Wising up

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Rosehips on Mt. Agamenticus

Bone dry weather, beautiful but the pond level is very low, the grass tawny and plants wilting. A cool front went through today without rain. We are poised at September’s edge. Green will age to gold, or catch red fire. The crows’ cracked voices are a dry song and the crickets play fiddles in the night.

I feel kind to the things that are only alive for the season, like the lightning bug I rescued from the kitchen sink today and took outside on a piece of paper. Then the cat and I watched it walk along the wooden porch railing on six black legs slender as eyelashes.

John took Laura to have her wisdom teeth removed this morning. It’s a day off from school, so with Labor Day a four-day weekend. I cleaned her room while they were gone, believing that healing is quicker without dust and clutter. She came home confused, incoherent, spastic-gaited, laugh-crying and bloody-mouthed.

“The laughing gas smelled like oranges,” she said. “I don’t remember anything.”

We changed lots of gauze. The twin ice packs are inside little pockets in a white strap-on band that goes under her chin and over her head and is chipmunky at the cheeks.

A couple of her friends and their moms came by for a visit, cheery with a chocolate milkshake and magazine. She showed them her stubby teeth inside a plastic package, two whole and two in pieces. C remembered bringing her son home after his wisdom tooth extraction a few years ago. He is a large, quiet, athletic kid, a baseball player at Yale now. He leaned out the window of the car and sang all the way home.

Anna is almost finished packing for college. Tomorrow is the day. Our livingroom is chockablock with boxes and bags. We parents reminisce about our own college move-in days, when we walked to school barefoot uphill through snow with a tattered rucksack slung over one shoulder and a fierce thirst for beer, I mean knowledge.

Wisdom remembers. Happiness forgets.
– Mason Cooley

Flutter by

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Butterfly at the top of Mount Agamenticus today. Went for a walk there with my sister Lauren, daughter Anna and dogs Eddie and Zeus. A little hazy but still some views to the ocean on one side and mountains on the other.

It is beautiful today – sunny and 80˚ with a south wind rustling dry green gold leaves. John just got back from Manchester UK, where it was in the 50’s and people wore down vests.

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I finished and sent a Sunday travel piece this morning about our Canada drive. Something short for NH Mag on a corn maze and Halloween haunt shipped Monday. Got a call in to start another story for the local paper and I’m a week behind on Small Pond.

Back to school is all the rage around here. Laura started high school yesterday (the day after her first soccer game) and we move Anna to UNH on Saturday. Shopping is nearly complete.

Feeling like a slacker blogger, not much to say, so here ya go, pretty pictures.

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I think this bug has a face.

Health, south wind, books, old trees, a boat, a friend.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

This car climbed Mount Washington

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On Friday early afternoon, it was 85˚ and sunny in the valley. On the summit of Mount Washington, a relatively balmy 55˚, socked in, with 45 mile an hour winds.

This is a wide part of the road.

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It’s official: I’m a flatlander. I was mildly terrified driving 6,000 plus feet up the 8-mile Mount Washington Auto Road. My hands were sweating and glue gripped onto the steering wheel of my sister’s Subaru Impreza.

At the bottom we had forked over $20 for the car and $7 for the non-driving passenger (no charge for the dog) and got a complimentary CD about the auto road and a packet with a certificate of achievement. It was sort of hokey.

My sister said, “This is dumb. It’s cheating to drive up Mount Washington. Let’s get out and walk.”

I said, “C’mon, I’ve always wanted to. And then you can get the bumper sticker.”

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It was a humbling experience to drive up and up a road with no guard rails, nauseatingly steep drop offs, paved and unpaved surfaces and “great scenic beauty which can be distracting to the drivers and other vehicle occupants,” and “other hazards known and unknown.”

At the top we were quite simply inside a cloud.

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One of our favorite New Hampshire facts. Bow before the awesome power of Nature, puny mortals.

Down

I bought souvenir postcards and a shot glass that read, “Mount Washington Auto Road” then followed my sister back down to the parking lot.

