January 6th, 2014

Escaping the Cold

underIt’s time to get away. From it all. From the cold, from the snow, from everyone’s constant social media updates about the cold and snow…  And there are more ways to escape than yet another episode of House Hunters International.  So pack up your imaginary suitcase and click “play” on your remote to savor a feast of escape movie treats. It’s time to escape the winter cold snap blues with some magical films (all available at the library!)

A personal favorite is Under the Tuscan Sun, the film version of Frances Mayes’ successful book of the same name.  When Frances is talked into going to Italy to help her get over her recent divorce,  she finds herself so in love with the sun-drenched, laid-back lifestyle that she abandons her tour group and recklessly buys a near-ruin of a villa in Tuscany.  How she renovates it and finds love, friendship, and a new life there results in a captivating story that will warm your winter heart.

a_good_year-dvdBask in some Provencal sunshine with A Year in Provence,  starring John Thaw—of Inspector Morse fame—loosely based on the bestselling books by Peter Mayle.  Here an ad executive chucks it all—as the author really did—to live in the south of France, slow down and write of the local food, wine, and eccentric villagers.  In A Good Year, also based on a book by Mayle, a high-pressure executive (played by Russell Crowe) travels to France to sort out the vineyard he inherits. Of course, it proves to be a life changer for him.

Back to Italy again to serve up Bread and Tulips, a delightful story of a housewife, who, after her family forgets her at an auto rest stop, decides to hitchhike to Venice.  The life she finds there what she has always wanted, but when her mother-in-law tracks her down and tells her she must return to her family, will she give up her new-found happiness?

breadIn Enchanted April,  two English ladies escape dreary London for a stay at a magical Italian villa.

Do you sense a theme here—France, Italy—sun-kissed locales—escape?

Then, if you haven’t had enough, there are travel videos such as Rick Steves’ Europe. Check out the one titled Italy’s Countryside for an unforgettable hike around the Cinque Terre—Italian hill towns—and Brava Italia, a four hour feast that tracks the whole of Italy, indulging in the food, wine, villages and famous sights, all set to the most evocative music that will have you reaching for a glass of wine yourself.

Il Postino (The Postman) is the story of a postman who delivers mail to the famous poet, Pablo Neruda, and looks to him to help him write poetic and convincing missives to the waitress he is in love with. Set along the scenic Sicilian coast, it is a quiet and mesmerizing testament to the power of poetry.

chocolatChocolat, starring Juliet Binoche, Johnny Depp and Judi Dench, is about a woman and her daughter who open a chocolate shop in a small French village.  Their sensuous approach to chocolate is unique and shakes up the rigid morality of the townspeople, showing them how to love, laugh and live.

Finally, a little gem of an escape movie that for so many people has become an all-time favorite: Local Hero.   An oil company sends a rep to Scotland to buy up an entire village to build a refinery, and although the townspeople are receptive to the idea, it is the rep who has a change of heart. The lives of the colorful inhabitants are played out against the haunting beauty of the seacoast town, where the Northern Lights are visible on any given night.

So pack up your imaginary suitcase and escape to sunny lands and remote villages. Best of all, these titles are available for free through Cecil County Public Library.

What’s your favorite movie escape?


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September 20th, 2011

George Washington DID Sleep Here!

george-washingtonIf you’ve ever driven through Charlestown, Maryland, perhaps you slowed down a bit to catch this magical microcosm of American history.  Your eye may have been caught by the picket fence fronting the double-galleried porch of the “Indian Queen Tavern.”  Or perhaps your curiosity was piqued by the more modest  Red Lyon Tavern, located right next door.  As you drove through this little waterfront town, maybe you admired the lovely historical homes along the coastline and wondered what life was like way back when…

Imagine then, the horses and stage coaches of the past clip-clopping along this Old Post Road, halfway on their journey between  Baltimore  and Philadelphia. Visitors would disembark into the taverns for a warm bed and a satisfying drink of ale by the fire.  One of those travelers was certainly George Washington, for he recorded such visits in his own diaries. Charlestown was a thriving colonial town, a major port and the county seat.

The history behind these buildings and others in colonial Charlestown will be revealed in a talk given by local historian Audrey Edwards at the North East Branch Library on Tues. Sept. 27th at 6:30pm.  Please call 410-996-6269 to register.  Ms. Edwards will discuss ghosts and secrets of the past, found in remnants of an era long gone:  old leather shoes, chalkboards from a schoolhouse, tankards from a tavern, and many other artifacts she has unearthed.  Step back in time to this fascinating little town, Charlestown, and relive a bit of American history!

Which Cecil County town is your favorite for its history?


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