Traditional Bark Basket Workshop June 24

Native Americans have created baskets for centuries. In fact, archeologists believe that baskets making is one of the oldest known crafts in the world. If you have always wanted to learn how to create a Native American bark basket, join the workshop conducted by Jennifer Lee of Pequot and Narragansett ancestry on June 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Institute of American Indian Studies located on 38 Curtis Road in Washington, Connecticut.

About Native American Baskets

Native American baskets range from very simple to very elaborate and the art of basket making was passed down from generation to generation among Native American Indian mothers to their daughters.

The first step in bark basket making was the harvesting of pine, ash or birch bark in the spring. The bark was then folded into the shape of a container and sewn together with spruce root and rimmed with Arrowwood or Red Osier Dogwood. Bark baskets made by Eastern Woodland Indians were used for cooking, gathering berries, hauling water, storing food, as cradleboards and even for burying the dead.

About the Workshop

Jennifer Lee is an 18th-century re-enactor and material culture presenter that offers a variety of programs including bark basket making demonstrations and workshops. She portrays an Algonkian woman of the 1750 era. Lee is also a teller of history and traditional stories. “I want my programs to dispel old stereotypes and increase awareness of present-day Native Americans.”

Participants in this workshop will learn about the lore and tradition of basket making while creating their very own bark basket. Lee will guide participants through the process of creating a bark basket using white pine bark, spruce root, and willow. Participants can choose from three different basket designs and are sure to treasure their creation at the end of the day.

To participate in this workshop, please pre-register by calling (860) 868-0518 or emailing to reserve your spot. The cost of this workshop ranges from $50 to $60 depending on the basket that you choose to make. Please note that prepayment is required.

Five Great Reasons to Take the Morning Yoga Cruise June with the Seaport Association

The 5000-year-old ancient tradition of yoga, originating in India, continues to gain popularity in the U.S. A study conducted by the Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal found that the number of people doing yoga is up from 20.4 million in 2012 to 36.7 million in 2016 and that 34% or roughly 80 million Americans say that they are somewhat or very likely to practice yoga in the next twelve months. With this in mind, the Seaport Association of Norwalk has put together the Morning Yoga Cruise to Sheffield Island on June 30 from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

This relaxing excursion begins with an early morning ferry ride to Sheffield Island. Early morning is one of the most beautiful times of day to be on the water. Once on the island, there will be a one-hour session with Yoga Instructor, Amanda Boe who has received her YTT certification from the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Boe has also been a student of many yoga teachers from around the globe. “I believe that yoga is a great equalizer, and teaching yoga offers balance in a hectic world.”

Five Reasons to take the Morning Yoga Cruise

1. Get Ready to Unplug. Turn off your cell phone and get ready to engage your senses to the sounds of the sea. Practicing yoga on the very private Sheffield Island with no more than 49 other participants is exhilarating. Here, you will experience the kind of quiet that allows you to listen and become one with the sounds of the island leaving the work a day world far behind. This is the kind of quiet that expands your senses and allows you to unwind as you breathe deeply, smell the fresh salt air, and listen to the mysteries of the wind.

2. Gain a Sense of Inner Calm. Yoga helps quiet the mind and teaches us how to step back from our churning thoughts and anxieties. Many people practice yoga to “de-stress,” which in turn, reduces its physical effects on the body. Yoga encourages relaxation, which helps lower the level of stress hormones like cortisol. It is also known that when we are less stressed we sleep better; several studies have shown that yoga improves sleep quality. Lowering stress also lowers blood pressure and slows the heart rate, improves digestion, and boosts the immune system.

3. Improve your Flexibility and General Fitness. Yoga is a full body workout that improves flexibility, and more importantly, mobility. Flexibility is what makes it easier to complete everyday movements like kneeling, bending or reaching; certain yoga holds build functional strength where you really need it. Yoga also increases your mobility by making it easier to accomplish these things. As an added bonus, yoga is exercise and you will burn calories doing it!

4. Learn to Breathe. Think of breathing as an endless feedback loop. One of the central purposes of yoga is to bring awareness to the way emotions affect breathing. When practicing yoga you will learn to breathe differently and how to use this knowledge in everyday situations. To “take a deep breath” is much more than just a saying, taking a deep breath is sometimes the only thing between you and saying something you will regret. Among the many health benefits to the heart, brain and immune system, deep breathing keeps the body in its naturally slightly alkalinized state.

