Friday, April 26, 2013

New Hampshire and Massachusetts

These pansies are so ready to get out of their plastic market packs and start spreading their roots in the ground.  The bright sunshine creates dramatic shadows around the solid black pots.

Pansy is an anglicized version of the French word pensée, meaning thought.  Pansies make me think of my mother’s mother and her garden.

I have been experimenting with using soft charcoal sticks to make rich blacks.  Then I combine this with translucent watercolors for a contrast. Just a little shop talk.

The city of Boston, Massachusetts fills the skyline in the distance.  Drawn while on Lovells Island in the harbor, the composition details wild ferns and berries in the foreground. Yes, this is a reposting from a few years ago, as we are all thinking of Boston these days.

The thirty four islands in the harbor comprise a national park.  Scheduled boat shuttle services are provided to some of them.  For other islands, you need to arrive in your own boat.

The tower of the Hampstead, NH Town Offices is highly ornamented with wooden sculptural details.   The pink cherry blossoms on the tree. and that yellowish green of the brand new leaves spell out spring! 

 The weathervane is modeled after an old fashioned feather pen. 

The brick and slate tower of the Plaistow, NH town hall rises from the middle of Pollard Square. Another intriguing weathervane spins atop the peak. 

A little online research for the name Plaistow proved worthwhile.  This town is the only Plaistow in the U.S., but the name is used at least five times in the U.K.  Plaistow, a northeast part of London, suffered severe bomb damage during WWII.

 Last week we drove north to Plymouth, NH to visit the new Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State University. The paintings on the walls of the museum enchanted us.

A secondary reason to visit the campus was to discover yet another home of the poet Robert Frost.  The poet and his wife Elinor, also a poet, lived here for a year with their four small children, 1911–1912. A year of teaching allowed the family to save some money.

They then set sail for England, with Frost’s goal of becoming a full time writer.  After three years living west of London, they returned to America.  During those short pivotal years, Frost met other influential poets, as well as found a publisher for his first two poetry books.

The lines and colors of my drawing are soft and floating as an aid to remembering two poetic spirits who lived and breathed here.

It must be disorienting for a British citizen to travel around New England.  Many of the place names sound very familiar.  But the places themselves differ so much.  Plymouth is a large port city on the Channel.  Here in New Hampshire, Plymouth charms as a small, hilly college town in the White Mountains range.

Springfield, NH shares a border with our town.  With a small population of under 1,300 it nonetheless boasts this fine old meeting house (1797), recently restored. The wooden buildings stand tall with their strong granite foundations.

We once enjoyed a talk on local flora and fauna, held at the meetinghouse. On the way home, at dusk, we spied a fine looking moose giving us the once over from a nearby field.  Its eyes glowed in the dark from our head lights.

On the right sits the Springfield Historical Society in the former Center School. After a more modern school was constructed, it became the town library.  Now a new library is attached to the town hall.  All these social units are within sight of each other.

A local policeman approached me while I stood on this spot drawing. I had to explain myself.  I do look suspicious. 

The Mount Caesar Union Library serves the community in Swanzey, NH.  Some of the early  European settlers came from Swansea, Wales. The  imposing structure, with its white wooden clapboards, green shutters, and columns, is found on the map in southwestern New Hampshire near Keene.

Mount Caesar,  a local mountain of 962 feet elevation, takes its name from the freed slave Freeman Caesar.

In Windham, NH, on a slight rise sit these two contrasting buildings.  The clapboarded building houses the town hall, the town offices, the grange, and a meeting place of the American Legion, a veterans group.  The lovely stone edifice, once the Nesmith Free Library,  is now a museum. 

Lawrence, Massachusetts was well known for its textile mills, built both in brick and in stone.The rubblestone tower in the center (125 ft) vented the smoke from the Lawrence Machine Shop in the background.  Locomotives were manufactured there.

  Not a lot is still manufactured in Lawrence, but we were told one mill still exists. Currently a shipping business occupies some of this mammoth building.

My husband’s grandparents immigrated to the Lawrence area from England and Scotland in the early 1900s, drawn by the opportunities provided by the booming textile industry.  One grandfather worked in a woolen mill, now occupied by condominiums and small businesses; the other was employed in a foundry that manufactured machinery for the mills.  We saw a lot of photographs, drawings, and some actual machines in museums here and in nearby Lowell.

Lawrence, Lowell, and a number of other industrial cities in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire got their power from dams on the Merrimack River.  The lake at the bottom of our hill is one of the many sources that ultimately feed that river, further adding to our interest in the industrial history of the area.

On the way back home from a little shopping trip, I pulled over and parked my car on Main Street in Tilton, NH.  This town, in the middle of the state,  is full of visual oddities begging to be captured with pencil and paper.

 The brick corner building spoke to me.  A tour de force of masonry details, arched wooden window trim, cast iron, and decorative urns, the drawing challenge kept me going despite  sandy gusts of wind whipping up the street.  A tangle of telephone poles and wires are reflected in the windows, which really did look purple.

And to continue with the theme of Tilton’s oddities, I’m including a reposting of this drawing I did two years ago.

These statues along the Main Street were donated to the town by Charles Tilton.  On the far left, “Miss Tilton, 1882”, all in marble. Her hand rests on a horse’s head.  Draped in linen-like folds, she wears a crown.

 In the center,  a bronze Squantum Chief scans the horizon.  Beautifully designed and cast, he  wears buckskins and carries a bow and arrows. This sculpture was moved to the side of the main street from its original location in the center.

 On the right, in carved marble stone, stands the Indian Queen. She’s on a pedestal in the middle of the street, with the traffic circling around her.  With a lion’s head draped over her shoulder, and a giant lizard at her feet, she amazes me. Not to mention,  her  strange headdress, an odd skirt, and no shirt at all.

Our little felt Paddington bear sits in our window seat enjoying the view and the sunshine.  Hand sewn by my mother, he is a world traveller. His story tells that he comes from Peru, but with us he’s visited the British Isles and Europe.  Our younger daughter carried him everywhere for a few years.

His coat has shrunk in the wash and his boots have gone missing in some unknown country.  But Paddy still has a smile and a mischievous glint in his eyes.

I remember the day, in a castle in Germany, that our four year old daughter held him up high so that he could take in the wonderful view out of the window. The view that she was too short to see for herself.

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