November 29, 2019
by Bonnie Keast
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November 2019 New Hampshire Notes

0bb60da2-c23a-44ee-977e-6674c8a794bf   1November is an in-between month here in New England. The days grow shorter rapidly, there’s more sky to see as the deciduous trees have finally lost their leaves, and the buses of “leaf peepers” have disappeared. Winter is in the air but no snow has fallen yet in my seacoast area of New Hampshire. Although with temperatures in the 30’s, it won’t be long. I grew up in southern California and the family moved to New England when I was in my early teens. It was quite a shock. Certainly, there was the beauty of fall and the excitement of waiting for the first snowfall but most of all it was the New England quirks of language and pronunciation that confused me.

In Home Economics I was told I needed a “patn”. I couldn’t figure out what that was, can you? Someone asked me where the bubbler was 2and I hadn’t a clue about what it was, do you? Then a friend invited me to get a “frappe” – a what? During the summer, we’d walk to the ice cream store and have them put “jimmies” on our cones. For a while it was almost like 3being in a foreign country, but things gradually worked out. During “muggy” summers, I learned what high humidity feels like and as I got older, I recognized that a “beater” was the best car I could afford and while driving I kept an eye out for a “cruiser”. And, although it took a while, I did learn to drive properly in a rotary.

Returning to New England after living in northern California for decades feels like returning home. I know that I may turn the AC and the heat on during the same day. Yes, temperature can change that fast here. I keep an ice scraper in my car all year long because you never know. I enjoy the fact that New Hampshire is one of 5 states with no sales tax and recognize the abundance of shopping areas on the state’s borders for those folks who want to take advantage of that fact. I don’t drink much Moxie because of its bitter taste and occasionally enjoy a whoppie pie, the official state treat of Maine. And I support the Maine law making it illegal to put tomatoes in clam chowdah. Best wishes to you all for a happy and satisfying holiday season,

November 7, 2019
by Bonnie Keast
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October 2019 New Hampshire Notes

Oct 2019 Banner for Bonnie

 One of the delightful things about New England is its size. The six states together are less than half the size of California and travel between the states is quite easy. From Exeter I can drive 20 minutes north and be in Maine or 20 minutes south and be in Massachusetts. For a change, I can drive east 20 minutes and walk on an Atlantic coast beach.

2Last week I took a trip to Salem, Massachusetts, to visit the Witch Museum, a fitting place to visit near Halloween.  Interestingly, the museum is housed in what originally was the Second Unitarian Church of Salem, built and used as a church until 1902.  After several other occupants had come and gone, the Salem Witch Museum opened in 1972.  While thousands of (mostly) women were executed as witches in Europe from the 15th century onward, the Salem trials and executions took place only between March 1692 and May 1693.  The Governor ended the practice when his wife was accused of witchcraft.  

As the museum presentation explained, an influx of refugees from the King William war had strained the resources of the village and many quarrels broke out which the Puritan villagers blamed on the work of the devil.  Fear of the devil and his works was a primal fear for the citizens of Salem during those years.  Then the local doctor, Dr. Griggs, pronounced that the supernatural had caused fits in three young village girls he was called to treat. That became the trigger and the villagers decided that the scapegoats were those people who practiced witchcraft. 

I was most impressed with where the museum took the Salem village trials of the 17th century and moved them forward.  At the end of the presentation, we walked toward a wall with the following list of fears+triggers=scapegoat from our more current history: 

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I personally found it both interesting and depressing to look at our country’s more current activities and realize that our fears continue to seek convenient scapegoats.

1Instead of getting angry or frustrated with the state of the world, a walk outside admiring nature refreshes mind and body.  Throughout the month the leaves have continued to change and fall.  Now at the beginning of November, the last of the deciduous trees are in full color with their outer leaves bright yellow.  Each of the trees appears to have a golden lace cloth draped over the green leaves closest to the tree trunk.  Soon these late-changers will also show empty branches and twigs, their winter garb.

Wishing you all a most happy November.  