5. Connect with yourself. Yoga is about becoming attuned to our individual self. The word yoga means “union” and refers to the union of mind, body, and spirit. The beauty of the Sunrise Yoga Cruise is that this time away allows participants to set aside a few hours to rejuvenate and connect or reconnect with their inner thoughts. The natural beauty of Sheffield Island, the sound of the waves, the chatter of birds, and the sea breeze provide a perfect backdrop to give yourself an hour or so just let yourself go or to sort everything out.

About the Morning Yoga Cruise

The Sunrise Cruise and Yoga Session is for adults only. It is open to all skill levels and to anyone looking to enjoy a serene ferry ride to Sheffield Island followed by an hour of yoga. Fresh fruit and water will be provided.

The boat leaves from the Sheffield Island Lighthouse Dock located at the corner of North Water Street and Washington Street in historic South Norwalk. Parking is available adjacent to the dock and the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium Garage.

Tickets are $40 ($42.39 with service fee) and may be purchased online by clicking here.

CT’s Beardsley Zoo Welcomes Eight Spur-Thigh Tortoises

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo welcomes eight spur-thigh tortoises (Geochelone sulcata) who are making the Zoo their home for the summer. The African spur thigh tortoise, also known as the spurred tortoise, is the third largest species of tortoise in the world, after the Galapagos tortoise and the Aldabra giant tortoise. It is the largest of all mainland tortoises.

“Summertime is the right time, so it’s a great time to bring such special animals here as our temporary guests,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “Tortoises also love summer heat, and the spur thigh tortoise is particularly well-adapted to hot temperatures. Also there is the educational message that these wonderful animals do not make good pets! Make wise not wild choices!”

“The Zoo will be home to the tortoises until sometime this fall,” added Dancho. “Guests can find them next to the Victorian Greenhouse.”

African spur thigh tortoises are large, and push and knock over heavy objects with ease. One of their unusual behaviors is that they may ram each other, with males especially ramming females. The force with which one tortoise rams another can be intimidating, given their strength. They are generally slow moving, however, in order to conserve energy. They dig burrows in the ground to take shelter from their harsh, hot habitat, with some tunnel systems extending ten or more feet underground. Adult tortoises average 18 inches in shell length and 70-100 pounds in weight. Specimens reaching two to three feet length and more than 150 pounds, however, are not uncommon.

They are able to go weeks without food. In the wild, they mainly eat grasses and leaves of desert scrub. They get the water they need from the plants they eat. African spur thigh tortoises’ conservation status is listed currently as vulnerable, due to habitat loss and over collection for the pet trade.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is closer than you think and open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Adult admission (ages 12 & older) is $15.00, children (ages 3 -11) is $12.00, senior admission (62 and older) is just $11.00, and children under 3 years old are free. Zoo members also are admitted free. Parking at the Zoo is free of charge.

About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo: About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo:

Spend the day a world away! Connecticut’s only zoo, celebrating its 96thanniversary this year, features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. Guests won’t want to miss our Amur (Siberian) tigers and tiger cubs, maned wolf family with three pups, Amur leopards, Brazilian ocelot, Mexican wolves, sloths, and Golden Lion tamarins. Other highlights include our South American rainforest with free-flight aviary, the prairie dog exhibit with “pop-up” viewing areas, the New England Farmyard with goats, cows, pigs, sheep, and other barnyard critters, plus the hoofstock trail featuring bison, pronghorn, deer, and more. Guests can grab a bite at the Peacock Café, eat in the Picnic Grove, and enjoy a ride on our colorful, indoor carousel. For more information, visit

Get Over Hump Day with the Seaport Association

Having made it through Monday and Tuesday, come Wednesday some folks need a little extra motivation to get to the weekend! The Seaport Association in Norwalk is offering a series of adult only acoustic cruises through Norwalk Harbor and Islands every Wednesday in June, July, August, and September to get you over the hump!

This two-hour cruise departing at 6:30 p.m. and returning at 8:30 p.m. has the added attraction of a beautiful sunset on the water. Imagine listing to the serene sounds of music while watching the sky fade into dusk amid the glimmer of city lights. The views are fantastic and so is the music…it is like attending your very own private concert on the water with 48 other friends!

On June 20, join the New Orleans Beatniks on an evening cruise and relax to the music of New Orleans with a little bit of funk and a lot of soul! Their unique musical style and the way they interact with their audience will make this cruise unforgettable.

