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We had SNOW!!
The first snow of the season for most of the state. It wasn't much, but it was enough to dust the ground with white.
A (former) New Boston landmark, Sunday Driver Rock was well known in the area for many years. Unfortunetly, sometime after I took this picture (2001) the sign was painted over. No one was sure who originally painted the rock, but the sign was there from at least the early 90's till 2001.
There are so many things I drive by everyday and say, "I should stop and grab a quick snap" as I drive right past only have it change and disappear forever...
I guess that is a good motto for a photographer too.
"You stop to think, you think to stop."
It is amazing to see the damage a beaver can do. New Hampshire is full of beaver ponds and trees chewed off at their trunks. A beaver can change the total course of a river, create a pond, move a pond, make a swamp and more. I have seen the cycle of beavers. They generally cycle their dens around a seven year cycle. Their own construction forces them to have to move on to another location and it take the trees and vegetation that long to replenish the area for them to return to.
Just think of all the wonderful holiday food many of us had the pleasure to eat in the last few days.
But now it's time to work on a New Year's resolution which may include, like it does for me, a diet change to work off some of those yummy holiday calories.
I saw these trees in a foggy field at sunset on the way home from the AMC workshop near the Alexandria, NH town center.
- Two Trees -
Pals from birth.
Together through all seasons.
Never knowing a song or reason.
Through fog, cold wind, rain and blitzen.
Never counted as citizen'.
Ever present in our souls and our cravin'.
Perhaps with a foal or raven.
Never far from our eye.
Always here beneath our New Hampshire skies.
--- Mike, the Flawed poet, 01/09/2006.
I saw these trees in a foggy field at sunset on the way home from the AMC workshop on
Here is a photo and poem about togetherness as we in New Hampshire and elsewhere around the northern hemisphere wait for the daylight hours to grow longer.
Even though the temperatures are in the *gasp* 50s in the middle of December, there is skiing in New Hampshire. 100% pure man made in variety, but it is totally skiable. It is hard getting your mind around "going" skiing when you can't even bear to put a winter jacket on, let alone snow pants, but I have to say, it was great fun hitting the slopes at Crotched Mountain this weekend.
Come on out and give the slopes a try!
- A Noble Cairn II -
Oh noble Cairn, where from here?
East or West? North or South?
Does this path lead to or fro?
Lead us up or down slope?
Onto Rock or Talus under tread?
Or more foot ballast ahead?
But, Hark! In the distance,
Would that clanging bell or slanging horn be?
In the mirk what do we see?
Through the foggy seas.
Would it be your sisters and brothers,
sitting ahead for me?
You lead us on, and on we go.
Over hill and fill,
Sedge and earth, rock-dust and dirt.
O'vr boulder and shoulder,
and near clover.
Remembering your sense as
we went a-clomping over pure white topping,
Seeing no path, or maybe a graph,
a cipher we could not decipher.
But there you were, giving us advice,
Now more than ever, we see you cleary
and deary just as you are.
Our friend, solid, simple and ever present,
in climbs so pleasant.
-- Mike (Winged Foot), 06/24/2006
I woke this morning and saw what seemed like snow out the window. The white color wasn't snow, but a thick frost.
Before I left for work, I took several photos which you see in this series.
'Tis the season!
So why is it so warm?
Compared to other states, people in New Hampshire seem to have a higher number of vanity plates on their vehicle. For a $33.00 fee, a NH resident can get an initial vanity plate for their vehicle. For some, this is good value for the dollar.
The state also issues license plates consecutively so the plate number indicates when the plates were issued. Since the plate stays with the person, not the vehicle, the number indicates when someone moved here or bought an additional vehicle.
In a mark of New Hampshire individualism, some vehicle owners proudly drive around with plates that have five numbers or less.
So whether the New Hampshire plate includes a quirky number or a message on a vanity plate, keep an eye out for license plates to ponder on cars that are driving around our fine state.
by Robert Frost
God made a beauteous garden
With Lovely flowers strown,
But one straight, narrow pathway
That was not overgrown.
And to this beauteous garden
He brought mankind to live,
And said: "To you, my children.
These lovely flowers I give.
Prune ye my vines and fig trees,
With care my flowerets tend,
But keep the pathway open
Your home is at the end."
Then came another master,
Who did not love mankind,
And planted on the pathway
Gold flowers for them to find,
And mankind saw the bright flowers,
That, glitt'ring in the sun,
Quite hid the thorns of av'rice
That poison blood and bone;
And far off many wandered,
And when life's night came on,
They still were seeking gold flowers,
Lost, helpless and alone.
