Sunday, January 18, 2015

Paper leaves of tobacco leaves: Tobacco Sheds, Vanishing Treasures of the Connecticut River Valley

I love books.

Hell, I love them so much, I write books.*

When I moved into Valentino's swanky bachelor pad**, lo those many years ago, I brought with me no less than one zillion books. Then I bought many many bookshelves to hold aforementioned books, thinking I'd have plenty of room.  I filled them.

He asked at one point, "What do you need all those books for?"***

"They're my friends," I said, without thinking about the thousand and thousands of paper leaves filling the books.

Speaking of leaves, (this is all going to come together in a second, so stay with us) this fall, we had a chance to tour a tobacco shed and hear about the drying and aging process.

The tour was part of an event put on by Connecticut Valley Tobacco Museum in conjunction with the lovely Karin Mills Tranghese and Cigar Room II in Agawam, MA.

Tino and tobacco
(Here's the connection we promised!) The other day we received this friend, Tobacco Sheds, Vanishing Treasures of the Connecticut River Valley, in the mail:

Paper leaves of tobacco leaves!
Hey book, could you be any more gorgeous?
This is the book's description (Thanks,!):

"In recent years, over one thousand tobacco sheds have disappeared from the Tobacco Valley. This important book systematically catalogues tobacco sheds from Putney, Vermont, to Portland, Connecticut, a span of just over one hundred miles. The photographs capture the beauty of these unique farm buildings and serve as a valuable record for these endangered barns. The text offers the agricultural history of each town, helping to connect sheds to their own unique region of New England. In addition, the book reinforces the need for preserving one of New England s most unusual farm structures.

"Many sheds in the Connecticut River Valley are still used to dry tobacco leaves that will wrap some of the world's most expensive cigars, but, sadly, some are being left to slowly deteriorate over time or are being torn down to make way for development. This book will be treasured by cigar smokers and architectural historians and preservationists alike."

I totally treasure this book. It's filled with gorgeous photographs and well-written text that tells the story behind these tobacco titans scattered across the Connecticut River Valley, both of which are gorgeous in their own right.

In case you're not sure where we're talking about. [source]
One of the book's pages!
And one of the region's tobacco sheds. Gorgeous, no?

Can I be honest here? Since we're BFFs and all? I've seen these buildings my whole life as my family road-tripped around New England. "Pretty," I'd think and then my thoughts would move along with the car.**** I honestly had no idea tobacco was not only a New England industry but a necessary and successful one.  In fact, the shed we toured produced the wrapper for a little cigar called Liga Privada, according to owner Steve Jarmoc; ever heard of it? (Hahaha!)
Ceiling of tobacco leaves during our tour.
The authors of Tobacco Sheds, Vanishing Treasures of the Connecticut River Valley, an eclectic husband and wife team, have created a visual masterpiece as gorgeous as the sheds themselves.
The Cahills! [source]
"Dale Cahill has been a sailor, farmhand, electronic technician, equipment maintenance technician, a life guard, has run an aquatics facility, and is both a father and a grandfather. He has worked at resorts and in factories, favors the outdoors and he loves skiing, mountain biking and photographing beautiful things. He plays mandolin and guitar and owns a ski bar in Vermont.
"Darcy Cahill has been a teacher, school counselor, reporter, and sheep dog breeder. She is a mother and grandmother. She plays fiddle and owns a ski bar with her husband. She also spends time writing, gardening, mountain biking, and skiing." [source]            
According to an article in Cigar Aficionado, "The new book Tobacco Sheds, Vanishing Treasures of the Connecticut River Valley, takes the reader on a journey through the Connecticut River Valley and goes behind-the-scenes to show what these majestic barns really are. Authors Dale and Darcy Cahill, who have made these barns their passion for many years now, traveled the length of the 400-mile valley, which touches four U.S. states. More than 1,000 have been lost to time, disrepair and changing fortunes over recent years, but they found sheds remaining in Vermont, Massachusetts and (of course) Connecticut. None remain, they said, in New Hampshire."

Keep an eye out next time you're driving around the Connecticut Valley. They aren't just cool barns off in the distance, as I'd imagined. Well, they kind of are, but they're way more than that. They're SUPER cool barns! And you might even be smoking that shed's wares.

By the way, if you do get a chance to visit a tobacco shed this coming season (and you totally should!), be sure to pick up a nice hat for yourself.
Cabellero #2 and his fab chapeau.
In the meantime, get Tobacco Sheds, Vanishing Treasures of the Connecticut River Valley and enjoy the world around you--or the world your cigar may have come from--while in your cozy, warm house.

*You should buy them all here.

**Read: Beautifully-decorated, huge house

***Obviously, he's not a book person.

****Back in the day when kids' minds wandered during road trips, as opposed to now when they don't even look out the windows because they're watching a video. These kids probably don't even know the joy of fighting with a sibling, unhindered by a seat-belt, during a road trip--or getting a weak slap from a parent on whatever part of your body they can reach as they're driving--or calling "Way back!" so you could sit in the back of the station wagon staring at the drivers behind you and annoying the crap out of said drivers. Annoying two cars of people was a special bonus. Poor kids these days, watching TV during the ride.

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