Chautauqua County in New York State is filled with flavors and colors — five lakes, cornfields, a wine trail, picturesque villages and of course the Amish country! Sujata, my sister-in-law, and I took a 2-day trip through Chautauqua.
Fields of Corn
Driving through Chautauqua we saw an endless expanse of cornfields on either side of the road. I have never seen so much corn! (I read later that 99% of the corn grown in rural America is yellow dent or feed corn and is used as livestock feed or to make plastics, starches, adhesives, and other products.) Keen to take a closer look, we pulled up at a rest stop and walked down to where the corn was growing. I had always assumed that the corn ear —or bhuta as we know it in India—grew at the top of the stalk, but to my surprise I found that it grows at the bottom half of the stalk. Interestingly, each stalk yields only one ear. It was harvesting time in Chautauqua and we were fortunate to watch how they do it. It’s all mechanized—plucking hectares of corn would surely be a tedious and backbreaking job! The combine harvester cuts the stalks, separates the grain from the chaff and pours it in a truck moving alongside, in a single process.
The Lucy Desi Museum
We are both huge fans of the ‘I Love Lucy’ Show and a visit to The Lucy Desi Museum and The Desilu Studios was definitely not to be missed! We saw some of the costumes that Lucy wore on the show and the props she used as well as the recreated set of their apartment. I Love Lucy debuted on June 15, 1951, and had its last show on April 1, 1960. Even today, the show is aired in some part of the world every day!
Cherry Creek Inn
The Cherry Creek Inn was a marvelous find! Situated in the middle of cornfields, it is a lovely bed and breakfast inn that was built in 1860 by George N. Frost, a well-known racehorse breeder and one of Cherry Creek’s founding Fathers. Now managed by Sharon Howe Sweeting, the house is filled with collectibles, memorabilia, and personal treasures collected by her and her husband from their travels around the world. Each room is named after English Royalty and beautifully decorated with Victorian wallpaper and collectibles. The property has many other charming facets:
- The little Indian Tea House draped with cotton fabrics from India – a cozy place to have an afternoon cuppa
- The Mystery Tower, a small room at the top of the house with a plethora of board games and a collection of interesting chess pieces; not to forget a phonograph and old records
- The Barn, which houses an absolutely marvelous collection of over 3,500 books (Sharon is a book lover and was a librarian at the Smithsonian in Washington DC)
- The Pergola, a lovely place to enjoy a cup of coffee and watch the sunrise chase away the morning fog
The most interesting part of our trip was traveling on the Amish Trail, a quiet gentle landscape with rolling hills and farmland. You know you are in an Amish country when you see the ‘horse and buggy’ sign. We were so excited at our first sighting of their horse-driven buggy; sitting inside were two old women dressed in traditional black with white caps.We were fortunate to be introduced to Andrew who patiently answered our questions and gave us a brief glimpse into their way of life. We learned that the Amish don’t call the non-Amish ‘Englishers’ and that their children are educated up to grade 8 after which they are taught a trade.
The Amish are wonderfully creative. They make beautiful handmade products — colorful quilts and rugs, aprons, cloth dolls, bags, woven baskets, wooden toys, carved furniture. They also make homemade jams and jellies, and the most delicious fudge! It was hard to resist and we did indulge in buying a few boxes of fudge made from goat’s milk!