O, cease to heed the glamour
That blinds your foolish eyes,
Look upward to the glitter
Of stars in God's clear skies.
Their ways are pure and harmless
And will not lead astray,
But aid your erring footsteps
To keep the narrow way.
And when the sun shines brightly
Tend flowers that God has given
And keep the pathway open
That leads you on to heaven.
So, where is all the snow? Here we are, well into December and the only reason that the ski slopes are open is the vigilant hard work of the snowmaking crews. Is this really New England? Is this really December? While many complain about all the clean up, slush, driving, cold and every other negative thing about the snow, you have to admit, it just doesn't look like Christmas.
It's beginning to look a lot like....
How about we all sing together...
Let it Snow, Let is Snow, Let it Snow!
If we try REAL hard...Maybe, just maybe.
A Keene, New Hampshire family was on the way to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital (home of CHaD, our benefactor) for the birth of the family's fourth child although little baby girl could not wait for the minivan to get there.
Jody Leach helped his wife, Kristen, delivered their new little baby grl, Eliza in their van parked along Interstate 91 in Vermont. Eliza's three older siblings helped as well. The 16 year old video taped the birth while on the phone with 911, relaying instruction to her father. The 6 year old reluctantly surrendered her favourite blanket to wrap her new sister up in.
There were a few moments of tension as the baby took a bit to take her first breath. But, by the time the ambulance arrived, Kristen was already nursing baby Eliza.
Everyone is safe, happy and healthy back at home.
My hunting buddy, Jim, is a technical writer like I am. After our successful hunt, we both scurried to our computers to write up the story from our own perspective and Tracy posted mine to the NH Photo Tour blog. And also being an amature photographer, I had to take some photos of Jim's fine, five-point buck seen here.
Click. Click. My radio crackles. After a long pause, I reply with one click. The signal for a deer sighting perks my senses and I feel the familiar rush of buck fever course through my veins. Sitting silently yet with heart pounding, I wait, listen, and watch. Finally in a ripping echo through the woods, 'Boom!'
Earlier that year in the summer, I interviewed for my new job and I remember Jim's final question and comment. 'I'm Finnish, too, and I notice in your resume that you hunt. What do you hunt for?' From this beginning, Jim and I easily become co-workers, hunting buddies, and friends. Our dialog through the work-weeks explore hunting topics from strategies, deer tendencies, munitions, and map reading.
The deer hunting season opens in 2006 and Jim invites me to hunt well-scouted land near his house which is ironically in the town of Deerfield, NH. Our first time is an evening watch near a gentle rise in the land. He shows me his gear which includes a doe in heat drip, game cameras strapped to trees, and a climbing deer stand strapped to a tree. Jim's fanny pack is filled with scents, sprays, and cotton soaked in deer attracting fragrances.
'Here!' Jim says. 'Spray this racoon urine on your boots and then around your stand. Works great!'
I take the spray bottle after Jim uses it and I walk to my stand. I spray the urine on my boots and on the leaves around the tree. I use my self-climber to climb my tree and watch in the forest until sunset. I hear things scurry about in the woods, but I do not see any deer. After dusk, Jim finds me and I ask simply, 'See anything?'
'No, but all of a sudden I saw this big-ass racoon!' We laugh heartily!
We further discuss details from our evening watch as we return to his house.
A couple of weeks after this, we agree to an all day Saturday hunt so we can go deeper into the land near his house. Solo hunting is best done in accessible areas so the drag is shorter, but Jim and I were eager to scout woods which hold promise of bigger deer. In this case, a hunting buddy is essential if nothing else to haul a deer from the woods. All week, I wait anticipating an entire day in the forest, but a foreboding forecast for rain dampers my spirits. The night before, I call Jim.
'Looks like rain tomorrow.'
'Yeah.' Jim replies.
'Maybe we should do a still hunt and do some scouting.'
'That sounds reasonable. Maybe we can drive the deer towards each other. I want to show you a place where I saw a huge scrape anyway.'
So early that morning around 3:30, I wake, get ready, and long before sunrise, I drive an hour or so to Jim's house fully expecting morning rain. Since our expectations are low, we are loose and we joke around. A motion sensor on his driveway indicates movement so we predict where the deer walked and we stalk off into the forest. Nothing.
Eventually, we move into deeper woods which look viable on his maps. As we walk, we take note of white oaks, rubs, scrapes, droppings, and features which might be useful information for later. The rain holds off.
