Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Photos taken around 8 a.m., looking south with the Davis burial ground to the far right. Jan. 2, 2008. If you have GPS you can plot this location precisely from a satellite in the sky.


Last year I was in Texas on Christmas and New Year's, so this year in New Hampshire was different. I find how much more traveling one can do in New England than even in Texas. When there was a visit to be done in Texas, it might be from 3-6 hours driving, one way. Turning most day trips into 2 day trips. And gradually eliminating them from consideration, so one could stay home longer. Up here in New Hampshire, a state with the entire population of our metro area alone in Texas, a day trip has to receive more careful consideration. There are a lot of visits to make ranging from 1 1/2 hours driving one way, to 5 hours driving one way. There's even one very important visit (our son) who could be reached by driving 6 hours each way-- straight into Manhattan, where's there's no parking.
You get the picture. A different matrix for visits.
Two of those potential visits dropped out of consideration this holiday season. Predictably, it was the two longest ones, 5 hours to Roxbury, NY and 6 hours to Manhattan. There were other visits of the 1 1/2 to 3 hour variety.
On New Year's Eve day a spontaneous dinner date was arranged over in Dublin, NH about 20 miles from the Vermont border. We made some brownies to bring, packed some champagne and drove from the farm near Dover along Rt. 125 south and 101 west. Driving from the seacoast "microclimate" to the Monadnock area "microclimate" was a visual feast of clouds, mist and whiteness in varying shades, punctuated by intersecting the "Queen City" of Manchester, NH.
New Year's Eve found us perusing an eccentric curator's collection of books, weapons, musical instruments, playing Booker T.'s "Hip Hug-ger" on vintage keyboards, watching Dick Clark drop the ball, and then listening to The Band and the Best of the Animals on CD. Driving back east, early the next morning, the clear Monadnock sky, peppered with clouds full of boding, gradually transformed itself into an ocean mist gleaming with sunrise. Beyond, the ocean might be 20 miles further to the east, but the effect causes this decidedly inland part of New Hampshire to exaggeratedly be called the "Seacoast" region. I think it also is part of "Southern New Hampshire," which looks a lot more like northern Massachusetts, except refreshingly sparser, than the rest of New Hampshire.
On the next day, in the middle of a dangerous blizzard, I ventured north to return a guitar to someone who had left it at the house over the holidays. About 55 miles up the Spaulding Turnpike from Rochester, the storm hit with a vengeance and, for quite awhile after that, traffic moved at 5 mph, wending around other cars which had run off the road, hit each other, or hot dogging just to see if they could pull out of a skid. I welcomed a chance to vigorously roadtest the 1995 Celica beater I was driving. This has been among the most reliable cars we have ever had, and the mileage economy has just encouraged more driving. But, I had never put it through the paces that the Spaulding presented during this terrible snowstorm, which, as it approached the "Seacoast" area, added rain to the mix and caused brakes and windshields to ice over. Having made it through that, with roads barely treated in the respective jurisdictions along the road, I wouldn't hesitate to take out the low-slung, standard transmission, mostly fiberglas Celica again. It's a real trouper. The guitar is back to its home and so am I.
If you drive in New Hampshire during this type of weather, do not expect clear sailing on the roads. Each driver must work together with the other drivers so that everybody gets where they are going. I did have moments when I thought the miles-long line of cars might be spending the night on the Spaulding. Congratulations to the powers that be, for making sure things keep moving!
Top viewing over the holiday season included Ghost Dog, Jim Jarmusch, Forrest Whitaker, etc.; Coffee and Cigarettes, also Jim Jarmusch; the Werner Herzog film about Tim Treadwell; the "mockumentary" of the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. And just yesterday, "Legally Blonde" with Reese Witherspoon. A good dose of samurai and stardust was the fitter counterpoint to this state full of retail campaigners this week. It is so comforting to be debating the fate of the free world. We never got to do that much in Texas. What did you do over that strange time when the calendar changes but Christendom stops dead in its tracks?

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