By David Collins – The Day

Published February 16 2016


Someone got out the snow eraser this week, and rain and melting temperatures seem destined to put us on a track for spring.

Can pea planting season and green beer be far off, now that many of us get to drive home while it is still light out?

But hold on. There is still time to relish some of the treats of winter in eastern Connecticut.

It’s true we don’t have ski slopes. And the only reliable skating this year, even with very cold spells, is at organized rinks, like the ones in downtown Westerly and at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

But there is still plenty of time to enjoy some of the great indoor winter treats the region has to offer.

One of these has to be the Garde Winter Cinema Series at New London’s Garde Arts Center.

I am ashamed to say this is the first year I’ve signed on for the whole series, which should rank very high on a lot of best-of lists around here.

This exceptionally curated series is a great primer for Oscar night. Every selection is Oscar nominated, and it’s one-stop shopping to catch up with contenders you might have missed.

The experience of watching a movie in a grand, gilded movie palace is extraordinary. This one is also modern, with excellent picture quality and Dolby Sound.

The theater on movie nights lights up downtown, and moviegoers fill in the blank spaces for an interesting, urban vibe.

Besides, when was the last time in a suburban cineplex that you saw an audience get to its feet and applaud for an exceptional movie?

It’s also cheap. Garde officials remind audiences at the outset that the arts center in a nonprofit, and donations are also welcome.

Another winter pleasure that will linger here for a few more months before spring intrudes, is the weekend fare at Stonington’s Velvet Mill.

This is a work in progress at the old velvet factory on the outskirts of Stonington borough.

Of course, the mill now offers a wide selection of retail and arts opportunities every day of the week, from art galleries and framers to cheese makers, weavers and beer brewers.

Soon, if things go to plan, there will also be a wine bar restaurant in the old mill.

On weekends, the mill welcomes the Stonington Village Farmers Market and a flea market. The farmers market is held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, and the flea market is held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both weekend days.

Also open now on weekends is a store where you can walk down Mystic’s memory lane. The last owners of the Emporium Mystic, housed for decades in a rambling landmark building on Water Street, a retail anchor in downtown Mystic, have revived the business, now known as Emporium in exile.

The remainder of the vast inventory — it’s hard to describe until you’ve experienced it — is back on display and for sale, part of the eclectic mix at the mill.

Every time I’ve visited the mill on a weekend, there are more vendors, more things to eat and drink and buy and more people mingling around.

Check it out.

Enjoy the continuing pleasures of an eastern Connecticut winter.

We’ll all be complaining soon about the heat and beach traffic.

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