October 16, 2019
by Bonnie Keast
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September 2019 New Hampshire Notes

ef34ad98-bae0-4f3d-817d-9c873c56fffc

 

bbfe14ba-a713-4be9-8036-753f96a40dd2It was Bugsy Gates who introduced me to photosynthesis. Of course, Bugsy was not her first name, it was just the way we sophomore students referred to her behind her back, mostly with affection. I suspect the nickname was acquired because she taught biology and bugs were part of the curriculum.

Each fall I’m reminded of that biology class as taught by Miss Gates. She taught us that the foliage display depends on a combination of hours of daylight, nighttime temperatures, and amounts of rainfall. During spring and summer, the chlorophyll in trees’ leaves uses light energy from the sun to mix water and carbon dioxide into chemical energy. This process provides the tree with needed organic compounds and us with fresh oxygen. 40436467-01a1-4cd1-b995-cf533aded5f4Once the nighttime temperatures begin dropping, often in August, trees get the signal from Mother Nature to gradually cut down their production of chlorophyll. The color pigments in leaves are not green at all but really yellow, orange, brown, and, in some trees, red. The bright green of chlorophyll masks these colors during spring and summer so, actually, fall brings out the leaves true colors!

f1d3fef4-b7c5-49a6-b7e6-5f2d6504af6bLiving again in New England, I’m noticing that each day brings a bit more color. Sometimes it’s just a few leaves near the top that offer a pop of red or orange. Other times, a small tree can be washed with yellow almost overnight. The color changes are fleeting, like moments of life, so you have to pay attention to trees in the fall or you’ll miss the soul-satisfying beauty of nature changing herself from summer liveliness into winter sleep.

Another memory of Bugsy’s class was the book she’d read a few pages from at the end of class if we had been “good” (not clearly defined). The book was entitled “Mr. Limpet”. We sophisticated fifteen/sixteen year- olds mostly did cooperate so we could hear more of the story about a man who fell into the water and turned into a fish. He then aided the Allies during WWII by seeking out enemy submarines. I suppose the story had some relationship to our science studies (the fish as a species) but the fact that I remember the story, Bugsy, and where I sat b96d6e9e-e4fd-4173-af91-083c4c55994bwhile listening is a key. Like witnessing once again nature’s fall cycle, memories of sophomore biology class are treasures to be savored during the long winter ahead.

3392acde-fd74-4bcb-abf4-8c3ced21509cP.S. As I’m writing this in early October, you’ll notice the trees are only part way through their transformation. The scientists figure out when peak season will be and here’s a map showing when the leaves are turning this year in your neck of the woods!

https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/

September 2, 2019
by Bonnie Keast
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August 2019 New Hampshire Notes

Although fall is officially almost a month away, there are signs that it’s coming.  A few of our trees are showing their first bits of color and I spotted a leaf that fell before it had completed its fall makeover.  The state of New Hampshire also prepares for the coming seasons by ordering and storing salt and sand to use on wintery roads.  These supplies are brought by ship into Portsmouth Harbor and now sit under huge white tarps near the water.In all seasons I enjoy walking along the nearby beaches. Whenever I beach walk somewhere on the 18 miles of New Hampshire Atlantic coastline, I look at the islands roughly seven miles offshore.  Now known as the Isles of Shoals, these nine little islands (only eight in high tide) are named for a fish behavior.  Fish that swim together for social reasons are known as shoalers.

In 1614, John Smith (yes, that John Smith of Pocahontas fame) wrote about these little islands and named the desolate dots of land in the sea Smyth’s Isles.  The abundance of fish in the area (cod mostly) had attracted fishermen throughout history.  There is evidence that Native Americans fished in this area as much as 6,000 years ago.  Because of John’s explorations, the area became known to the British and others who continued lucrative fishing until the mid-eighteen hundreds when the fish population dropped.  At its peak, they were landing cod weighing between 100 and 150 pounds!  Besides the fish stories, there are interesting historical bits attached to these little rocks in the sea.  Pirates hid in the caves and the pirate Blackbeard is said to have left one of his many brides to guard his treasure when he was pursued by the British.  Ghosts of various sorts are said to wander, especially around the lighthouse.