Our pace quickens and I suspect all that we did was scare the poor deer away from us, or perhaps we walked unwittingly past them. Jim recorded a prime location as 'Bear Bait' on his GPS which we find. The forest changes here from brushy evergreens to sharply rolling hills, beech and oak trees with large, sweeping vistas which offer hundreds of yards of visibility. This type of area is not typical for New Hampshire.
Jim stops at the top of a ravine while I walk a long, sweeping curve into the wind and back downwind in the hope of driving deer into his sights. Along my walk I see a buck trail, scrapes, and other encouraging signs. I hear things, but I never see anything - which indicates that my pace is too brisk, but yet I press on.
As I complete my loop, I loudly approach Jim and he says, 'I heard you for quite a ways. The whole forest quieted down when you approached.'
Reunited, we chart another direction to a marshland where we hope the deer are bedded down and eventually we return to the ridge just below Bear Bait. Our next target is another spot so we begin our walk.
'Look.' I say as I point to freshly turned leaves.
'Those weren't turned when we were first here.' Jim replies. Our excitement builds because this is a great sign of deer!
Our awareness increases and I see the transition forest from beech and oak to evergreen. There is a gentle rise along the ridge for deer to travel. A buck trail crosses here. Jim whispers, 'Flush out the hemlock grove.' This place has all the things deer need to live!
So I turn and walk through the hemlocks in the hopes of pushing the deer into Jim. I see huge scrapes on the hemlocks and a small tree snapped in half! This is what we want! Signs of big bucks!!!
I meet Jim and we're both beaming from ear to ear because we finally found a prime location and we sit and watch what we think is a bedding area. I could have sat all day, but we had to return to his house. Before we leave, I lay on a rock outcropping like a cowboy surveying a ravine so we call this place both Buck Bed and Cowboy Rock.
We plan to return.
So earlier in the fateful morning, we returned to Buck Bed and Cowboy Rock by walking the powerline trail before sunrise. Our self-climbers are strapped to our backs and we're weighted down with supplies. A small hint of regret fills both of us that we're not out early enough, but the weather is exactly as forecasted: cold and dead calm. Perfect for deer hunting.
About a mile into the trail, we creep into the forest. Since I have a shorter-range 12-guage shotgun, I sit at Cowboy Rock and Jim moves to the edge of the ravine, the beech trees, and the evergreens. I cut some branches from my tree to get better visibility. The sun eases higher in the sky and the air is perfectly still. Gradually the forest comes to life and I hear nature itself wake. Contentment fills me because as with most hunts, they do not produce, but the lasting memory of watching the sun rise in the forest is indelible.
The radio crackles twice. I reply. Heart pounds and finally, 'Boom!' I wait because I learned that deer are often attracted to a gunshot. I hear another, 'Boom!' I continue to wait.
'Deer down.' I hear Jim whisper over the radio.
'Ok.' I reply.
'It's either a four or a six point buck. Dropped dead in its tracks.'
'Awesome. I'm going to wait to see if your shots attract anything. I'll be there in twenty minutes or so.'
'Ok. Radio silent.'
I continue watching and listening to the idyllic sound of the forest waking on a perfect, sunny morning. Finally, I relent my watch and I clamber down the tree and work my way towards Jim. We both smile ear to ear as I see his first buck which has five points!
We gut the deer and then use my recently purchased saw to cut a stunted beech tree to create a sturdy pole. Then we strap the deer to the pole and shoulder the deer between us on our way out. The weight, Jim estimates 110 and I estimate 105 and later weighed at 108, is not easy to bear so we leave the tree stands, my shotgun, and other equipment at Buck Bed which we later retrieve.
After an hour or more, we finally get the deer to the truck and the journey would have been nearly impossible for one person. We moved the deer in 20 to 30 yard segments before laying it down for a moment while we catch our breath and ease our aching shoulders and legs.
The amazing thing is that producing a buck eases all the tension and self-doubt of the hunt. Before getting a deer, questions breed endlessly such as, 'Are we in the right location? Is our scent control adequate? Was an accidental noise enough to scare a deer away? Is the wind shifting too wildly? When will I see, let alone kill, a deer?'
Jim's wife smiled when she saw the deer and teased him, 'It looks a little small! But where are you going to put the meat?' Nothing could defeat our spirits after such a successful hunt, until next year.
--By Tim Somero
In The Last Fog of November
Saw straight through into December.
It never occurred to me that I remember
The vibrant orange hues of Autumn's day past.
Crisp crunch of a MacIntosh last.
Or some yawing grin-grin-grin of a Jack-o-Latern cast.
Or of warm days in summer.
Sliced tomato and cucumber.
Of bicycle rides free and unencumbered
Relative blissful unimpeded slumber.