On June 27, Pierce Campbell will perform. Campbell was appointed as the Connecticut State Troubadour for 2007-2008, and is well known as a storyteller and a fabulously talented guitar, piano and acoustic base player. Passengers will unwind to his well-crafted songs, his rich and powerful voice and dazzling guitar work, with a story or two thrown in to round out an excellent night of entertainment.

To add to the ambiance, don’t forget to pack a picnic snack and your favorite bottle of wine or beer.

How to Book the Cruise

The Seaport Wednesday Acoustic Cruise is available in June, July, August, and September. The vessel leaves the dock at 6:30 p.m. and returns at 8:30 p.m. Passengers should arrive 30 minutes before departure, boarding begins at 6:15 p.m. Passengers are welcome to bring snacks and their favorite bottle of wine or beer aboard…don’t forget to bring plastic glasses! The vessel leaves from the Sheffield Island Lighthouse Dock located at the corner of North Water Street and Washington Street in historic South Norwalk. Parking is available adjacent to the dock and the Norwalk Maritime Garage. Tickets for this Adult cruise only is $25 ($26.87 with service fee). For tickets click here

About the Seaport Association

The Seaport Association was founded in 1978 by a group of local citizens in Norwalk who had a vision to revitalize South Norwalk and preserve Norwalk’s maritime heritage. This year makes the 150 anniversary of the Sheffield Island Lighthouse.

The Norwalk Seaport Association offers a cultural, environmental, and historical journey to the Norwalk Islands. The Sheffield Island Lighthouse and the Light Keeper’s Cottage provide a unique historical and educational venue that strives to increase awareness, appreciation and consideration for our environment and how the preservation of historic buildings and nature contribute to our quality of life.

It is our belief that preservation strengthens the perpetual partnership between the past, the present and the future. The combination of the Lighthouse and the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge offers an unparalleled opportunity to educate children of all ages and adults about the importance of preserving Long Island Sound, our environment and maritime heritage.

Two New Exhibits @ Litchfield Historical Society

The Litchfield Historical Society, located on 7 South Street in Litchfield has curated two exhibitions that will run through November 25, 2018.

The major exhibit this year is By the Virtue of its Citizens: Educating a New Nation at Sarah Pierce’s Academy. The exhibition explores the innovative educational philosophy of the school’s founder, Sarah Pierce, and its influence on later social and educational reforms. It also investigates the lively social and intellectual community created by the Litchfield Female Academy and the Litchfield Law School.

Items from the Litchfield Historical Society’s extensive collection of artifacts and archives from the Litchfield Female Academy will be on display, as well as several ornamental arts pieces on loan from regional institutions.
Also featured is the Litchfield Historical Society’s newest acquisition: a portrait miniature of a young Miss Sarah Pierce!

The second exhibition is titled To Weep with Those Who Weep: Mourning Practices in Litchfield. Mourning practices of the 19th century were largely affected by the death of George Washington, with an increase in memorializing the dead. The exhibit documents the tangible and intangible manifestations of loss in Litchfield and the surrounding area.

Stories of loss within the community form the basis of the exhibit, highlighting correspondence sharing condolences, discussing funerals, and reflecting on life and death. The exhibit will also touch upon reactions of Litchfield Female Academy students to death. Artwork portraying those in mourning and those being mourned will be on display, as well as poems written for those who died and objects created in their memory.

Books, Blooms and Garden Tours in Cornwall

The village of Cornwall is rolling out the red carpet on Saturday, June 9 in an annual townwide festival. Participating in the events being hosted by a wide variety of groups in this gem of a village gives visitors the experience what life is like in small-town America.

The Cornwall Library will be hosting a Books and Blooms Sale, as well as a country garden tour from 10, am to 4 pm. The garden tour will include four country gardens including those of Jane Garmey, Juliet and John Hubbard, Lynden B. Miller and Amelia Starr and Matthew Ziehl, click here for more information and tickets. The Library will also be selling new and out of print gardening books at the Library located on 30 Pine Street in Cornwall.