She had just taught me that you can amplify the signal to lock or unlock your car from far away by holding the keys pressed up underneath your chin.

“Your head acts like an antenna,” she said.

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Lauren drove down the mountain, while I took pictures and deep breaths. We listened to classical music.

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In some spots, we speculated, though the drop looked steep, you probably wouldn’t roll all the way down the mountain.

At the bottom I had this weird feeling like I wanted to do it again.

Mount Washington Auto Road
Mount Washington Observatory

Say ‘fromage’

Vaches

These are some cows that gave some milk that was made into cheese that we tasted and bought, all at a fromagerie in Quebec.

First came the apples. Next there was wine. And gourmet hot dogs. Then came lunch (pot au feu and deer sausages with blueberries) and a walk in old Montreal. Then we found cheese, and ice cider. (This is over the course of several days.)

There are hundreds of kinds of cheese made in Quebec. I think they eat it all up and don’t share it with the rest of the world, so you have to go there to get some.

“We are passionate about cheese,” said Stephan the cheesemaker at the Fromagerie Au Gre des Champs in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, where these cows have a happy life of eating hay and grass and specially planted herbs and flowers that flavor the artisanal cheese.

We tasted four kinds, aged different lengths of times, including a soft, fresh cheese called Ni Pier available only every Thursday. I was crazy about the Ni Pier. It was smooth and creamy and buttery sweet and spreadable. I probably ate too much that night when we camped out in a crappy motel in Sherbrooke (the only non-charming place in the Eastern Townships) with wine, cheese and apples for dinner.

On the Quebec cheese trail

We’re back home now. More adventures to be shared soon, including Nobody Told Me the Mt. Washington Auto Road Was So Scary.

. . .

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Me being dramatic (again) in a vineyard at Carmela Estates Winery in the lush hills of Ontario. A votre santé!

Taste

The place to taste wine at Chadsey’s Cairns. It used to store apples.

Lauren

Quel belle soeur. Gamay in hand, she says, “The reds are nervy.”

Map of the region’s soils is behind her.

The other Big Apple

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World’s Largest Apple and me, Colbourne, Ontario

You can go inside this apple and wend your way around and up, like a worm, to the top where there is an observation deck with a view of Highway 401, local apple orchards, a petting farm with disheveled sheep and llamas and engaging goats, and Lake Ontario.

My cross-country-drivin’ sister Lauren picked me up at the airport in Toronto on Tuesday. We have spent most of our time on Highway 2, the King’s Highway, heading east along the northern side of the lake. We’ve visited pretty little downtowns and pleasant lakeside provincial parks.

Who knew this region was speckled with wineries! We were on The Taste Trail. This was our favorite: Chadsey’s Cairns. We sampled reislings, gamays and a minerally chenin blanc, then stopped for lunch in Picton at the famously delicious gourmet “genius” Buddha Dog. I believe it takes it’s name from the old joke.

What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?

Make me one with everything.

For a late dinner last night in our Travelodge in Brockville, near the St. Lawrence, we have really good cheese and crackers, raisins, apples and a bottle of locally grown and bottled cabernet. We watched TV in different languages.

On Tuesday we slept in the no frills Lotus Motel in Cobourg, as there is a dog (Eddie) among us. At the crack of dawn there was much revving of engines and banging of coolers as men from the rooms around us prepared to depart. In the dim light without the frills of a bedside clock we asked each other, “What time is it?” And decided to keep track of time in a simpler, older way, appropriate to our relaxed itinerary-free roadtrip.

“It is Men Going Fishing Time.”

Sadly, we forgot to look for the World’s Largest Muskie and have already passed through Gananoque.

Just peachy

Peaches

My sister Ann juggles peaches at our local orchard

Night temperatures have been taking a tumble fast to autumn. Bittersweet, beautiful, bounteous season.

