What to do on a rainy day in early June in the North Country? My fingers are too soggy from gardening in the wet dirt to do any more of that, so we opted for going sight-seeing. We'd heard there's a new market/deli in Essex. We hadn't had lunch and we also hadn't checked the Lake Champlain lake levels lately, so off we went. Bear and our new puppy, Duke (an 11 week old Lab, Great Dane mix you'll surely be hearing more about), were also in tow.
Driving to Essex from Lake Placid in early summer is one of the most beautiful drives I know. The route traverses the mountains and foothills of the High Peaks, and on into the farmlands of the Champlain Valley, passing through some of the most picturesque countryside around, with views right out of a Currier & Ives lithograph. The rain stopped as we drove through Elizabethtown and on to the Elizabethtown-Wadhams Road, allowing us better viewing of the beautiful countryside, which winds alongside the Boquet River. Early wildflowers are in bloom now and the green of the landscape is the most amazing chartreuse this time of year. Passing through Wadhams the fantastic view of Wadhams Falls in the center of town is a head-turner - literally.
As we continued on toward Essex, new shoots were beginning to appear in the freshly planted farm fields of Essex Farms, making me crave some of the awesome sweet corn we produce here in summer.
Arriving in Essex we parked and started looking for the Essex Provisions sign, not knowing exactly where it's located, only that it overlooks the water. Essex is alive with both new and well-established businesses, opening up, dusting off and getting ready for the season that's nearly upon us here in the Adirondacks and the Champlain Coast. A walk along Essex' Main Street makes me want to live in a "neighborhood" again - a little. Small town life is personified here in this quaint little community on the shore of Lake Champlain. You can feel the closeness of the residents and businesses along the street as you walk along being greeted by absolutely everyone. It's a nice thing.
We located Essex Provisions next to the Essex Marina entrance. It's a great location overlooking the piers and the old tin roofs of the marina complex! It made me feel like I was at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey! Upon entering the freshly painted and artfully decorated store, you'll find a welcoming atmosphere with a beautiful display of provisions (of course) and more. Stephanie Wilber and Diane Purdy, proprietors, are well-known in the business, having owned Keene Valley Marketplace for a number of years prior to selling it a couple of years ago. A big ol' soup kettle invites you to self serve, which we did. It was a good soup day. Phenomenal is the best word for the very hearty chicken and vegetable soup, so chock full it was almost like stew. We sat eating our soup on the back deck overlooking the lake, festooned with wind chimes made from old silver flatware and took in the view of the Green Mountains of Vermont far in the distance. The lake level is still very high, so the marina has yet to launch any boats, but the owners assured us the water's been receding fairly quickly the past few days.
Inside the establishment, temptingly fresh baked goods are on display in front of the open kitchen. Coolers are filled with beverages and dairy, including GIANT fresh eggs raised by New York's former first lady, Libby Pataki, at their country home, South Farm, just down the road from the village. The eggs are so big the lids won't close on the egg crates, which are complete with a vintage South Farm label shellacked to the top! Diane informed us the Patakis are regular customers since opening day two weeks ago.
I actually think there were some papparazzi hanging around outside trying to get some pictures of the former Governor and his wife (or maybe they were interesting in hijacking my eggs!). Of course, they could have just as easily been taking pictures of my famous self and my husband. Come to think of it, I think they did snap some shots of us. Now I know what being chased by the papparazzi is like - in Essex, New York, no less! Whodathunkit. I love Essex!