Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Learning to Dance in the Rain

So I've been sidelined with a back problem (again), which has me applying ice packs, waiting it out, and hoping I'll be able to kayak or bike a few more times before the snow flies. But then I stumbled across this quote and it got me thinking about ways to enjoy the outdoors, no matter what: "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain."

Granted, having back problems is a tiny storm in the big scheme of things and I'm usually not one to wallow. But I guess I was temporarily stuck in the "I wanna" mode, as in, "I wanna kayak."

Sunday I decided to get unstuck, so we got in the car and headed to the town of Jaffrey just to explore. My inspiration for this little side trip was an article about the Monadnock region in New Hampshire magazine. They pointed out some landmarks in Jaffrey that we'd driven by many times on our way to Gilmore Pond, but had never stopped to notice.

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First off, there's a river that runs on the west side of Main Street. Could it be the Contoocook or is it the Ashuelot? I couldn't find the answer, so please clue me in if you know. Below that is a reflection of the Meeting House (built in 1775) in the window of the Little Red School House. These buildings are both located in Jaffrey Center, the historic area just west of downtown.

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Also in Jaffrey Center, the Old Burial Ground -- eerie even in the daylight -- is the final resting place for Amos Fortune, an African prince who was brought to America as a slave in the 1700s. He bought his freedom, moved to Jaffrey, and became a prominent businessman. Also buried here is Pulitzer-prize winning author Willa Cather. (Pay attention, class, there's going to be a quiz at the end!)

I was captivated by Cather's books as a kid, including My Antonia! and Oh Pioneer! I knew she was from the Midwest -- Nebraska, to be exact; so it seemed odd to learn she's buried here. But I found out she spent summers writing her books in Jaffrey, in a tent at the base of Mount Monadnock. I didn't get a good picture, but her headstone has pens and pencils that visitors have left behind.

So there you have it. A brief photo tour of Jaffrey, a lively, welcoming little town in the southwestern corner of the state. Almost forgot to mention, the Main Street was lined with so many scarecrows they looked like spectators lining a parade route. Sometimes dancing in the rain can be fun!


Anonymous said...

I beleive that the river in the center of Jaffrey is the Contocook because it comes from Contocook Lake. I am hoping to kayak from the lake to the center sometime in the spring. Doesn't seem wise to do it sooner since the one portage that I know of is difficult. FYI starting at the lake and taking the same route towards the center of Jaffrey if you turn left after protaging the dam you come to a stone bridge on 202 with a dam directly behind it. It is a fun discovery and makes really amazing pictures.

Lucie said...

Thanks for writing. My guess is that it's the Contoocook River, tto, but I'm surprised I haven't been able to find the answer.

Thanks for the info on Contoocook Lake and the dam with photo opportunities. Need to look that one up on the map and possibly add it to my list.