Corning, New York: A Glass Slipper, Liquid Shoes and my New Pair of Boots
Rookie mistake! After a long stretch of work travel and deadlines too numerous to count, I throw together the suitcase for my much-anticipated trip to Corning, New York, and Finger Lakes Wine Country. I’m off and on my way without so much as a glance at the weather report. Straight to bed after a late-night arrival at Elmira Corning Regional Airport (ELM), I awake to explore what I find to be an unseasonably cold and rainy September morning. But, as the affable Bob Ross used to say, there are no mistakes only “happy accidents.” Having brought along only ballet flats, and my first step out the front door of my hotel being directly into a puddle; my first expedition in New York? “Siri, find the closest shoe store!” In pursuit of warmer footwear, I’m led through the charming and picturesque streets of downtown; past cafes and galleries, public art and museums, all calling out to me to return when appropriately shod.
Upon acquiring my toasty and waterproof boots at the handy-dandy Bass Outlet Store, I dive back into exploring; ducking in and out of storefronts, bouncing between the warmth of local shopkeepers and the cool drizzle outside. As I continue down East Market Street, located in the heart of Corning, a smartly dressed silver-haired gentleman steps out of one of the many art galleries along my path and quickly makes the usual weather-related quip, “My, what a lovely day we’re having.” I make some silly retort in agreement with this assessment of the day and we quickly strike up a conversation about what has brought us both to this little corner of the world (my travels, his art.) We snag a seat at the local coffee shop, Soul Full Cup; a great cup of coffee, homey atmosphere and tremendously friendly staff serve for the perfect backdrop for two strangers to share their life stories. I check my watch and realize it’s time to head off to the Corning Museum of Glass, where I have a prescheduled glassmaking experience to get to. My new friend, Dudley, walks me there.
Arriving at Corning Museum of Glass, I am taken aback by not only how diverse and extensive their collection is, but by the fact something this impressive resides in such a small community. I’m also painfully aware of my own ignorance of the vast possibilities in glass art. Oh sure, I’ve been wooed by the romance of kaleidoscope-colored stained glass at dusk, but THIS is something entirely different. My head spins trying to take in everything! There are light installations, history of glass exhibits, demos for days, furniture, animals and clothing made from glass and, yes, even a glass slipper (because, required). Some art exhibits I can only describe as “moods”. Like this work below; perhaps my favorite of the day.
I embark on my Make Your Own Glass experience. I’m just gonna say it, my instructor is an angel. She not only tolerates my inner-perfectionist second guessing each and every move I make but continually encourages me to press on and prevents me from getting in my own way of creating something amazing. This was hot molten therapy, people. I cannot recommend it enough!
Parched from my time as a hardworking glass artist perched in front of the glassforming fire, it’s time to make my way back into town in search of a frosty beverage. The large, open, front window of Liquid Shoes Brewing allows the chatter inside to serve as Pied Piper, leading me to where the cool kids are hangin’. Sure they’ve got great beer here, I had the American Blonde Ale, but they’ve also got that effortlessly-cool vibe thing going on. As this fun-filled day fades into a delightful evening spent with the aforementioned raucous imbibing masses, it’s time to call it a night. I head toward my home for the week, the ultra-convenient not to mention brand-spanking-new, Hilton Garden Inn Corning Downtown. As I walk along, I think about new friends, new art and new memories made possible, at least in part, by my new pair of boots.