Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Samhain!

Sunset today will mark the beginning of Samhain, the last of the three Celtic harvest festivals. The word Samhain means 'summer's end' and from this point we are in the dark time of the year and the days get shorter and the nights get longer as we move towards the Winter Solstice. The Celtic people measured the days from one sunset to the next so Samhain will end at sunset tomorrow.

This is also the time when we remember our ancestors who have passed on to the Summerlands. I haven't yet set out the candles that I will light this evening but this is one from a previous year. It is surrounded with the herb rosemary for remembrance and tonight there will be individual candles for my parents and grandparents and a single large one for all the many past generations stretching back into the mists of time. I wish both them and you a Happy and Blessed Samhain.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Further Afield

At the moment blogging is having to take second place to sorting the garden out ready for winter hence the long gaps between posts. Not that I garden in the dark but by evening it's energy that's lacking rather than time. Today, however, I have been a 'lady who lunches' and a day of gallivanting has left me with rather more brain than is usual at this time of night so I thought I'd do the next instalment of my US trip. One place I always visit is Nubble lighthouse at Cape Neddick in York, Maine. It's a beautiful place as is all the Maine coastline.

There's somewhere else worth visiting in York too - saltwater taffy has been made at the Goldenrod shop for over 100 years, originally Edward Talpey stood in this window and pulled the taffy by hand, now it's done by machine but it is still a sight that people stop to see. As always I brought home a large box of the end result in a dozen different flavours - I love it:)

When we came out of the shop this wonderful car was parked outside - isn't it absolutely fabulous?

This is the Remick Country Doctor and farm Museum in Tamworth, New Hampshire which is well worth visiting if you are in the area. The Remick family settled in Tamworth over 200 years ago and six generations of the family have worked the farm since that time. The last two owners, father and son, were country doctors as well as farmers and between them they cared for the local population for 99 years. The younger Dr Remick died childless in 1993 but he set up a foundation to preserve the farm along with his home so that the public could visit and learn about the old ways of farming and doctoring.

The Enoch Remick house, built in 1808, was where the elder Dr Remick lived and the younger one grew up and had his doctor's surgery. The younger Dr Remick and his wife lived in the building that is now used as the museum.

I was allowed to take photos when we toured the house, it is Victorian in style and the parlour featured this rather splendid stove - a woodburner I imagine though I don't know for sure.

This is one of the bedrooms which has walls decorated with what are apparently rather special 19th century murals by a man called John Avery. Frankly I find it rather dark and gloomy and think it spoils what is other wise rather a nice room. I'm afraid the angle is rather odd but the rooms were small and it was hard to get a good picture.

My favourite room in the whole house - the screened in summer sleeping porch.

Isn't this refrigerator fantastic? The tin lined cupboard was filled with ice which was what kept everything cold. Apparently the ice man delivered ice in the same way that the milkman delivered milk - I should think he had to make pretty frequent deliveries during the hot New England summers too!

Some of the farm buildings with Mount Chocorua in the background. It is named for a Native American chief of the Pequawket tribe who leapt to his death from the summit.

Tamworth itself is a really attractive small town surrounded by some pretty spectacular scenery, this is the church with its unusual pagoda-like spire. I'd have been happy to spend more time there wandering round and exploring - hopefully I'll have chance to visit again one day.

Another trip took us up into the White Mountains and eventually we began to see these signs along the road. I would love to see a moose, even though they are such large animals they strike me as being rather gentle looking. I'm hoping that on my next visit I'll get chance to visit 'Moose Alley' up on Rte 3 where apparently your chances of seeing a moose are very good indeed.

I have rather a thing about covered bridges so was thrilled to bits to see this one in North Conway over the Saco River.

A kind man seeing me with my camera told me how I could get down to the river and take a photo of the bridge and the river with just the beginnings of some autumn colour in the background.

At North Conway we turned off the main road onto the Kancamagus Highway which is a wonderful 34 mile scenic drive through the White Mountains. There are stopping places all the way along and this one is by the Swift River.

Smokey Bear is the mascot of the United States Forest Service and his job is to educate the public about the dangers of forest fires. He is based on a real black bear cub who was rescued after a severe forest fire in New Mexico in 1950.

What had been a nice sunny day had turned into something rather more threatening by this stage of the drive, you can see what we are driving into and as we climbed higher the temperature was dropping rapidly. It was down to 41F at the highest levels and I began to wonder if we were going to see snow rather than rain!

