Clandestine Crossing

24 x 30″
acrylic on canvas
Creative Genius Gallery, Medford, NJ

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From K’s journal…
In Hartford Connecticut, we enter into the capital building for a tour. After waiting twenty minutes worth of metered parking, we finally catch a tour. Unfortunately, we are not the only ones. Sixty third graders also join the tour. While they appear to be very intelligent, the tour guide seems to think that she must dumb her presentation down for their sake. The funny thing is that once she opens the floor to questions, the kids blow her away, inquiring about topics that don’t seem to be covered in her “tour guide manual.” We break off from the group because the pace is slow, and we really aren’t interested in relearning, in detail, the three branches of government.

On our self-guided tour, we do learn something new, but I’m sure the third graders already know about it. Not being from Connecticut, we have never heard of what is called the Charter Oak, so we enjoy reading about its fascinating history. This tree is carved into stone above the capital entrance and molded into Connecticut’s quarter. It gained its fame when King James II planned to reclaim control over the seven northern colonies.

The King of England requested return of all charters written by his predecessor, King Charles II. Since this charter gave the colonies independent rule, Connecticut wasn’t happy about returning it to Britain. In fact Connecticut Governor, Robert Treat, refused to return the charter altogether. So in October of 1687, King James II sent Sir Edmund Andros to take it by force. The charter was placed on the meeting table, however before the British could take it back, the candles blew out. Upon regaining light, the soldiers realized that the charter was gone. Legend has it that Captain Joseph Wadsworth of Connecticut hid the Charter in a large oak tree on the grounds of Wyllys Mansion. While the absence of the charter did not detour Britain from reclaiming rule over the colony, it remains in Connecticut to this day. The protecting “Charter Oak” has long fallen, but continues to contain the original document in a large wooden frame made entirely from the tree. Small carvings have also been made from the lumber, and even the governor pays homage while sitting in his “Charter Oak Chair.”

We return to the car to find it covered beneath a delicate layer of leaves, all shaded in a lemon hue. We brush the fragile foliage from our windshield and set off to explore what else the Nutmeg State has to offer. In Bushnell Park, I peak into the clouded glass of a historic carousel that has been boarded up for the season, before we drive by the homes of Samuel Clemens and Harriet Beecher Stowe. We find the most luxurious budget hotel in the entire country, where their complementary breakfast is served to order in their restaurant. It is called the Groton Inn Suites, and since we weren’t able to find a hotel in Rhode Island, we stay here for a couple days. The staff is friendly, and provides great company while I complete a painting that we will take with us to New Jersey. Our participating venue in Connecticut is an art center in Guilford and, upon arrival, we learn that the people there are quite a lively bunch. The woman that I schedule to meet with has a permanent grin, and the wildest hair I ever did see! We are happy to get our photo taken with her, and the entire staff joins in for a great group shot. I love meeting new people because they always give Alfonso and me so much to talk about while driving to our next location!