There were hikes in June & July and again.
September's slog up the Valley way.
There were were beach days in October.
Trips home and
Bicycle crashes in November.
Mourning Doves in covey's and then never.
These and so many other things
I now remember as I slog into December.
--Mike D. (Winged Foot) 30 Nov 2006
The wonderful group of NH Flickr Photographers who contributed to the NH Photo Tour 2007 Calendar got together today to sign each other's calendars.
Bruce Denis and son, me, Tim Somero, Cindy Ware, Val Bell, Jeff Forbes, Mike Costolo, (virtually there) Spencer Batchelder, Daman Sidhu, Mike Dailey
Calendar Signing by one and (almost) all!
What a great time was had by all.
Maybe we got there late (I still haven't set my camera clock back. I just remembered about it today...doh!), but there sure didn't seem to be as much going on this year as there has been in other years. All in all, I think it was a bit of a disappointment. Even the ice sculptures seemed smaller.
After '08 announcement, Vilsack makes beeline to N.H.
By Holly Ramer, Associated Press Writer | November 30, 2006
CONCORD, N.H. --Facing the first Democrat to formally enter the race for president in 2008, New Hampshire voters got right down to business Thursday, pressing Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack on a range of domestic and foreign issues.
When Vilsack was introduced at a dinner organized by Merrimack County Democrats, Beth Campbell was dismayed to hear a reduction in state workers was included among Vilsack's other accomplishments.
"As a state employee in the state of New Hampshire, I'd like to know why that's a good thing?" she asked him as soon as he opened the floor to questions.
Vilsack explained that the reductions came through early retirements, not layoffs, and were part of an efficiency plan that resulted in higher salaries for the remaining workers.
"Which was the choice state workers made," he said. "It wasn't a good thing or a bad thing, but a reflection of dealing with difficult fiscal times. You have to make tough decisions, and I think what you want in people you elect to government is the ability to make tough decisions."
That satisfied Campbell, who works for the Department of Employment Security.
"I was all set to be angry with him, because I'm a union member, but he did very well," said Campbell, who is shopping around for a candidate to back since her first choice, Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, "dumped" her by deciding not to run.
Vilsack, who is finishing his second term, announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier in his hometown of Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Though political analysts say a Midwestern governor running as an outsider may appeal to voters unhappy with corruption and partisan bickering in Washington, Vilsack has a low profile outside Iowa and even he acknowledges his candidacy is a long shot. In the most recent New Hampshire poll, taken in late September, he wasn't included among the possible Democratic candidates.
Vilsack he said he plans an aggressive national campaign that will focus on encouraging ordinary people to get involved in changing the country.
"I believe very strongly that the solutions to America's problems are on Main Street, not K Street, so I'm looking forward to campaigning in a place like New Hampshire where I'll have an opportunity to listen," he said in an interview before the dinner. "This isn't just about me, it's about people talking to me and encouraging them to participate in the process."
Few in the audience needed encouragement, however. One questioner began a lengthy question about what Vilsack would do to address the problem of global warming, then ended by linking the issue to campaign finance reform.
"So I want you to talk about that, too," he said.
"Do we have breakfast coming?" Vilsack joked before returning to what he called the fundamental issue of his campaign: weaning the nation off foreign oil and promoting alternative energy.
"I'm not sure it's dependent on campaign finance reform," he said. "But it really is the issue that allows us to say the solutions to America's problems are right here."
Vilsack was less direct when asked how he would respond if New Hampshire moves its presidential primary ahead of the Iowa caucus. Traditionally the Iowa caucuses have opened the nominating season, followed by the New Hampshire primary eight days later, but the Democratic National Committee has approved a Nevada caucus in between. New Hampshire has not set its 2008 date, and there has been some speculation that the state may move its contest ahead of all other states to comply with state law.
Vilsack praised the voters of both states for preparing candidates not just for vigorous campaigns but for governing.
"I think it's important for Iowa and New Hampshire to maintain their status as first-in-the-nation caucus and first-in-the-nation primary," he said. "I hope whatever the calendar ends up being, Iowa and New Hampshire are preserved as first in the nation."
Even if New Hampshire's "first" came first?
"I understand that there is the power of the Secretary of State to make those decisions ... but we will work through that," Vilsack said. "The whole point of this exercise is to make sure we have a vigorous debate that involves retail politics at its most grass-roots level."
Part of the remains of the now aptly named Fort Stark in Newcastle, NH as seen from Odiorne Point State Park.
Group works to return historic monument to seaside site
By Karen Dandurant
RYE -- Nestled in the middle of the woods in what may be the oldest family burial plot in New Hampshire sits a monument that is not a gravestone marker.