Appledore is the largest island at about 95 acres.  During the late eighteen hundreds, it became an artist colony and retreat for the well-to-do with the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Sarah Orne Jewett regularly staying at the island’s hotel.  Nearby Smuttynose Island was the scene of a grisly murder in 1873.

Last week I took a ferry out of Portsmouth Harbor and had a peaceful narrated ride across the Piscataway River to Star Island, now a Unitarian Conference Center.  Fishing originally brought people to the island, then the new hotel built in 1876 invited well-heeled Bostonians and New Yorkers to spend part of their summers there.  With electric bells, gas lighting, and “open plumbing with perfect drainage” (whatever that means), the wealthy flocked to Star Island.  The hotel is still there, now called the Oceanic, and is one of fewer than ten remaining Grand Hotels and the only one that hasn’t been completely renovated.

The day we visited, there was time to walk around the island.  I saw the solar array, built in 2014, with over 400 panels providing 100% of the energy needs for the island (60% during their summer high season).  Adults were sitting on the wrap-around porch reading, children were engaged in crafts, there were tie-dye shirts drying in the sun, and the ocean breeze was energizing.  A ride back on the ferry completed another interesting day in New Hampshire.

P.S.  Star is one of 4 islands under New Hampshire’s jurisdiction.  Appledore and 4 others belong to Maine, but were once a part of Massachusetts.  In the early 1700’s there were about forty homes on Appledore and Massachusetts levied a tax on them.  Although the “Live Free” New Hampshire motto wasn’t then in use, the forty families dismantled their houses, put the disassembled parts and their belongings on boats, and rowed across the harbor.  They then reassembled the houses on Star Island where there was no tax.

August 8, 2019
by Bonnie Keast
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July 2019 New Hampshire Notes Special Edition

2018 Banner for Bonnie

France, a country rich in historic events, distinctive culture, quirky art, delicious foods, and intriguing wines has been singing her siren song to me for several years.   In June, I was able to begin exploring Brittany and Normandy with Country Walkers.  What an adventure!  Here are a few highlights:

Arriving in Paris, I quickly realized that many thousands of people from all over the world had also listened to France’s come hither invitation.  It’s a city teeming with activity.  Pedestrians, motorcycles, and cars all race to get somewhere, even if only to circle the Arc de Triomphe at top speed.  

1However, we were soon away from the Paris bustle and enjoying the beauty of Normandy.  Our first stop was at a family-owned estate to learn more about apple cider and Calvados and to experience some of the delicacies of the region. In the United States, cider is non-alcoholic apple juice.  In France, currently the largest cider-producing country in the world, cider is an alcoholic beverage and a yummy one at that. 

The apples are not picked from the trees but rather are harvested in September when they are sweetest and, in their ripeness, fall to the ground.  After going through several extraction and distilling processes, the cider is bottled.  Further distilling cider and aging it in oak barrels produces the apple liqueur, Calvados. Aging time ranges from 2 years to over 10.  As the manager said, “We work today for tomorrow.”  A rather useful motto, for both farmers and urbanites!

Another stop was the iconic Mont Saint-Michel.  For the French, the Mont represents a symbol of their national identity.  In long wars with the English, it was never conquered.  Although mostly used as a monastery, it became a prison after the French Revolution in 1789 and was used as such until 1863 when it again became monastic.  Although fewer than 30 people live on the island now, three million people visit each year.

2Pilgrims and visitors have been traveling there for centuries.  According to legend, St. Michel appeared to the bishop in a nearby town and commanded him to build a church on the rocky island.  The original buildings were in the Roman style.  Later centuries brought Gothic influences.  Seen from afar, the tall church spire looks like a tiny dot that gradually grows bigger and more magnificent  with each passing mile.  

Two times a day, the tides rush in and surround the granite rocks and walls of the island.  Until a causeway was built in recent times, the timing had to be right to successfully get to and from St. Michel’s Abbey. The low-tide sands can be treacherous; quicksand can swallow the unwary.  If you get caught in quicksand, I’ll give you a tip: don’t struggle as you’ll only sink deeper.  Simply pretend you are climbing stairs (if you’re not too terrified to remember this) and you will gradually come back to the top. 

