Layers of Loveliness #SmallTown

We searched for our Christmas tree early this year, going to our usual farm high above Bow Lake, only to find it reaching the end of its glorious life.  We found a blue spruce: sparse, but tall and healthy. Yet, we decided we needed to keep looking.

That following week, the week after Thanksgiving, I drove through nearby New Hampshire towns, hoping I might find a traditional Balsam Fir.  I followed signs–flat green cut-outs of trees–to Walker’s Green Trees in Madbury, NH.  Turning onto Perkins Road, I passed a farm house and then a field of pine trees spread before me.

Walker’s Tree Farm

I pulled into the driveway and parked next to the only other car, which I figured belonged to the owner of the farm. For a half hour, I wandered undisturbed through the trees, seeing two Balsams over there perfect for our home, five over here, another far across a soon-to-be-planted field. Signs warned to step carefully over fox holes. The smell of pine, the bristle of branches against my hand, the warm sunshine, all filled me with a sense of tranquility.

As I returned to my car, knowing this was where we’d find our tree, a woman stepped from the house and introduced herself as Melissa Walker. She shared how she and her husband, Ian, had decided years ago, rather than sell their farmland, to transform it from the working farm it had been, to a Christmas tree farm. Every year in the spring, friends and family devote a weekend to planting new saplings, an event so enjoyed, it has been documented in other blogs through the years. When her husband passed away several years back, his grandson, Ian, took over management of the farm, and now the tradition of tree planting and nurturing continues.

Then I commented on the sculptures in her driveway, the tall, stone-carved bird houses, and especially the lovely stone monument next to her barn. She said that Gary Haven Smith, of Northwood, NH, had been a student of her husband’s. She had commissioned him to create the monument in memory of her husband. Gary and her grandson, created this work of art together.

It was an honor to see work by this talented artist up close. Many years back, on a visit to the Glencliff Home for the Elderly, a nursing home sheltered by the White Mountains, I was awed by the chapel’s stained glass panels created by his wife, Susan Pratt-Smith.

This past October, Mr. Smith passed away, leaving behind a mourning community; Not just because he was a notable artist, but because he was a real neighbor: a friendly face in a small town, as is his wife and son.

I mention all of this, because it is the reason why I love this State of New Hampshire. Wherever I go, there are threads that connect all of us; circles filled with the people we care about, the people we remember, the people who make this State great.

That brisk December day, I went to purchase a Christmas tree, and instead was given an unforgettable moment in time.

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Posted in Good Neighbors, Volunteer, Nostalgia | Tagged , , ,

Poetry’s Sonnet

Tonight I was collaborating with former New Hampshire Poet Laureate, Marie Harris, to prepare for her upcoming Webinar about the Prose Poem (Monday at 7 PM–register through the NH Writers’ Project). We discussed various types of poems. She described the workings of a sonnet. That’s when I remembered this funny little poem written just for my personal enjoyment, which was first published on April 15, 2014.  I thought I’d re-post it in honor of new friendships and lasting poetry.

poetry

Poetry’s Sonnet

Shall poetry be no more a part of life?
When rhyming fairies sent childhood head to pillow?
When youthful scrawls of Milne and Masefield were rife
And poems of love and loss once held words to sow?

Though gray skies and flora called, my classroom subjects spurned,
But as surely as childhood slipped slow from its berth,
Teachers summoned me back and my lectures learned:
No more Dylan’s dying light; Say adieu to Wordsworth.

The poets, shelved and displayed throughout my home,
Like Wangero’s quilts, not for everyday use.1
But day leads to decade: creates life’s palindrome,
And now Khayyám lies open with old age’s excuse.

Notes and books filed too long in drawers oh so deep,
Shall bless my years’ journies, with Frost’s words of sleep.

By Barbara Rath Hoover (04/15/2015; rev 11/10/2017)

  1. Everyday Use, by Alice Walker

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Posted in Reading and Writing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Treesontreesontrees

Enjoyed this post from designer, Meg Hoover.

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Art by Meg Hoover

I know that a lot of my artwork features a bit of watercolor, but honestly aside from what I learned in high school art class, I pretty much developed my own techniques without any guidance. Architecture school really gave me great technical skills when it comes to pen and ink and perspective drawings, but I never really played with any other medium in my free time. So naturally, since I’ve started to really like incorporating a bit of color into my artwork, I find it necessary to actually learn the basics of watercolor.

Here’s the tutorial I used to learn the basics of drawing trees – I highly recommend it since it talks about a light source, how much water to use, and how to build up colors in order to develop the textures you want to achieve. After watching it, I realized that I’ve been using the wrong brushes…

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Posted in Inspiration

Fridays #FromTheDen

Crossing southern borders…

Monarch Butterfly

For more information about Friday’s #FromTheDen, here’s the original Drug-Infested-NH-Den post.

Addiction and suicide are serious issues.  If you’re in crisis, you can call the Suicide Hotline at 1800-273-8255. If a loved one is in trouble, NAMI, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Al-Anon Family Groups, are ready to offer help.

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Posted in Just for Fun | Tagged ,

An Innocuous Older in the Youngers’ Court

Grandparents, ~1930s

Grandparents, ~1930s

According to Ashton Applewhite in This Chair Rocks:A Manifesto Against Ageism, at 5:10 tonight, when I enter my writing class, I will be an “Older”.

Older is a relative term; not of bucket into which a person is placed. There are times–increasingly rare–when I might be considered a “Younger”. Tonight will not be one of those times. Tonight, I will be surrounded by Youngers.

In fact, I suspect I’ll be the oldest in the room, perhaps even surpassing my instructor. I will not ask. I don’t want to know. Because that is not what matters.

What matters is, at this older age, I’m returning to the classroom to be taught the fine art of fiction writing. I’ll put pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, and spew letters, words, and paragraphs, onto the page, hoping they bring insight, first to me, and then to my readers. Finally, I’ll wait for my generational peer, my professor, to place her mark upon my page.

I wonder, are the Youngers feeling this same trepidation? Are their hearts jammed against the base of their throat? Do the Youngers question their ability to form a coherent thought worth sharing? Do they wonder if they have any opinions at all?

For a woman who’s become expert at straddling the gray, seeing many sides of polarizing issues, and playing the peace-maker, the idea of creating characters who take a stand, speak out, and claim your attention, even for a moment, is intimidating.

Then I think of the novel, A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman. Ove’s character was beautifully annoying and abrasive. He was strong-willed, opinionated, and endearing. And I think, maybe, during this MFA program, I’ll create a character as memorable as Ove.

That’s why tonight, despite my nerves, this Older will join the Youngers, and start my journey to getting my Master of Fine Arts.

For those of you who have supported and encouraged me on this journey, thank you!

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Posted in Reading and Writing, Self Confidence | Tagged , , ,