Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Hampshire!

We make greeting cards for our local hospital gift shop. Floral designs are what sell best there, so it gives me a great excuse to buy flowers. Actually, I buy them anyway, especially in the winter. It is very cold today, way below freezing. These tulips may have been grown in Holland. They were a vibrant orange-red edged with yellow. All that remains of them now is my drawing and the memory. I hope you find them cheering.

On New Year’s Day, we drove to Keene, NH, in the far southwest part of the state. This building, Colony’s Block, is a landmark on Central Square. It is brick with granite trim, with a decorative slate Mansard roof. It is in the Second Empire style, a French architectural style which became very popular around the world. I just love how it seems symmetrical at first glance, but not so. It was built in 1870. after the original one burned in 1865.

Of course, I just imagined the scene of people and horse and cart in front of it. And I put back the roof railing which had rusted, fallen off, and not been replaced.

The Colony family were early settlers to the Keene area, and they still own businesses there and in nearby Harrisville.

I stood on the square and drew this. I had to start over twice which is a bit unusual for me. I just kept wanting to include more of the building. I did the people and horse in the comfort of my studio.

This dignified white clapboarded building is the Mount Caesar Union Library in Swanzey, NH. I don’t know anything about the unusual name. It is also the name of a local school and a cemetery.

Another library, this one in local dark grey granite. It is the Frost Free Library in Marlborough NH, named for the Frost family. The word ‘free’ of course means that it costs nothing to go in and use the books. Until the mid-1880s, there were ‘social libraries’. The elite of the area would pay a fee to become subscribers. As a move towards democracy (what was called republicanism at the time), towns began to establish the free library system. Now there is never a fee to use a town library. But there the word is, literally carved in stone. And in modern parlance, it makes it sound like the building has a very good heating system. You see the new addition to the right of it.

We had a similar chuckle when I drew the Reed Free Library in nearby Surry. It almost looked like a misspelling! But it’s very common here to have the name of a local philanthropist on the town library, and for a very good reason.

Behind it is a New England style farmhouse that is attached to a smaller building, and then attached to the barn. All with a unified wooden siding and yellow paint.

The town of Troy, NH has a very nice common with a granite post, double iron railing. The bandstand has presence with its bell curve and top ball and spike. To the right in the rear is the town hall and offices. It was formerly a meeting house, meaning a place for various religious groups to gather. I have noticed a lot of this re-use of buildings. New Englanders have always been thrifty, and appreciative of our past. The obelisk is a monument to the men of the town who served in the Civil War. I like the brick buildings to left rear.

The little granite stone next to the bandstand explains that this land was once part of neighboring towns, and was annexed into the newer town of Troy. These historical facts are important enough to carve into stone.

We needed an atlas to find the town of Roxbury. According to the 2010 census it has 229 residents. I read that at one time in the 1800s it was much larger and had a very active quarry industry. The Civil War decimated the male population, and many of the remaining farmers headed to the mid-west.

We came from the direction of Marlborough, up steep hills, onto dirt roads. Then we met a few beautiful pheasants in the road directly ahead of us. We admired them; then we noticed the sign that said that the road was closed due to a bridge washout. We turned around in a person’s driveway. We waved.

Then I immediately saw this vista of Mount Monadnock. We didn’t even notice it coming up the hill before we turned around. Funny about that. It’s not the first time I’ve found that I have to drive through a town in both directions (sometimes four) before deciding what to draw. Anyway, since we were still within the town limits of Roxbury, and it looked so majestic, I decided to draw this.

I stood about three feet away from the town sign and took out my pencil and paper. You see the winter colors of the bare deciduous tree branches, a few yellow fields, and several people on the frozen pond at the lower left. This day there was yet to be any snow on the ground. It has been late coming this year, but it’s here now as I write this a week later.

The elevation of Mt. Monadnock is 3165 feet (965 meters). It is an isolated peak so looks higher than that. It is said to be the most climbed mountain in the world. I don’t know how anyone would know that for sure. But it is popular.

Here we have a pot of primroses. I nearly always buy one in the grocery store in the cold month of January. The first time I ever saw primroses was in San Francisco in 1974. I thought they were astonishingly beautiful in color and shape. Isn’t it amazing how some memories are strong and clear. And thinking of them brings back a whole past time and era in our own lives.