Once on the island, tourists thread their way through narrow streets surrounded by stone buildings holding shops and eateries then climb up to the Church itself.  The visit to the actual church is not for the faint of heart as there are two to three hundred stairs to climb, depending on your route.  The day we visited, France was in the middle of a heat wave and even the sea gulls (nesting time for them) were squawking their irritation.  

3Another highlight of this trip was a visit to the beaches on the Norman coast, a trip back in time to D-Day, 1944.  Lucy, our historian guide for this day, provided a map drawn in the sand and detailed descriptions of preparations and events.  Although we know the outcome of those battles, we stood on the sands looking at what still remains of the fortifications and landing machinery and felt the invasion days come alive through her anecdotes. 

Lucy has gone back to various reunions of the veterans and spoke especially of one man, now in his late 80’s, who told her he drove a tank onto the beach that June day.  He had to drive over some of his comrades, both dying and dead, and said, “I wasn’t killed on the beach that day, but I died there.”  I left the beach with grim feelings, a visceral clenching about the horrors of battles, and that quote.

Our day concluded with a trip to the American Cemetery where over 9,000 young men are buried.  There is also a section in the cemetery dedicated to the German soldiers who died there.  They too were serving their country and also left behind many people who loved them. 

I found this letter more difficult to write than previous Special Editions as there was SO much I wanted to share.  What about our hike into the charming city of Honfleur and our visit St. Catherine’s Church built by shipbuilders?  Or our ride through Le Harve and our admiration for the city which rebuilt itself after being largely destroyed during WWII and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site?  And what about the amazing embroidered tapestry in Bayeux where we saw the story of William the Conqueror and the battles of 1066?  That embroidery on linen was over 70 yards long! So instead of writing more, I’ll conclude with a few pictures.  Enjoy!

The tide is out at Mont St. Michel.
Remember I said that Mont St. Michel was once used as a prison?
In order to transport supplies to the top, prisoners walked in this giant gerbil wheel attached to chains that pulled the necessities up the steep hills.
France had some of the best lettuce I’ve ever tasted. And, of course, deliciousness didn’t stop there. There were crepes, seafood, caramels…you get the picture.
Some of the beautiful sights along the coast of Brittany.
Then there was the art. That green wall is actually filled with living plants as part of a hotel conference room. The statue stood proudly as part of a highway decoration.
And finally there is this delightful little booklet. It’s little guide for staying young filled with recommendations. It was on a stand in a truck stop shop where our 7-11 stores put Items like Cheetos. Vive la France!

August 2, 2019
by Bonnie Keast
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July 2019 New Hampshire Notes

7-2019 Banner for Bonnie

 

1Summer is in full swing here in New Hampshire.  Cars head north to the beaches and mountains on Fridays and Saturdays. On Sundays and Mondays, there’s heavy traffic in the southbound lanes. For those of you who live in TRULY heavy traffic areas year-round, this picture shows about how bad it gets here on the interstate during vacation time. 

2New Hampshire has one National Park and it’s dedicated to a sculptor.  While I was somewhat familiar with the National Parks System, I hadn’t really known that the parks are so varied in focus.  In fact there are 20 categories of national parks, including a group named “Assorted Others”.  Saint-Gaudens National Historic Park was authorized by Congress in 1964 and established in 1977.  It honors the life and work of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. 

3Augustus Saint-Gaudens is one of our greatest American sculptors.  He was most active in the late 19th century.  Augustus began his career as an apprentice to a cameo maker.  His talent and reputation grew and he began attracting commissions for larger works. Gradually he become the foremost sculptor of his time. His pieces tell powerful stories by combining realism with allegory.     While well-known for his public monuments such as “Standing Lincoln” and the “Shaw Memorial”, Augustus also designed several of our American coins.

Although a New Yorker, Augustus and his family wanted to escape the heat of New York City during the summers.  A friend invited the family to Cornish in 1885 and even provided a house.  Augustus and his wife had many artistic friends and gradually more and more of those friends came to visit during the summer.  The group gradually became known as the Cornish Art Colony. 