It was raining when we stopped at the Sugar Hill outlook but happily there was a shelter so I could take photos without getting too wet. I think we are seeing Green's Cliff and Mt Tremont.

The highest point of the drive and decidedly wet and cold by this stage. It was really beautiful in spite of the rain and must be wonderful when the Fall colour is at its peak. On the other hand, as it is one of the most scenic drives on the leafpeepers trail, I imagine it's pretty much bumper to bumper at the height of the colour so I think I'd rather settle for what I got.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rambling round Rye

I am finally managing a blog post of sorts, my body arrived back from the USA two weeks ago but my mind has only just joined it! I thought I'd start with a post about Rye as this is the small New Hampshire town where my friends live. It has the advantage of being on the tiny stretch of coast which New Hampshire possesses and is both pretty and historically interesting. It was the first place in New Hampshire to be settled in by Europeans when a man called William Berry set up home at Odiorne's Point in 1623. C, like me, is keen on history and is a member of the local historical society. They have a small but interesting museum which we went to see on my first day.

The area did, of course, have people living there long before any Europeans arrived on the scene. This illustration shows members of the local Native American tribe - they are the Abenaki whose name means 'people of the dawn' in the Algonquin language.

You will need to click on the photo to be able to read this lovely description of Abenaki life before the advent of the white man, I find the final words very sad - regrettably sharing wasn't on the agenda as far as the new settlers were concerned.

These are arrow heads found in the local area, they are from various time periods and the Abenaki would have used both bows and arrows and spears to do their hunting. I was really pleased to find that the local museum had several displays about the Abenaki rather than assuming that the history of Rye only began when Europeans arrived.

This chest was owned by John Langdon Seavey who was born in 1793. It contains a blanket issued to his father,William Seavey,who was a member of Capt. J Parsons Voluntary Company of Rye during the American War of Independence.

An old handmade,wooden lobster pot - so much more aesthetically pleasing than the plastic versions used today. Lobster boats still ply their trade off the coast of New Hampshire and fresh lobster is available in pretty well every restaurant. To the amazement of my seacoast friends I don't actually like lobster all that much. It's extremely messy to eat and involves a great deal of hard work for not very much reward as far as I'm concerned :)

This is now a private house but in a former existence it was the Garland Tavern, My friend points it out every time I go and I have a feeling that it has some sort of claim to fame connected with the American War of Independence but I have absolutely no clue what and I may well have imagined it - it sounds good though doesn't it?

My friends aren't able to do much walking so each morning, with the aid of a little map of Rye, I did 2 or 3 miles around the town so that I got some of the exercise that I'm used to having. As I walked I took photographs of buildings and scenes that attracted my eye. This display was in a local garden shop and gave me pleasure every time I saw it.

The Jonathan Locke House dating back to 1838, Rye has many lovely old houses like this.

I passed this gorgeous tree every day either on foot or in the car. It was unusual in having its full Fall colour as New Hampshire is last on the list as the colour works its way down from Canada. This is my fourth attempt to catch the full display and, though it was the best I've seen up to now, I was still about 10 days too early for the full show.

These three little cuties are miniature donkeys and there are two more of them just out of sight. They have a lovely paddock attached to their stable and live a life of donkey luxury! Over the many years I've been going to Rye I've got to know many of C's friends, the donkeys belong to M and I always try and see them when I visit.

The same friends own a house at the beach and this is the view from the terrace - I never need a second invitation to spend time here.

Another tree beginning to get into its stride, the colours intensified noticeably during the time I was there.

C insisted on taking this photo of me! Every year a local church has a huge sale of gourds and pumpkins as a fundraiser. There's a stand selling homemade bread, cakes and pies too - I bought a pumpkin pie and it was very good indeed.

These are the large pumpkins which people use for general autumn decorations as well as for Halloween.

I loved this display inside the marquee - all the colours and shapes of the gourds and pumpkins really appeal to me. I wish they were available in these quantities in the UK.

Rye is still a very rural place, these fields are at the bottom of the road where C & H live and they belong to R, another of their friends who will be appearing again in a later post.

Another of the lovely New England clapboard houses - originally an old farmhouse but now done up and no longer a farm.

This is a gate made by C and H and sitting at the back of their house in the fence which marks the territory of their dog. I love it, it's so quirky and totally unique.

Finally, another thing that is unique in Rye - when I am in residence, the Union Jack flies once more on American soil!