. Like frenzied little mice trying to escape a rain barrel. And until The Essex Inn on Lake Champlain received a no holds barred face-lift and the Pink-Pig hung it's shingle, pretty much the only folks who stopped in Essex , "out of season" , were those unfortunates caught in that dirty little seat-belt and stop-sign trap instituted a few years ago.
Hundred bucks minimum for not having the seat belt buckled or only slowing to a crawl at the stop sign before turning  right out of town and straight out of Essex.  Mind you the stop sign is virtually twenty-two yards from the Ferry parking lot so most folks didn't stand a chance with the seat belt thing or the crawling stop because they are anxious to cover the 15 miles to the Northway on Ramp- so they can get to Montreal or NYC before nothing keeps happening.  
If I sound a little bitter I am. One day I was headed to the dump a - half mile up the hill - seat belt unclipped - as I was jumping out momentito and also did not want to restrict my arm since it is attached to my hand that held a piping hot coffee and since no one was around I turned up the hill from a "crawling stop".  Adjudicated down to court costs thanks in part to my friendly neighbor and magistrate. (That's why I know the fee schedule)
I am a happy citizen to report that this unsavory practice is now abandoned as the gun-ho rookies slunk back Down-State where night-clubs exist.  But still beware racing down Rt. 22 in a hot hurry to catch the Ferry as there is ALWAYS a stake-out waiting as soon as you see the 35mph limit sign.
Keep going and you T-Intersect with the Main Street of Essex and Lake Champlain, where the Adirondack Park becomes known locally as the Banana Coast. That's because though we are not far from Lake Placid, we experience a significant drop in altitude with a co-morbid rise in mean temperature. It's kinda a joke since nobody can really grow any banana trees here so far yet. (But haven't confirmed with Essex Farm lately)  www.gardenshare.org
Turn left and you are almost at the Ferry, BUT just before you arrive - there it is....an eight foot high by two-foot wide black and white sandwich board in it's own parking space proclaiming...COFFEE!   AAAAAbsolutely FAAAAAbulous!  That slows the rubber on the road and then you see these colossal 18th ct. display windows and you can't tear your eyes away.  It's the store front of the Pink Pig Boutique housed in an early 1800's gray stone Emporium.
Greeting one upon entering is a large silver urn of hot coffee and on a round, cloth-covered table with dainty doilies and napkins -  homemade pumpkin cookies.  Courtesy of Debbie's old school Italian mother. (sometimes it's banana or zucchini bread - from scratch she explains to me - practically does her own  threshing...'nuff said?).
But it's those gi-normous display windows, luminous eyes that sparkle and wink and change with the season, that pull you to the sidewalk transfixed.  Right now, but at the end of it's lease on life, is a Fall and Halloween Vignette. Precious, little, tear-drop headed ghosts suspended from pink ribbons dressed in translucent fabric with rose tulle scarves smile down on the drop-dead gorgeous Alaskan inspired Hooded Parka featured front and center. Gee those ghouls put a spell on me and made me purchase it - you could plausibly tell your husband, lover or accountant. You wipe the saliva from your face and notice the 14 piercing pair of eyes looking back at you. Five snowy white Owls perch here and there, two small hoot owls and three larger barn owls -all stylized in white fur- as if to say - you too can be as striking we are - just put on that parka! The other eyes belong to a grinning white pumpkin and a horribly scowling orange squash poking out from the lower corner reminding us it is the haunting season.  (That exquisite jacket does a pretty good job of haunting all on its own of course)
The twin window on the other side of the entrance inexplicably holds two lovely lithe torsos on wooden stands wearing sparkling tutus in striking cherry. I notice a bone-white vase with cherry blossoms in the fore-ground. If you ask me, and I am getting paid to offer my perspective- those cheery cherry outfits hint at the fashions and spirit of the splashy holiday season just around the corner, and the cherry blossoms echo the cherry colors whilst reminding us that spring ,will indeed, spring forth from a bone white winter.
If you get the feeling somebody knows what they are doing you'd be damn right. Debbie Schrodt, my friend, and Pig proprietress, cares. And she has changed the deeply, I'l say it again, deeply, entrenched traffic pattern of the Village of Essex. No small feat.