Walking through the park, the visitor sees replicas of many of the large public monuments designed by Saint-Gaudens.  One of the most impressive is the Shaw Memorial.  The original stands on a corner of the Boston Commons and is a frequent stop on guided tours.  Colonel Robert Shaw, a Massachusetts solder,  was commander of the first volunteer regiment of black soldiers during the Civil War.  He was killed leading his men while storming a Confederate held fort.  The story of Colonel Shaw’s unit inspired thousands of African-American men to fight for the Union forces and their contributions were instrumental to Union victory.  Saint-Gaudens captured so much of the feelings of the time in the faces of the men on this monument.

My favorite sculpture in Saint-Gaudens’ park was entitled by Saint-Gaudens “The Mystery of the Hereafter – beyond pain and beyond joy”.  It was commissioned by historian Henry Adams for the grave of his wife.  Adams did not want the figure to represent her but wanted it to be general, so Saint-Gaudens used both male and female models.

5Before preparing this edition of NH Notes, I thought of the National Park system in terms of the 61 National Parks like Arcadia in Maine or Zion in Utah; they are places of great natural beauty.  But there are also 76 National Historic Sites like Carl Sandburg’s Home in North Carolina,  the Tuskegee Airmen in Alabama, and the Eugene O’Neill Historic Site in my former home of Danville, California.  In looking at the lists of National Historic Sites and Parks, I’ve spotted several of great interest.  A number of them are here in New England, so don’t be surprised if a future letter features yet another of our National Park treasures.

July 22, 2019
by Bonnie Keast
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Let’s Pull Together

Learning Cooperation

During our recent Fourth of July celebration, I received 2 emails that fit together and address a crying need within our current political and cultural climate. The first one, from Richard Rohr’s daily meditation message, was entitled “Civil Rights and Obligations”. As guest writer, Sister Simone Campbell (“the nun on the bus”) reviewed America’s efforts to atone for the sins of slavery with the civil rights movements during the 1950’s and 60’s. This movement focused on the individual’s right to exercise the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution. In the article, Sister Simone noted that some Americans, largely white men who profess conservative Christianity, felt threatened and pushed back. In part, this reaction created the tea party movement of the first decade of the 21st century.

She went on to write that democracy cannot survive if everyone is pulling in different directions. In order that all citizens have the opportunity for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, we must recognize each person, having inherent dignity and gifts, must be respected no matter their skin color, religious beliefs, or place of origin. She asks if perhaps the first part of our twenty-first century should concentrate on civil responsibilities as a balance to our past focus on civil rights. Civil obligations call each of us to work for the good of the whole. This means “we all need our civil rights so we can all exercise our civic obligations.” Our responsibility then is to build up the whole of society.

Arriving the same day was a message from one of our current presidential candidates, Pete Buttigieg. In his letter, Pete recalled his military service. He pointed out that serving with people from all backgrounds, often with nothing in common more than the fact they were American and in uniform, gave him a unique sense of connection. He wrote that young Americans need many opportunities to grow that sense of connectedness he felt in Afghanistan without having to go to war.

The goal of his plan is to greatly expand the opportunities for high school graduates to serve. These opportunities offer chances for students to explore different vocational directions as well as experience the strength of interdependence and the satisfaction of making a difference to others. Service orientation as part of the federal agenda began with implementation of the Peace Corps in the early 1960’s and has continued through various programs initiated by a succession of presidents.

Selective Service draft ended in 1973. While volunteering for military service is still an option, programs such as AmeriCorps, VISTA, and City Year provide young people with chances to serve disadvantaged communities and help in areas of education, construction, and organizing for local solutions to ongoing issues. Pete wrote that these programs should be greatly expanded.

I’m fully in favor of opportunities for young people to learn more about service in ways that help them figure out what their role in the world will be. Many countries embrace the gap year concept, a time when high school students can leave the routine of high school for a semester or a year and do volunteer work while keeping connected with mentors at their school. Often this is scheduled during Sophomore or Junior year and gives students a chance to explore themselves and their relationship to the world at large. When they return to the routine of high school, they frequently have a much clearer vision of how they want to proceed beyond high school. American students do not have this luxury and Mayor Pete’s plan and similar ones have the potential to build a much stronger America.