Yesterday in the Union Leader…

NH farmers savor bumper harvest

Farmers’ markets around the state are now ablaze in color: beefsteak tomatoes, orange carrots, organic greens, blueberries and yellow onions, corn and squash.

Heading into the final weeks of August, farmers are reporting a bumper crop thanks to a strong early growing season, hard work and a little luck.

Our own garden has inspired this salad a lot lately: chunks of tomatoes and cucumbers with salt, pepper, oil and vinegar, “and basil if I’m not too lazy,” says John.

Sunflowers are blazing and charismatic. Dragonflies make aerial warfare on other bugs and playfully on each other.

In other local news, this is kind of weird and cool: University of New Hampshire will power its campus with renewable landfill gas from the Turnkey Recycling and Environmental Enterprise facility owned by Waste Management

I’m off to Toronto today! Must shower, pack and round up the Canadian currency from the change jars and drawers.

Aviation legacy at Pease

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USAF F-16 Falcon and Korean War-era F-86 Sabre

In today’s Portsmouth Herald…

Air extravaganza at Pease
Wings show draws 200,000 over two days

By Amy Kane

The 60th anniversary celebration of the Air Force was an occasion for Legacy and Heritage flights at the Pease Air Show this weekend, matching vintage warplanes with state-of-the-art fighter jets in formation flying that contrasted the old with the new.

Nearly 200,000 people attended the air show this weekend, according to organizers. Proceeds will benefit charitable organizations represented by the Wings of Hope Foundation, including the Brain Injury Association of NH.

Exhibitions of speed, grace and daring came at 15-minute intervals from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, and included an Army jump team, a flyover of World War II aircraft, daredevil aerobatics, and the afterburner roar of fighter jets that drew visitors’ gazes to the sky.

For some air show participants, like F/A-18 pilot Lt. Thomas “Natty” Clark, a New Hampshire native stationed now in Virginia Beach, the air show was a brief homecoming.

After a demonstration of “turning and burning,” pulling up to 7.6 Gs in a variety of aerial maneuvers, then formation flying with an antique F4U Corsair piloted by Dan McCue of York Beach, Lt. Clark met up with family and friends who had traveled from his hometown of Bedford.

Lt. Clark, stationed at NAS Oceana, has flown several air shows this summer in the upper Midwest. When he heard about the Pease air show, he was excited for the chance to get back to New England. He was impressed with the Wings of Hope charity as well, he said.

The air show was a mini-reunion with the past for Robert McNally of Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

“It brings back a lot of memories,” said McNally, 81, after a visit inside the vintage B-25.

McNally served as a crew member aboard the twin-engine bomber in World War II. This experience got the veteran invited out onto the “hot line” for a special VIP tour of “Miss Hap,” the oldest B-25 in the world still flying.

McNally is a lifetime member of the VFW. He carries another, rarer card in his wallet as well: he is a Veteran of Underage Military Service, having joined up as a 15-year-old from Worcester, Mass., just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

On the flight line, McNally met Jim Vocell, who was flying the B-25. Vocell is a 767 captain for US Airways living in Atkinson, New Hampshire who volunteers his time as chief pilot at the nonprofit American Airpower Museum in New York, where the “Miss Hap” is kept.

The B-25 was named for Henry “Hap” Arnold, Commanding General of the Army Air Force in World War II. Arnold, a pioneer of military aviation who learned to fly from the Wright brothers, was instrumental in the creation of the Air Force in 1947 as a separate branch of the military.

Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air National Guard and the Canadian Air Force were part of the “combined ops” at the Pease Air Show. Pease operators Port City Air and Pan Am were also part of the air show team.

Though the Pease Air Force base closed in 1991, the 157th Air Refueling Wing of the New Hampshire Air National Guard has been working there since.

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McNally poses for the guys from Air Force News with Miss Hap, a B-25 Mitchell built in 1940

60th Anniversary USAF: Heritage to Horizons… Commemorating 60 years of Air and Space Power

Navy F-18 air show video

F-16 low level action… Scandinavia?

F-18 Magic Carpet Ride