Tag Archives: new england

True Yankee

Up the hill to Harrisville, down the hill to Peterborough, take in the beautiful autumn landscape of Southwestern New Hampshire. The views paint oils from gold to crimson over the rolling hills of Dublin, sandwiched in between. Another layer of serendipity added to an autumn excursion in this quiet town of literary New England history.

In the shadows of Mount Monadnock, after shopping the yarn mill in Harrisville, we discover this Cheshire county village as we continue to leaf peep in mid-October. The leaves on the tips of the trees have fallen away but those that remain reveal a beautiful canvas. We fall into the center of town and country life pauses to appreciate the culture of a modest red building across from the Dublin Town Hall, noting an establishment of 1882. The seasonal drive in this Region reveals the Northern home of Yankee Magazine. Alongside the parking lot is that of Yankee Publishing, also turning a personal page into the Old Farmers Almanac. Nothing could Robb one from stopping to take in the editorial air and photo opportunity. Surreal to be upon a setting that has transported millions to so many other New England travel experiences.

Saturday ambiance abundant with the people of Dublin at the General Store, just up the road. The first to greet is a 6’ wooden cigar Indian. His doorway reveals the perfect blend of history, antiques and modern deli.

Salads and delectable foods flicker behind glass under the light of an antique punching bag.

Fresh fruit beams from another display near a hanging vintage scale. Well past thirsty and hunting a beverage, coolers appropriately locate near an old metal lifesaver display.

Historical charm decorates the store as locals arrive for their staples or a bite to eat, under the watchful eye of a mounted deer, humored by the sweatband around his head.

Beyond the still dial-up checkout, to have survived the recent power outage, is a seating area at the front of the store. Makeshift tables with cast iron sewing machine bases and old desktops await. The outdoors continues to beckon, dining near the long-paned period windows.

Nice conversation is had by local area schoolteachers, as warned by the nearby mounted phone with a sign stating “Be nice or leave”.

Leaving is not an option with chicken breast of apple and Brie and zesty macaroni and cheese. The comforts of home abound amongst memorable time spent and ambiance of days gone by, nudging us, reminding us that old Yanks are here too.

Departure is bittersweet as the afternoon is lived like the exploring pages of Yankee Magazine. Like any solid Yankee town, farewells include a bid to have a good day under the watchful eye of an Indian. Crisp fall air meets warm bellies, continuing South to a festival in Peterborough and Yankee homes in central Massachusetts where cherished issues of a local magazine await. ‘Twas a day of outdoor magical theatre, so let it be written.

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Betrayed

Late Sunday morning my husband returned from taking his mother out to breakfast. With the day promising 80’s sunshine in mid-September, Richie said he’d be outside. He saw my heart was elsewhere, “I’ll be out in a bit. I’m writing.” He knows me too well, recognized that was an indeterminate amount of time, and took advantage of the situation. When I finally went out on the deck, I felt betrayed by him, her…and a fellow writer:

To do list

My life changed after using the last Q-tip Monday night. Sincerely. I planned to pick up a new box on Tuesday once I finished at the library. The pharmacy was right next door but I managed to forget. On Wednesday, I didn’t think about the Q-tips until I climbed out of the shower that night. Frustrated I muttered, “Oh God! …Let me remember cotton swabs next time I’m out?!” I put on my pajamas and wrote ‘Qtips’ on our refrigerator shopping list.

Thursday was my birthday, so my focus was certainly not on Q-tips or any other kind of cotton swab. I readied for work, caught the train to Boston and bought munchkins for our office. Nobody knew it was my birthday and the morning went by slowly. At noon, I decided to stretch my legs, get some fresh air and take a walk.

The tourists were on the Freedom Trail and the office workers were sitting down to cafe lunches or walking back to buildings with their to-go sacks. I walked with a fast stride, smelled the aromas and listened to the sounds of the city. I watched all the people but saw the homeless. How hard is it for them to watch the feeding frenzy?

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The rest of the story that follows is not an event I would typically discuss; moments that happen in my Christian life are between myself and God. However, I feel obligated to spread these special words because I think God works in mysterious and beautiful ways.

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I passed many storefronts at a quick pace.

Until I didn’t.

My stride slowed and uncontrollably stopped. I was suddenly standing in front of a very crippled man in his wheelchair. The sensation didn’t scare me and I was not afraid to be with this helpless person. I wanted to assist but didn’t know how. I do know not to give money in the streets. There is a shrine, a soup kitchen and a shelter nearby.

I found myself saying words i hadn’t even formed in my mind yet:

“What can I help you with today?”, as I bent over his chair.

His response was slow, labored and garbled. I didn’t understand anything that he was straining so hard to express.

My soul bled for him as I looked to his hands for some aided expression.

They were twisted and fist-like with long, dirty nails.

They grabbed my heart.

“I am sorry, tell me again.”, now I had to know.

He tried once more, working hard to form lips and sound.

I turned my ear toward him and thought I heard words.

Trying to match a food with what I thought I heard, I questioned, “Chips?! You want potato chips?” I turned back to face him, hoping to see acknowledgement in his eyes.

They were covered with black sunglasses; it was a beautiful sunny day.

Don’t let me give up, I thought. This is my fellow human being. He turned his head, left and right and then directly at me.

A definite but pleading “No.” registered in his mouth and my ears.

I had his lunch request all wrong, didn’t know what else to do, and then, at that very defeated moment, I heard his continued mumble as clear as a foggy day.

He spoke more slowly. “No, Q-tips.” and low but distinct, “I need Q-tips.”

I froze. In elation. For so many reasons.

“Of course. You know what?”, I was so happy and continued, “I need Q-tips too. I’ll buy some for both of us.”

It was as easy as the nearby CVS and the cosmetics aisle. I was overjoyed that I’d waited to understand. Coming together may have been God’s plan all along? My spiritual life changed because remembering new Q-tips helped me not to hear, but to see, in a whole new way.

Happy Birthday to me.

Thanks Yanks

Here in New England, when the gardens start to overflow, is one of my favorite times of the year. Relatives share their food before it spoils, neighbors leave treats at the door and country roads have home grown garden centers. Beautiful green zucchini for bread, yellow squash for stir fry and beautiful red tomatoes for spaghetti sauce. It doesn’t matter how much they weigh, frugal yanks all across the county are charging ‘two for a dollah’. Our money goes far during the ‘Honor System’ self check-out season. I can’t wait to taste the wonderful meals these beautiful, affordable, local, fresh vegetables will make…

I just need a little help from a friend. “Hon! Richie!? Look what I found doing errands today…!” This time of year my love grows by leaps and bounds.