June 30, 2019
by Bonnie Keast
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June 2019 New Hampshire Notes

New Hampshire Notes

 

1It’s now spring/summer and the birds have been busy. Exeter citizens enjoy watching the parent ducks on the river training their broods, showing them the best feeding places and how to stay out of trouble. 

3However, along with the bursts of flowers, spring has brought pollen.  The picture shows the hood of my car, left out overnight.  By morning it’s coated with pollen, then rains come and wash pollen away.  Or the rain doesn’t come and pollen thickly coats the car. No wonder there’s so much sneezing here in the spring!

Exeter has a rather strange town seal.  Since the town was never incorporated, the seal states that Exeter was founded in 1638.  Sometime during the 1920’s, the town fathers discovered they needed an actual seal in order to issue bonds. So, as a practical New Englander and member of the bond committee, Albert N. Dow promptly designed the seal, the bond committee stamped the bond issues, and that was that.

4So, why did Mr. Dow choose a fish for the seal and why the alewife?  He decided a fish fit better in the limited space. The alewife, a very bony relative of herring, was abundant in the early days of the town and commonly used for fertilizer or bait. It also had that much prized New Englander quality of stick-to-it-ivness. 

This abundance disappeared when town entrepreneurs began building dams on the river to power various manufacturing enterprises. For centuries salmon, bass, and shad had migrated from the Atlantic into freshwater rivers to spawn.  With the dams, fish migration slowed and salmon, bass, and shad just about gave up trying.  Even various fish ladders didn’t make a an appreciable difference to those fish.  However, the stubborn alewife persevered and continued to successfully make their way to spawning grounds, though in lesser numbers.  For various reasons, the dams were gradually removed and since 2016 fish are once again populating the Exeter rivers. Fishermen are delighted, and so are all the birds! 

5On another note, my dad started me enjoying baseball and the Red Sox were my team of choice for many years.  Their rivalry with the Yankee’s is legendary and this month I traveled with a busload of Red Sox fans to Yankee Stadium for a Saturday evening game.  The building is impressive, the history of the Yankee organization remarkable, and the Red Sox lost another game to the “D” Yankees.  Sigh…

May 25, 2019
by Bonnie Keast
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April – May 2019 New Hampshire Notes

New Hampshire Notes

The myths of King Arthur, Merlin, and the Lady of the Lake have always fascinated me.  In fact, I was once in a summer theater production of the musical Camelot and could imagine being in that magical place during each performance.  Although there is no proof positive that Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table actually lived, the entrepreneurial folks in Cornwall, England, are happy to provide visitors with possibilities at the Arthurian Centre in Tintagel.

Cornwall, the county in the most southwesterly part of England, has a population of roughly half a million residents and hosts between 4 and 5 million visitors each year.  Besides its temperate climate, picturesque villages, historic sites, and wealth of beaches, people come to see the land of the BBC series “Poldark” and “Doc Martin” and revel in the romance of pirate adventures and King Arthur legends.  

The coastline has spectacular views. Land’s End has been a tourist destination for over 300 years and now there’s even a theme park on that lonely spit of land.  If you would like to part with your money, you can pay about $13 to have your picture taken with the iconic sign. Aside from the crass commercialism of the concession stands, views of the sea and coastline are stunning and your mind can run riot imagining sailing ships of old, pirates, and adventurers beginning or ending their journey in one of the nearby coves. It is said that pirates would flash lights to lure hapless ships onto the rocks then row out and plunder the booty and store it in the many sea caves. 

Land’s End was just one of the many places in Cornwall that I visited on my last trip.  Road Scholar provided a lively group leader, an excellent guide, and a companionable group of people. From London our bus took us to Falmouth.  This was our home base  and is  the city where Charles Darwin landed in 1836 after a 5 year expedition during which he collected specimens and developed his theories of evolution.  Falmouth also has the distinction of having the third deepest natural harbor in the world and is guarded by 2 castles from the time of Henry VIII.

