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A Look Before We Leap

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?

That opening question of the nostalgia-riddled Scottish folk song “Auld Lang Syne,” literally meaning “Old Long Since,” is a rhetorical one. The New Year’s anthem, sung post-midnight here (and wherever else Anglo settlers and immigrants have carried it), affirms later on that acquaintances should not, indeed, be forgotten, instead advocating for joyful shared reminiscences over clinking cups—perhaps not too unlike the ones to follow.

Here are some reminiscences from the past year or so of Daily Nutmeg.

Last winter, writer Cara McDonough was following the song’s advice, clinking cups all over downtown in search of some of the bar scene’s tastiest cold-season elixirs. She empathized with your desire to stay indoors, then summarily lured you outside with descriptions of spicy, herbal concoctions “guaranteed to halt the chattering of teeth and knocking of knees.” (Wintry Mixed, 12/28/12)

Writer Jane Rushmore, on the other hand, went to a place you might go if you were actively trying to catch the jitters: the PEZ Visitor Center and candy factory in Orange. Sugar highs are easily had there, as is nostalgia via the center’s incredible collection of hard-to-find PEZ dispensers. Plastic heads of Mickey Mouse, Star Wars characters and U.S. presidents provide a proxy timeline of American pop culture since the 1950s. (Mouth to Mouth, 1/29/13)

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Windows into Heaven at Knights of Columbus Museum

In April, on the city’s 375th anniversary, or “dodransquadricentennial,” Chris Arnott took you time-traveling through New Haven in 25-year intervals, chronicling the founding (in 1638), the first newspaper (1755), the local invention of the telephone switchboard (1877), the urban renewal experiments of the mid-20th century and a litany of other events that changed the city and its dwellers. (Wasn’t Born Yesterday, 4/24/13)

Courtney McCarroll uncovered a temporal paradox: a vintage clothier of the future. Vintanthromodern Vintage has been innovating a new/old way of retailing fashion in New Haven with its “contemporary version of a trade caravan:” a mobile storefront tricked out with clothing racks and dressing room that brings the goods to you. (Clothing Time, 6/27/13)

Kathleen Cei spurred you to try a different—and just plain different—mobile vendor on for size: Fryborg, a food truck with a name inspired by Star Trek and a focus on Belgian-style fries, or “frites.” Specialty dipping sauces, sandwiches and sodas—including a sublime custom recipe blending vanilla and pistachio—round out a menu with foodie appeal, and make sense of the motto emblazoned on the truck: “Resistance is futile.” (Lord of the Fries, 7/25/13)

In August, Bonnie Goldberg implored you, “Hie thee to Edgerton Park,” then snuck you backstage for the Elm Shakespeare Company’s weeks-long summer production of Julius Caesar there. The characters of the play betrayed each other, yes, but the players hewed to their dramatic and communitarian purposes ably and admirably. (Roman Scandal, 8/22/13)

Jake Goldman sang to you about an unsung hero. Among New Haven’s green scenes, East Shore Park doesn’t get a lot of respect. But it’s really big, with plenty of ball fields and benches and even its own beach. The view across the harbor is open and wide, with “two small jetties” providing front-row seats. The trees are pretty and the paths are paved for easy maneuvering. The people observed there were enjoying the heck out of the place. (Beauty and the East, 10/3/13)

Claire Zhang guided you through a Bethany barn-turned-bookstore on a rainy day ideal for the endeavor. Whitlock’s Book Barn is in a charming state of decay; the fact that, for example, the floor in one building “is uneven, evidence of the barn’s age and its original, unfussy purpose,” makes it all the more literary. (Shelf Life, 10/22/13)

On Halloween, Colin Caplan told us where the bodies are buried. “All Hallow’s Eve is upon us, and the dead are just beneath our feet,” including at Fort Wooster Park, the Green, and the corner of Davenport and York downtown. Then he said something even spookier: “What, or who, remains hidden just beneath New Haven’s surface?” (Do Not Disturb, 10/31/13)

Elizabeth Weinberg wove a story about the one-room downtown gallery Reynolds Fine Art and a decidedly gutsy exhibition of subtle quilt drawings. “‘They’re so small, they’re so intimate, they’re so spare,’ just distilled down to ‘the basic idea.’” There’s nothing basic about the artistry it requires to accomplish that, or about the curatorial bravery it requires to run with it. (A Rich Seam, 11/15/13)

There was also a recent piece reflecting on the underappreciated merits of snow, by yours truly. (Best in Snow, 12/18/13)

Thanks for the memories, New Haven. See you in 2014.

Written by Dan Mims.

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