From the expert casts of a few night fisherman to the beautifully built wooden boats headed for an event at the seaport, I was struck by the examples of perfect skill and artisanship we encountered last week in Mystic, Connecticut. Even our meals had the touches that let you know the kitchen is honoring its ingredients.
I love the salty Mystic River air and the bustle of boat traffic. The beach has its charms, but there is something about a working boating community that lends a little excitement to the atmosphere. With a constantly changing view of ships and small boats headed up and down the river, water views are still relaxing yet at the same time invigorating.
When tall-masted ships or other large vessels approach the downtown center, they cannot pass unless the historic bascule bridge is raised. Watching it in action is impressive – the mechanics, the enormous concrete counterweights – and locals and visitors will gather as spectators when the bell signals the rising of the drawbridge.
We staked out a seat along the river one night to take in the bridge and the passing boats and lingered there into the evening. A few fishermen also staked out their spots, and well into the evening cast their lines with sheer precision as they targeted feeding activity near the surface. With a short flick of the wrist, one of the fishermen would cast his line underneath the others without disrupting those already in place. The movements were so perfectly skilled that they appeared effortless.
With the fishermen gone, the next morning we turned our attention once again to the vessels passing through town on their way to the wooden boat show. We weren’t able to stay for the actual event, but luckily we caught some of the pre-show preparation. On the seaport quad, there were kayaks and rowboats constructed from what once was a jigsaw of wooden pieces. Richly stained, each piece rested perfectly in place. The carpenters and boat builders balanced utilitarian design with decorative touches by necessity. After all the admiration, the boats are bound to return to the river.
Moments where we witnessed – and sometimes tasted – the perfect execution of skill naturally presented themselves during our getaway. Unpacked and settled back at home, I am invigorated to discover even more true artisanship on my daily travels.