Did you know that your Apple ipad contains about 3 grams of tin?  It’s a valuable metal and has been important to the Cornish economy for over 4,000 years. Dotting the landscape are the abandoned towers of tin mines build during the 19th century.  The last mine closed 1998 when it was no longer profitable.  Arsenic is a by-product of tin mining and thus the work was dangerous and most miners did not live past middle-age.  Cornwall miners also worked in china clay mines.  Discovered in 1746, the clay was used in fine porcelain dishes and also in paper, paint, and cosmetics.  By 1910, Cornwall had a virtual monopoly on this fine clay.  The clay pits form deep canyons in the landscape and the unused earth forms hills, now covered with vegetation.  

In the background of the china clay pit picture, you can see a wind turbine.  These turbines are scattered all over the countryside.  Cornwall has invested heavily in wind, solar, and tide power and expects to be energy self-sustaining in 7 or 8 years. In fact, many farmers have even “planted” solar panels in their fields instead of crops. 

I’m sure you have heard of Cornish pasties, those hand pies that formed the staple meal for miners.  Traditionally, they are filled with rutabaga or turnip (personal UGG here), onion, potato, and meat.  Often the miner’s initials were carved in the crust as vent holes.  Well, I wanted to sample one as they now have many more interesting fillings.  I was happily munching on my lunch pasty near the harbor when a seagull swooped out of nowhere and stole it!  In a matter of seconds, he and his thieving friends had gobbled it all up.  No one had warned me that gulls keep an eye out for careless eaters.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan were in full bloom when we visited.  For hundreds of years, the gardens thrived but became “lost” after World War I.  You see, 13 of the outdoor staff served during the war and nine gave their lives.  The sorrowful owner moved away, renting out the estate as he could no longer “live with the ghosts”.  The gardens gradually fell into disrepair.  In the 1990’s a descendent of the original owners and a friend became interested in restoring the gardens and have dedicated it as a tribute to WWI volunteers.  The gardens are now filled with heritage plantings and it’s a peaceful place, inviting appreciation and reflection.  And, as you can see, there are bits of humor also.

April 5, 2019
by Bonnie Keast
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March New Hampshire Notes

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mar1mar2I saw an advertisement for a craft show in a nearby town earlier this month and thought I’d check it out. Held inthe Wentworth Greenhouses, both the plants and crafts were varied and impressive. The business itself grew from a small family-owned farm stand to a building with over six acres of covered greenhouses. During the winter, juried crafts share space with plants and garden products. As you can see, many of the crafts are whimsical. There was even an entertaining parrot in a vest. His handler said that disease had taken many of his breast feathers and she made the little vest to protect his skin.

ma3The greenhouses are in Rollinsford, another of New Hampshire’s small towns with a population of just over 2,500 citizens. Centuries ago, the Abernaki Indians fished there by mar4stretching nets across the river to catch migrating salmon. Later, textile mills were big business utilizing the power of the rushing river water. Town planners originally forbade mill workers from drinking alcohol and required they attend church on Sundays. Those rules, like the mills themselves, gradually fell by the wayside and now the Mills offer low-cost studio space to artists. Dave Guard, my favorite Kingston Trio singer, was born in Rollinsford.The town is also home to North Country Hard Cider Company. They use only fresh apples and yeast to make delicious hard cider. You can drink it in their tasting room or take some home in cans or growlers. For the uninitiated, a growler is a container holding four pints of liquid.
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mar6On the political scene, Exeter holds annual elections during March. The town has an elected Select Board and Town Meeting form of government. After presentation by town officials and deliberation at a February Town Meeting which is open to all voters, warrants are placed on a ballot. This long ballot included candidates for town and school board offices and citizen petition articles. There were also recommendations for zoning amendments and the town budget including improvements to the library, the sewer-operating budget, a pay raise for the firefighters, and sidewalk repairs. mar7Budget items affect property taxes and the impact is spelled out. It’s quite a transparent and democratic process.

mar8PS Did you guess the trivia question in February’s NH Notes? The picture showed the rake part of an eel catcher, used for pulling eels out of the mud at the bottom of nearby rivers. Before you say “UGGG”, know that eels are a great nutritional source of omega 3’s!