In the village of West Cornwall, on Rte. 128 by the Covered Bridge, the Souterrain Art Gallery is hosting an artist reception for Peter Joslin, Trout Markings and Landscapes in collaboration with the Housatonic Valley Association from 3 pm – 6 pm. Don’t miss browsing at The Wish House, located above the gallery, one of the most interesting shops in the Litchfield Hills. On the lawn of the Wish House, where the Farmers Market is held, there will be a workshop for kids where they can build a tinkerwagon with Joe Brien of Lost Arts Workshop form 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

If you like furniture, pop into Ian Ingersoll Cabinet Makers and check out the shaker furniture made there and don’t miss a visit to Cornwall Bridge pottery that displays a wide array of pots, lamps, bowls and many other objects, all handmade in Cornwall Connecticut.

For the outdoorsy, the Cornwall Conservation Trust is welcoming visitors at their new office and exhibit space on 9 Railroad Street and, Clarke Outdoors and Trout Unlimited is planning specials for the day, click here for details.

Westport Historical Society To Hold 27th Annual Hidden Garden Tour June 10th

Westport Historical Society’s 27th Annual Hidden Garden Tour, a
vibrant and beautiful tradition that highlights gem-like spaces normally unseen by the public, will
take place on June 10th this year. Five beautiful, inspiring gardens will be on view from 11am to
4pm, and landscape designers, arborists, and garden hosts will share information about how they
created the spaces and maintain their plants, trees, and garden aesthetics.

At Thistle Cottage gardens in Westport, you will be transported into a delightful world of formal
and whimsical garden “rooms”, designed by the artist owner. An English rose garden with an
Italian fountain takes center stage, with five enchanting and unique spaces that surround.
At the Bulkley Barn, an 1820s onion barn which has been meticulously restored, you can see
post-and-beam construction with the original stone foundations and antique farm equipment.
This historic barn is situated in naturalized deer resistant woodland gardens containing ferns,
Solomon’s Seal, Trillium, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Trout Lily and Mountain Laurel – all ideal for a
natural shady garden.

In Weston, a 225-year-old colonial farmhouse, on its 3-acre grounds, is noted for its 30 varieties
of peonies- from those with classic to blooms to others that hit the high notes in the full range of
floral types. For over a 30-year period, the owner, a landscape designer, has added carefully
chosen exotic specimen trees to the space – such as Coral Maple, Paper-Bark Maple and Forest
Pansy Redbud.

Upon entry to the unique Blau Garden in Westport, cherubs and Roman sculptures punctuate
beds near the circular drive and a folly of Astilbe-filled terrace beds are surrounded by stone
retaining walls and steps. The property features an allée of Pollarded Crabapples leading to a
Neptune fountain circle surrounded by gorgeous Norway spruce; whilst bamboo groves form a
backdrop to the Asian garden with a substantial Buddha, waterfalls, and trickling stream
complete with Water Lilies, Water Iris and a grass garden. Additionally, the sunken rose garden
is framed by stunning stone retaining walls with boxwood parterre and fountain pools.
For the first time, one of Westport’s oldest and most famous estates opens its splendid gates and
gardens for the famed annual WHS Tour.

This timeless treasure was originally built in the 19th Century, and has been preserved and maintained by generations of gardening aficionados.

In addition to the tour, unique items for gardeners and garden lovers from local artisans and
businesses will be available for sale at the Wheeler House Garden Market on Westport Historical
Society’s front lawn, 25 Avery Place, from 9am to 4pm. Vendors include: Cynthia Alexander,
Emmy Starr Designs, Grace Connell Designs, Jean Forte Vintage Gifts, M & F Antique Prints, MCK
Gourmet and Savannah Bee. A pop-up shop featuring a selection of items especially from The
Shop at Wheeler House will be open at the Bulkley Barn with an elegant outdoor/garden theme.
Thank you to our sponsors: Berchem, Moses, PC., Brown’s Monument Works, Sachs Walsh
Insurance, Maplewood Senior Living, Newman’s Own Foundation, The LaurelRock Company,
Darton and Company, Oliver Nurseries and Design Associates, The Care of Trees, Edward F.
Gerber, Chris and Jim Corgel, JMKA | architects, Terrain Café, Amis Trattoria, Arlene and Marty
Yolles, Connecticut Arborists, Gilbertie’s Herb and Garden Center. Special Thanks to: Miggs
Burroughs, Shake Shack and Connecticut Cottages & Gardens.

Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place, Westport, Sunday, June 10, 11 am – 4 pm, Garden
Market, 9 am to 4 pm. Tickets $50 for members, $60 for non-members, $75 Day of Tour.
For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit or call 203-222-1424