Tag Archives: Beautiful view

Single House Islands… So Many of Them!

Oh yeah, we were talking about the Thousand Islands. What really really enchanted me about the place were the cute little islands with just one home on them. Of course, these are summer dwellings as it will be physically impossible to live in the middle of a frozen river in the winter. Or would it? Imagine sledding to go visit your neighbour! 🙂

The most picturesque of all the houses, is this little gem, with the water and water birds almost coming up to the front steps.


In fact, if you get out of the back door, you will be stepping directly into the water!


There are no industries emitting effluence into the St. Lawrence river and the boats on the river have to adhere to strict cleanliness regulations. Also, it is a crime, punishable by law, for a resident to throw any garbage into the river. Thus the water of the St. Lawrence river is extremely clean and clear. Even at a depth of meters, you can make out the dark patches of the rocky river bottom.


Look at another red house. This one has more trees around it, and it has its own boat jetty.


This barge like house is built covering the entire width of the narrow island, like someone picked up and placed it there precisely.


Some of the large islands have common power generation facilities. And recently, underwater power connections have been introduced to a few islands located closer to the mainland. But most of the islands depend on individual generators and battery power for household needs.
See the neat boat house at the side of this house? The tree look huge, comparatively.


This house is directly under the tree. Hot summer’s day, blue chair, heavenly breeze… aah!


Perfect oval of an island. Can’t really see the boat house hidden among the trees.


There are no natural springs or waterfalls anywhere on the islands to provide drinking water. So the islanders have to bring their own water from the mainland. For cleaning and washing needs, water from the river is used.


Here is a blue house among blue waters! Step off the boat and you are directly on the deck of the house.


What do you do with your household garbage when you are located in the middle of water? And it is a crime to throw anything in the water? Not to worry, garbage collection is done regularly, by a barge nicknamed ‘honey barge’.


Here is a house located at the extreme end of the island. Also, I believe there is a pathway built to the neighbouring island.


While our boat passed by, the two guys sitting on the deck chugging beer waved to us. Many of the houses are owned by weekenders who live and work elsewhere during the week.


The Wau-Winet Island was written up in New York Times a while back.


Tourist guides on the boats always tell the story of the Zavikon Islands, owned by the same person and connected by a bridge but located in two countries. And how it is the shortest international bridge. Our guide was no exception… he spoke of the owner telling him about the convenience of being able to escape to another country for a while, whenever he had a little spat with his wife. (I could see the wistful looks on the faces of many a man on the boat!) And the boats stop around that area for a photo-op. However, that story has been debunked; both islands are in Canada!


Apparently the owner likes the fake story and is encouraging the telling of it, by displaying the different flags prominently on the little bridge.
After seeing the small houses, let’s take a look at the huge castles next.


23 Sep 2014

The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Every person in the city, whether a native New Yorker or a visitor, has heard of the Metropolitan Museum. And a majority would have been there too, at least once. But that is not the case with the Cloisters, located at the top of Manhattan. Though it is a branch of the Met, not many people are familiar with this unique museum.


The Cloisters Museum and Gardens is focused on the art and architecture of medieval Europe, mainly from 12th to 15th centuries.


In fact, the whole place is designed on the architectural principles of a cloister in medieval Europe, though not modelled on any particular one, instead borrowing features from many.


When you see the museum, you will realise the appropriateness of the name as cloisters were living spaces for the monks, attached to cathedrals and churches in medieval European history.


The building with its stained glass windows and column capitals truly exudes an aura of grandeur and you feel like you are stepping into a long gone age of chanting monks leading a secluded life.


Among the decorative and liturgical art collection from various parts of Europe on display are illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, metalwork, enamels, ivories, and tapestries.


Most renowned among them are a series of seven tapestries, ‘The Hunt for the Unicorn’, commonly known as the Unicorn Tapestries.


These tapestries tell the story of how the unicorn is captured and killed, yet alive again and happily living in captivity. Leaving aside the allegorical allusions aside, these tapestries are full of rich details. Over a hundred plants and flowers are shown in detail, each bearing a significance to the story. A trip to the Cloisters is worth just to look at this set of tapestries; they are so rich and wonderful.


The gardens at the Cloisters are unique in the sense that they are aligned with the culinary arts. There are all kinds of plants, fruit bearing trees and herbs used in the preparation and flavouring of food. Also, there are many medicinal plants as well. These are plants that played a prominent part in the daily lives of the people living then.


For example, you will see woad, weld and madder plants that were used in the dyeing of material in blue, yellow and red respectively. And remember, these are the colours used to colour the threads in the tapestries that we just spoke about.
Intriguingly, there is a section of the garden devoted to poisonous plants! Of course, these plants too had medicinal qualities in the right hands, but the medieval background reminds one of many a story of intrigue and treason where poison played a main role.
These gardens have been planned and laid out to replicate a cloistered garden in the medieval times, based on horticultural information found in medieval treatises and poetry, and garden documents and herbals. A herbal, by the way, is a book containing descriptions of plants put together for medicinal purposes.


And the view… Did I mention that the Cloisters is located overlooking the Hudson? From the walks around the gardens, the view of the cliffs across the river is awesome!


Included in the view is the George Washington Bridge stretching across to New Jersey.


Opened on May 14, 1938, the museum is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. And what better occasion than this to make a visit to the Cloisters Museum and Gardens? And the summer is the ideal time to pack a picnic lunch and spend a glorious day at this museum.



11 Jul 2014