She is, perhaps, the hundredth monkey.  Because something is afoot here. For sure. Hundredth Monkey Effect.   In fact, I was galavanting at the store today, drinking free coffee, eyeing the pastry offerings on display....uh...oh, I mean researching things and watching a few customers...people...not from around here. I couldn't help staring. 


She is, perhaps, the hundredth monkey.  Because something is afoot here. For sure. Hundredth Monkey Effect.   In fact, I was galavanting at the store today, drinking free coffee, eying the pastry offerings on display....uh...oh, I mean researching things and watching a few customers...people...not from around here. I couldn't help staring. 
Finally, in the interest of research, I asked an interesting looking woman what she was doing here, why she was in the Pink Pig and...she interrupted me to ask politely if I was interviewing her. Caught with my writer showing!! Such a rookie mistake but can't knock off that prideful flush - my first official writing job....finally getting paid for inking that cursed natural verbosity, (also known as wordiness, prolixity and garrulousness - those last two almost sound like venereal diseases- thanks Wikipedia.)
I confessed I was: feigning embarrassment that I had a bona fide reason for engaging her. She was so gracious and forthcoming, explaining that she was a collector. Always has been. Collecting doll house interiors as a young girl and only gaining scope and whimsy from there. Definitely a very interesting and articulate person, Pam. She is a huge fan of Debbie and her store. She is from the city but has tap roots in Philly and once, she and her husband - a native northern New Yorker- were pleasure traveling and disembarked in Essex and ended up buying a place in this area. She likes the store because it affords her ample opportunity to add to her collections and find new things to collect. The great mix of old and new- country and urban, primitive and refined allows anyone to indulge their passions.
Everything from furniture, accessories, to soft goods, clothes - a hybrid with a resort mentality- understands trends, fun, elegant and with really good unbelievable prices. ( Pam, if you send a S.A.S.E. I will send you $2.40 - .10 cents. per word)
You'll find scrumptious hand creams and jewelry, some of it local artist made. I bought the sweetest paper mache bracelet this summer made by Lynda Smythe -a confection of stripes, butterflies in soft pastel corals, gold, pinks and apricots -loved that the interior of the 3/4 inch wide band also had decoration.
Coincidentally, Pam, the interesting collector, was accompanied by a friend and my new friend, Frank Edgerton Martin. Turns out he is one of the Port Henry Seven. (as is, also coincidentally, Lynda Smythe). This gang of insiders and outsiders have a mission to bring culture, a thriving economy and at least one French Restaurant, ( I hope), to Port Henry. Don't bet against them. They are like seven magnificent Samurai, but that could be coincidence also). Frank is a landscape historian. ( www.frankedgertonmartin.com  ) Another great concept linking scenic hiking trails to the village economies is  CATS= Champlain Area Trail System.  www.champlainareatrails.com
 
Noticed Debbie was the proud recipient of an original Sid Couchy painting. She pointed it out when I was drinking coffee and trying to read the Times Headlines (without actually purchasing). 'Tis a great little wee painting of - interestingly - a masculine pink pig - leaning on a fence chatting up a frilly and fluffy feminine sheep with long eyelashes and a hint of pink lip gloss. Anyone familiar with the Little Lotta, Richie Rich or Little Dot Harvey Comics knows Sid Couchey. ( www.facebook.com/pages/Sid-Couchey/143335009015123 ) Proud  to say he and his wife are pretty close neighbors- Mrs. Sid Couchey saved my young Border Collie, Blue , once when we first moved here seven years ago. He ran away to investigate the neighborhood. She saw the number on his tag and called me. Thanks Mrs. Couchey!
Ex. Gov. George Pataki also lives up the road in a large farm with waterfront called The South Farm. Sid painted the large square farm sign by the road so be sure to notice when in the area. When are you going to throw in your hat, George?
I think it is often the case, little Eastern towns, once major players in shaping early history but left in the dust of Manifest Destiny,come round again attaining glorious new heights when some event precipitates a chain-reaction. I-Pads, Phones and technology in general allow connectivity, in turn allowing Manhattanites- as an example- to live here -in the Great White North - at least part of the time. Clearly there is a ripple effect along the Adirondack Coast and it's rousing little towns.
Next week there will be new Store windows, new merch, and more people and stories.
Hey, hang on to your seats because this LITTLE PIGGY HAS WINGS!!