Monday, February 4, 2013

New Hampshire

This month’s visual essay starts with some very nice brick buildings.  The warm color of red brick has always appealed to me. This structure is in the town of Pelham, on the border with Massachusetts.

For years and years, my memory of Pelham, NH meant the place I went to Girl Scout camp in the 1950s.  Camp Runnels is still there, providing summer fun for girls ages nine to twelve or so. Sadly, unable to pass my swim badge, I couldn’t earn my boating badge in the rowboats.  Maybe that is why we own two kayaks now, and no rowboats.  Paddling, not rowing is the way to go.  And our recreational kayaks are more stable than rowboats anyway.

I thought this was the Pelham Library because, well, you can see why.   But it is the former Pelham Library and now the Pelham Historical Society.   A newer library building sits elsewhere in the town.

The arch, the shadows, and the gorgeous garden in the front called its attention to me immediately.

The small town of Hinsdale, NH occupies  the southwest corner of the state.  At the junction of Massachusetts and Vermont. The red brick building is the town hall, built 1900 in a time of prosperity. The dwarfed yellow building is a wooden post office.

The town mill, now demolished, was named Newhall and Stebbins.  They made lawn mowers and grass trimmers until 1962. These very useful items are now manufactured elsewhere.

Nearly every town in New Hampshire had a mill. Or many mills.  Most still exist in some form.  It takes a lot of effort to tear down one of these well built brick and granite structures.  And when the mill goes out of business, the townspeople need to find new occupations, or leave the area. Many New Hampshire towns have a lower population now than they had one hundred and fifty years ago.

Winchester NH is just to the east of Hinsdale.  There is a road that follows along the NH/Mass border.  It makes traveling from one town to the other nice and easy.  Interested folk sometimes ask how I decided the order in which to do my Draw-NH project.  Frequently the answer is practical rather than artistic.  Many times, it was a matter of what towns connect together easily to maximize my time to get back home by dark.  In some cases, I did draw in the dark if I ran out of daylight.

This drawing is a composite of views of two buildings that are next door to each other, the library and the town hall.  The town hall, the tower to the left, was built in 1880.  And the very ornate library followed in 1890.  Enjoying the architectural flourishes on each so much, I drew both. 

The town was named in honor of Charles Paulet, 3rd duke of  Bolton, 8th Marquess of Winchester (UK), and constable at the Tower of London. The Pennacook Indians lived in this area before the English settlements.

I may return for the annual Pickle Festival in September.

Fitzwilliam, NH, also in the southwest part of the state, has a lovely town green, many drawable buildings, and an agreeable ambiance.  That was the trouble.  I started a composition three times. From three different directions.  Uncertain how much to put in, or leave out, or even what angles to use.
The ornate metal fountain in the park is beautiful and delicate, so I decided to focus on that. To the left of the fountain is the unusual grey and white clapboarded house.  My notes tell me that the middle window, and the door too,  is indeed asymmetrically positioned.

Franklin, NH. is a town quite near to us. It was formed in 1820 from acreage from four neighboring towns. Named for the statesman Benjamin Franklin, its motto is “Three River City”.  Here the Pemigewasset and the Winnepesaukee Rivers merge to form the Merrimack. River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean down in Massachusetts.

Water from the Merrimack was the source of power for the Industrial Revolution here in New Hampshire and in northeastern Massachusetts, which brought my husband’s grandparents here to the US over 100 years ago.

The history of the town includes the usual long list of mills:  saw mills, grist mills, fulling and yarn mills, doors sashes and blinds, woolens, hosiery, and paper.  Do any of them still exist?  I don’t think so, but most of the buildings are being reused to new purposes. The town has a splendid library, as well as a combination opera house and town hall.  And a hospital. 

This large metal wheel is sited on Main Street as a sort of memorial to the times of the mills and the mill workers.  Across the street to the far right, you can see the Winnepesaukee River Trail.  And a non-functioning, but structurally impressive, rail road trestle.

This drawing and the next were done at the time of our visit to the Tarbin Gardens in Franklin.  The ten acres of gardens are carved out from the deep woodlands, by a British woman and her son. They are still there creating more gardens every year.  Above, an outdoor room called Three Pines, is one of my favorites spots.

And spots is a good word for this sun and shade dappled space.  To me, the trees, bushes, bench and my husband look solidly planted on earth.  The grass, sun spots, and pathways look like they are floating. That may or may not be a pleasant effect.  This is the sort of light and shade scene that I seldom attempt.  The shadows and patches of light confuse the eye rather than clarify the space.  But, you may like it. This is my Claude Monet moment.

Nearby,  the formal garden awaits you. The straight path leads to a bench for contemplation.  The differences in scale, meaning the large urn in the foreground, and the small size of the hanging plants in the background create a sense of depth and space. The viewer has the chance to walk right into the scene.  And rest a while.

The rail road bridge in Dalton, NH crosses the slow moving Connecticut River into Vermont.  It was very peaceful here.  Hot and sunny.  I remember all that, as well as the birds chirping in the grass.

I really enjoy drawing bridges.  My brother, a bridge expert, may want to tell me the name of this kind of bridge design.  This is the Connecticut River in Stewartstown, NH.

There’s a very thin slice of Vermont on the other side, and next comes the Canadian border.  We could see the border station a short way down the road. But we didn’t have our passports with us. The border requirements are much more formalized now, since 2001.  The border up this way used to be very informal, even running through the library in one town.

We were in Thornton NH in the summer heat of August when we drove by this wooden building.  The sign says Benton’s Sugar Shack, run by four generations of the family.  Scattered around the ground were all sorts of wooden antique syrup making implements.

In the last days of winter, in March, the sap in the sugar maple trees begins to flow.  After puncturing a hole in the bark of the tree, the running sap is captured in buckets or more modern plastic hoses.  And boiled down to make maple syrup  That is all there is to the process.  Just a lot of boiling and knowing when to stop.

 Forty liters of sap produce one liter of syrup.  And it is a health food containing all sorts of minerals and anti-oxidents.  Doesn’t that make you want to whip up a batch of pancakes or waffles? Or drink it straight.

Most of the world’s maple syrup and sugars come from Quebec, Canada.  The rest comes from New England (NH, Vermont, and Maine) and other northern states.

Through my imagination, I changed the summer-green maple tree into its glorious autumn foliage. And I left much of the paper white to help us all imagine the winter snow.

I may have long lost cousins in Quebec who make maple syrup, as well as the stainless steel vats and other necessary equipment.  The delicious syrup we buy in NH comes from the Lapierre Maple Farm of St. Ludger, Quebec, Canada.

Yellow flowers on a cold February day.  For me, they just called out to be drawn, and captured in my memory, and maybe yours.

The bowl was painted by our younger daughter when she was in her early twenties.  Her favorite shape is a spiral. She has never told me this.  I know this from observation. There are spiral shapes and designs all over her house. And her wedding dress had beautiful organic spiraling plant tendrils, all in cotton embroidery. And some sparkly sequins, and pearls too.

The flowers were extras from our local hospital.  It was my day to make flower arrangements for the residents of the Clough Center, New London, NH,  an extended care facility which is attached to the hospital.

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