Surrounded by Odiorne family graves with markings from the 1800s -- and many that are obviously much, much older -- the Founders Monument doesn't really belong in a graveyard.
Most people probably do not even know it's there.
It was originally placed overlooking the ocean at Odiorne Point in 1899 by the National Society of the Colonial Dames in New Hampshire to commemorate the landing of the first Pilgrim settlers in New Hampshire in 1623, like Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts.
It was located at the end of Columbus Road at Odiorne Point State Park. The road is now only a fragment, but the bluff where it stood remains.
To this day, members of the N.H. Colonial Dames maintain the monument and the graveyard.
It is the mission of the Colonial Dames to preserve artifacts, records and all aspects of Colonial times. Each member can trace family lineage to that time period and is a direct descendent of the state's founders.
There are two schools of thought on why the monument was moved to the graveyard; now there is a group trying to get it moved back to its original location.
Rye resident Tom Pearson, who is helping the cause by doing historical research, said he believes the monument was moved around 1955 because of cliff erosion.
"It looks kind of forlorn where it is now," said Pearson. "I think it was intended to be returned when the cliffs were repaired, but was then forgotten."
Wendy Lull, director of the Seacoast Science Center at Odiorne Point State Park, said some believe it was moved during World War I because residents thought it might be stolen.
"(Pearson) is a really interesting guy who has done an outstanding job of doing the legwork to find where that was originally sited," said Lull. "I think that it makes a lot of sense to move it back. Now it's a matter for the Parks Department and Historic Resources to authorize the move. I'd like to see it there, as just one more reminder of all the different uses humans have had on this property since the 17th century."
Lull said documentation proves that Scotsman David Thompson arrived in 1623, but there is evidence the land may have been used earlier, as summer encampments by American Indians.
"Amateur historians who studied the history are convinced that's what it was, and if you read early history of ships' logs, there are observations of Indians," said Lull.
In about 1660, John Odiorne, under a grant from the Plymouth Foundation, bought the land and built a home for his family. Eight generations of Odiornes lived there until the land was taken by eminent domain during World War II. It was given to the state after the war for use as a park.
The graveyard is down a path behind one of the homes that had been occupied by the Odiorne family. The property is now owned by the state.
Brian Warburton, director of the State Parks Department, said Pearson has approached him about moving the monument.
"It's very preliminary, and at this point all I can say is it's in the discussion stages right now," said Warburton.
Pearson said the Rye Historical Society supports moving the monument. He said there is no large cost attached to the project.
"I think eventually, all we might need is a group of volunteers to help maintain it," he said.
A Brief History of Searles Castle
Searles Castle was built under the direction of Edward F. Searles, an interior decorator and antique collector. Having traced his ancestry to the Oxfordshire Harcourt family, he engaged the prominent architect, Henry Vaughn to design the castle in the style of Stanton Harcourt Manor in Oxon County, England. The building was completed in 1915 at a cost estimated to have been in excess of $1,250,000. The castle, located at 21 Searles Rd. in Windham, NH, contains 20 rooms.
Searles is said to have employed the finest masons and woodworkers to construct the castle, and imported marble and artifacts from Europe to furnish it. Examples of the fine work are found in the carved oak balcony, and the marble fireplaces. Edward Francis Searles was born on July 4, 1841, In Methuen, Massachusetts. At the age of thirteen he went to work in a cotton mill to support his widowed mother and his brother. His love of art and music, later to be his hallmark, were in evidence early in his life. At the age of twenty-one he was teaching piano and organ in Bath, Maine.
In 1875, after an apprenticeship with a Boston firm, Searles became an interior decorator for the prestigious Herter Brothers of New York City. In 1881, he met Mary Hopkins, a Herter Brothers client, in San Francisco. Her husband, Mark Hopkins, part-owner of the Southern Pacific Railroad, had died in 1878. He left his wife an inheritance of sixty-one million dollars. Mary Hopkins commissioned Searles to design the interior of her Nob Hill home, and to work on Kellogg Terrace in her birthplace of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. They were married on November 8, 1887 in New York City. He was forty-seven; she was about sixty-seven. From Mary's death in 1891 until his own, Searles was involved in building projects in Methuen, Massachusetts, as well as Salem and Windham, New Hampshire. He died in 1920.
I hear the crusty snow snapping and I think, 'Deer!?!'
I creep around to find that my cousin's horse is close by as it trollops through the crusty snow past my uncle's laundry drying silently in the night air.
Our February Calendar Shot.
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There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it.