A Little Backroad Therapy Between the Seasons in Easton NY

Saturday, March 26, 2022

 In a world where it's rare to find a consensus about anything these days, it seems that almost everyone is ready for spring, especially if you live in the northeast.  We're finished with the cold, the snow, and the wind, and we're longing for moderating temperatures, trees to leaf out and the ground to transition from muddy beige to vivid green.  Those of us who enjoy photographing outdoors are anxious for things to 'pretty up'.  I knew it was too early to find anything of what I just described when we headed out yesterday in search of a little backroad therapy, but I also knew that I was headed to my happy place and it wouldn't matter what color, or lack of it, I found. 

I'd feel better for having gone.  That happy place is Easton, NY and even though we only had time for a short jaunt, my 'session' was just was the doctor ordered.

I can't help myself from seeing things in analogies on our rides, and yesterday was no different.  As we drove over familiar, repeated routes in Easton, I couldn't help but notice that things looked a little bleak.  Without the lush green cornfields we see in summer, the autumnal glow of fall or the snow white brightness of winter, the Easton landscape felt a little dull and unattractive.  As I processed this disappointment, feeling sad that I might not capture any good photos, it occurred to me that at this transitional phase between winter and spring, the landscape was a sort of 'clean slate'....past the dead of winter and just before the emergence of new life of spring.  That clean slate reminded me of what we are like after we make it through difficult times, catching our breath, processing recovery and ready for better times.  We are a clean slate waiting for opportunity and possibility.  This may not be a good example of 'clean' slate......

In some ways it's sort of like covid.  Even though we seem to be past the worst of it, the continued new variants popping up keep us from completely letting down our guard to embrace life without fear.  We're between seasons, our slate is clean but we are not yet fully ready to let go and embrace the new season.  We are past the worst of winter, but there are still some cold and windy days to endure before we're in the clear.  

What I happily figured out on our drive was that despite the dreary landscape, there was plenty of beauty to be found.   If we kept our eyes wide open and paid close attention, there were things visible yesterday that are pretty obscured in the density of summer foliage.  When we first headed out, I almost turned back, discouraged by some lingering clouds and disappointed by the dull landscape.  There are days in life when we just want to give up, bury our head in our covers and wait for another day to venture out.  Had I succumbed to that feeling yesterday, I would have missed some pretty cool sights....and the parting clouds and bright sun.  

 Life can be challenging and it can test our endurance and our faith.  Sometimes it feels like we're never going to escape from a difficult season.  I hope that if you're in one of those seasons in your life, you'll see these photos as a reminder that even in our darkest days, there's something to appreciate, something to be thankful for and something to look forward to.  Warmer, brighter days are ahead and if you haven't been able to see that, I hope that this reminds you that spring always shows up.   Until it does, hang on tight and look for the things that make you happy.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll come back soon for more Life As I See It. In the meantime, to read more posts like this one, check out my blog Directory.

When Shopping Brings All the 'Feels' of Home - The Speckled Hen

Tuesday, March 8, 2022
 "She makes it feel like “coming home” each time I come. So warm and welcoming" is how Susan W. describes a visit to The Speckled Hen.  

I've been blogging about the Speckled Hen since my first visit in 2015 but many customers have been shopping at the Hen since it opened ten years ago.  As Maureen launches her 11th year, what keeps her awake at night is not the stress of owning a shop, or the hassles that may come with owning a business during Covid.  No, what fills Maureen's thoughts and heart both night and day is gratitude, gratitude for the customers who over time have become more like family.  Through the years, Maureen has been a part of her customer's lives from new babies to new homes, life's joys and life's sorrows - season after season.  Her customers don't view her just as a shop owner, Maureen becomes a friend, and confidant, someone they visit to escape from the daily grind of life.  And she feels the same about them!

The moment I arrived I felt welcome! Its a happy place in these dark times!" says Cyn.   Mary Ann says, "It's always been a place that's made me happy, and sometimes a relief from the realities of life. "  And Lisa says, "I am from North Carolina. I come to the area several times a year to help my parents. I try to get a visit in to your shop each time. Things can be stressful in caring for elderly parents but your place is a wonderful healthy respite of peaceful calm and beauty!" 

