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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Riding around New England Part Three...My Town.

Where would you like to go? Directions here, at the Birdhouse Swamp. How do you wish to go? Well, there is always your imagination. It will take you anywhere, and return you home with a
smooth landing when you get lonesome.

        Can't find your dream spot? Just make your self a sign.

When you are young, you want to get out of the old town and move on to the new. Alot of times, though, you find out you just need to go back.

Here you can free Tibet can just smile. Our ancesters came here the long way around. They sailed over from Europe, went to Michigan, and then came back to the east. Here to this little town that had already been here for a long, long time. And they stayed. Lots of them. Look in the phone book! They farmed, at first, in those long gone days. There is still a few farms around, gentleman farms mostly. Just folks that like to do it. Raise pigs. Milk cows. Work with horses. Make hay. Raise chickens. Raise families.

             Actually, no Native Americans ever lived here. They came here hunting and fishing. The Souhegan River, which starts here and flows down to the Nashua and then to the Sea, was named by the native americans. The name means waiting place. It was here that they stretched their nets across the river and waited for them to fill with fish. My children and I have also waited here on the river bank many a time, for fish. Lovely brook trout that cannot be beat for frying up and eating.  So when the first settlers came here from Massachusetts they were not bothered by Indians. Many of the surrounding towns had much trouble with them. But here they never had to build a stockade, fort or watch tower.
     Still looking pristine and wilderness like today. We swim here, put in our boats, kayaks, canoes, the wild goose makes her nest  here, the kingfisher and the heron show off their entirely different fishing skills. The moose stands back against the trees, the deer drink, and the bears, the foxes. The coyotes cry, lost and lonely in the foggy dusk and legend stills catches a fleeting glimpse of the panther.

      There's still wood piles all over my town. Nice straight ones, tumble jumble ones, some covered, some weathering the rain and the snow and the sun.You will see alot of saw rigs and splitters and tractors and wagons. There are even some comercial wood piles, great heaps to sell, and all the commercial equipment. Saw Mills, too that will saw your logs into boards for you.

    The mills were the first businesses in the town. Besides a sawmill, there was a grist mill and this town had the first woolen mill in the state and the first cotton mill. That Souhegan River was first rate for water power. There is still a running mill on the site of that first cotton mill. Its not the same building, but the same place. Generations of towns folk have worked there. Now they make the fabric for bullet proofing our finest among other things. Along with these mills, came the men who made the money. So many lovely old homes still line our streets, built by these innovative and resourceful people.
     The numbers on the lintels of the house are not house numbers. They are the year the house was built! The Appleton Manor was the home of the Appletons, mill builders, inventors, politicians. Henry Wadsworth Longfellows wife was Fanny Appleton, and President Franklin Pierce also married an Appleton lady, Jane. The Barett Mansion is open to the public, preserved for a glimpse into those long ago days. Built by the father of the Groom, furnished by the father of the Bride. A movie, The Europeans, was filmed here. amazing how they turned the town back in time while they were filming. Iron Horse Cowboy drove the trash truck at that time, so he was able to meet all the VIPs.  (He was not impressed.)
    Appleton Academy. (Also named and mostly funded by the Appletons.) The second academy in New Hampshire. It has been a school all these years, first chartered in 1789. At times a private school, but it was also the public school for a long time. It sits empty right now, because it needs to be brought up to "code". Any old timer can tell you a host of wonderful stories about those old days, when there was no codes! They actually make it sound like school was fun!
      There are still some dirt roads, in my town. lovely ones for leisurely rides to spot deer and wild turkeys and bears and a mother partridge herding her line of chicks. Yes, mostly people have four wheel drive vehicles, for mud in the spring and snow in the winter.  I like driving on them. You have to go slow, so you can feel the stillness. The hawk swoops and cries his harsh cry. the little birds sing, and twitter. The sunlight falls through the trees,splashing the forest floor with gold.You will spy a golden rock, a golden fern, a golden fallen leaf, on a dirt road in my town.
 These roads have been here all along, too. They have been here for ox carts, and horses, and the marching feet of the Revoltionary  soldiers, and the  civil War soldiers and they have been here for the horseless carriages and now for our SUVs.What stories they could tell if we would only stop to listen! The farm where the colonials would go to Muster is still here. Musterfield Farm, the name on lintel says. The roof has a little bit of a sag and the huge old oak tree still shades the door.

Now we have three huge schools. We have a resturant, a couple stores, some garages, a couple pizza shops,  a gourmet coffee shop, a junk yard, antique shops, gas station, churches..everything one needs to get along in todays world. Todays world would not be here without yesterday. We need to have yesterdays memories to make our town better for tomorrow.We need the oldtimers with their stories and their legends. We need the old remnants to make the new pieces of the world.

Hobbit house? Gnome house? Troll abode? Being of scandinavian descent I favor the trolls. The kids think hobbit. I've only seen an old toad here, sunning himself, But the ferns rustle. The trees whisper. The rain patters on a fall day. The snow hides the doorway in the winter. My town. Come explore it with me. You will be glad you did!

And in honor of my Finnish ancestors, "Tervetuloa".