Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Grace-filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting" #18 ): A Little History Lesson

I woke up this morning in the mood to blog, but I said to my husband, "I have nothing to write about.  I feel like I'm completely out of ideas.  There's nada going on in here [as I tapped my empty noggin]."  (Okay, I didn't really say "nada," or tap my head; but I'm trying to make this post a little more interesting.)

I sat down at the kitchen table of our Oyster Haven VRBO house to face the empty screen of my laptop.  With my trusty Hatch Prints Morning Offering mug by my side--filled with the first of the three or four cups of coffee I will consume by 11:00--I looked out the window, sighing and wondering if I was ever going to get my blogging groove back...

And this is what I saw (minus the helpful arrows, but I'll explain those).
That big island on the left is Valcour Island; and the much smaller one on the right is Gunboat Island.  Beyond the islands you can see the blue outline of the mountains of Vermont.

It's a spectacular view, isn't it?  And you can't see them, but the ghosts of Revolutionary War battleships steam right alongside those two islands.

Oyster Haven is located so close to where the Battle of Valcour was fought in 1776 that this historical marker sits just on the edge of our property.
Gunboat, Valcour's itty-bitty sibling, has a rather interesting story.  Let me show you a zoomed-in shot of it, so you can get a better idea of what it looks like.
Anyway, as I was sitting here on this sunny morning, mesmerized by the sparkling diamonds on the surface of the water, I had an epiphany: since it's book club day, and Finding Grace most definitely touches on the rich history of this area and the key role the lake (and these two islands) played in that history, I thought I'd give you a little excerpt:

          "The Battle of Valcour (which is a large island off the southern shore of Plattsburgh) was fought on Lake Champlain on October 11, 1776.  Led by Benedict Arnold, the Revolutionary War hero who would later become a traitor, the Continental navy was defeated by the British in this battle, losing eleven ships.  However, in ways it was a victory for the Americans, because the British forces had been hurt enough that they retreated into Canada to nurse their wounds for the winter instead of staying to establish a strong presence in the northern colonies.  Had they stayed, it would have cut the colonies in half and could have altered the outcome of the war.
          It was said that in the confusion of the battle, British Colonel Guy Carleton fired upon a small island off the tip of South Hero, Vermont, mistaking its rocky silhouette for an American ship.  Afterward, this island was christened 'Carleton's Prize,' in mockery of the British leader's mistake, but these days it was known simply by the nickname 'Gunboat Island.'  (In defense of the colonel, its outline really did resemble that of a small battleship.)  To this day, local divers frequently brought up rusty old cannonballs found around both Valcour and Gunboat Islands, tangible reminders of the bravery of America's fledgling navy."
                                                                                                                  Finding Grace (Chapter 3)

See, Finding Grace is both entertaining AND educational!  And there's some romance in there, too.  And a bit of humor.  And definitely some strong messages about how our choices have consequences--not to mention the importance of faith in God's will and in His loving mercy.  I call it "a pro-chastity, pro-life, pro-family, Catholic coming-of-age story."  I hope you'll call it "next on my to-read list," or "next assigned reading for our high school homeschool co-op."  Actually, you can call it anything you like, just don't call it late for dinner.  (Is that joke/wisecrack still in circulation, or did it die out back in the 1950's or 60's?)

Okay then, now it's back to window-gazing for me (which ranks only slightly higher than navel-gazing on the productivity scale).

I have an offer for you, before I sign off here: if you'd like to order a signed copy of Finding Grace for $15.00 (and skip the Amazon shipping fees), contact me using the "EMAIL ME" button on the sidebar.  I would love to introduce you to Grace Kelly and her family and friends, and to the history-filled area she calls home.