"It's a complete feeling the minute you open the door....from Charlie's greeting, and the smell....ohhhh,.that glorious smell!!!" said Morgan.    And Jennifer says, "I am from Indiana originally- I love how your store makes me feel back home when I walk in. No place quite like it around here." What I love best is that the minute you walk in the door it is calm, relaxing, and beautiful! - Patty  "Love that you remember everyone and help with designing a piece when I need help". - Amanda

Unlike shopping in big box stores, shopping at the Speckled Hen is like shopping with a Personal Shopper.  Not only does Maureen always have the most beautiful items, she creates vignettes that inspire.  And when we're not able to whip up our own decorating magic, Maureen is ready and anxious to help her customers put together exactly what they wished they could have coordinated themselves.

"Maureen, you just can just put anything together and make it beautiful." -Alice  "I love the Hen because every time I come in, Maureen will put a design together that is exactly what my home needs." - Susan    

 Doreen says, "What I love about your shop is I always find what I am looking for to help decorate my Home! When I decorate for everyday or Christmas, my friends say my home looks like the Speckled Hen🙂."  And Teresa says, "you have been so helpful in teaching me how to accessorize my home. And what I love most is the warm feeling I get when I come and I always leave with little tips in decorating."

 And from Phyllis, "This shop is delightful, friendly, and makes me feel so good flowing around from room to room. I get that feeling of being in my favorite candy store when I was little."

What customers appreciate and are quick to point out again and again is the hospitality and warmth that is extended to every customer who enters.  Cindy says, "Maureen is so down to earth and so nice to talk to and I love your pup!❤" 

Charlene says, "Maureen you are so caring and so much fun!  You have helped me put together so many gifts and you really give your all to help achieve the perfect gift! You are a treasure!"  Meaghan says, "I love the smell when I walk in, the fact that you are so sweet and friendly that you will hold and entertain my babies while I shop, and I always leave with something that I love when I leave."  One comment really said it well, " I love your florals, but the best part is you!! You are so friendly and passionate about your decor...it is contagious!" Maureen's joy and enthusiasm for her shop and all that entails definitely is contagious. 

 I and everyone who has shopped at the Hen can testify to Maureen's genuine passion for her shop and the sincere joy she gets, not only in making it one of the most visually pleasing shops around, but the joy it brings to each and every customer who walks through its doors.  Joy....pure and unbridled joy.  Maureen wants her shop to be a refuge, a respite where people can escape and detox from the troubles of the world.  The atmosphere and the joy it brings is not an accident, it's intentional.  I think it's only fitting that on the International Woman's Day, we shine the spotlight on this amazing woman!

One customer summed it up perfectly, "I have been coming since the beginning. Countless trips and there have been times I’ve made 2 trips in 1 day.  Always leave walking sideways because I have too many bags. It’s not just about all the beautiful things in the shop it’s about a connection for life." - Lisa

 The Speckled Hen isn't just a shop, it's a place where people make a 'connection' and leave that place feeling differently than when they went in.  It's a place we all go knowing we'll come home with beautiful pieces for our home, but it's also a place we go knowing we'll be greeted with open arms, a listening ear and shoulder to cry on, a respite from the troubles weighing us down.  Whether we leave with one bag of goodies or laden with many, we leave feeling good. That, in essence, is what 90+ comments on just one of Maureen's Facebook posts sums up. 

You've heard me sing the praises of The Speckled Hen for years and now you know I'm not alone when I say there's no better place to shop and support local small business (and feel good while you're doing it) than at the Hen.  I had a chance to get a preview of all the goodness awaiting you tomorrow when Maureen re-opens the shop for her 11th season.  Here's a sneak peak so you can plan your visit soon.

If you're a customer of the Speckled Hen, today's post doesn't tell you anything you didn't already know, but I hope you'll take the opportunity to share it with someone you know who could use a little joy in their life. The Speckled Hen is located at 38 Saratoga Road (Route 50) in Glenville NY. Please check their Facebook page for more information and to follow their page.
As always, thanks for stopping by Life As I See It.  Check out my Directory for more posts like this one.

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