My pleasant and accommodating hosts for this week — friends of my friend Lida — are an intriguing pair. They are heritage preservationists and organizational development consultants, work for themselves, and are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They live in a rambling house on a hill above Harrisville, New Hampshire, the kind of house that has a kitchen with a large island surrounded by comfortable bar stools with backs. Their view of the foliage is unparalleled, probably in the world.
They have a passion for their choosen community, and were able, in a short 10 minutes, to convey to me the roots of that passion. To summarize: Harrisville, a former mill town — some say the most beautiful village in America — is remaking itself as a place where people — many different types of people — want to live. It has decided not to prostitute itself at the alter of tourism (which would be easy, given its beauty, its location, and the collection of ready-to-boutique-ify mill buildings), but rather to build on its natural qualities, its compact size, and the collegiality of its residents. The mill buildings will be renovated into offices, small businesses, studios, workshops, not Ye Olde Fudge Shoppes.
Harrisville had a town dinner last summer: to buy a ticket, you had to live in Harrisville. They had 400 people sitting at tables running the length of Main St., which was closed for the occassion. Can you imagine the tourism-addled City of Charlottetown ever holding an event where no tourists were invited or desired? Amazing.
I have come to truly understand the meaning of the work peak this weekend, by observing its usage on the ground. Peak, when applied to foliage, describes some sort of optimal, heavenly quality of leaf colour, reached only momentarily. It involves some sort of undescribable shade of red. Apparently it’s not yet peak here in Dublin nor Harrisville yet, but it will be soon. Either that, or we’re going to skip right over peak, the after-stage of which, I believe, is either “grey” or “falling off the trees.” I’ll let you know what happens.
In the meantime, I’m busily copying and pasting and shovelling data from city to city to ready the servers that power Yankee’s operations to a new ISP. It’s going well, so far, and if the trend continues, I might even be able to take a little time off tonight. To see the leaves. In the dark. Probably peaking, invisibily, before my eyes.
I noticed today a blaze orange maple in my yard, even on this gloomy, grey, drizzly Thanksgiving Munday it’s flourescent.
Your story leaves me wondering how people as you describe ever manage to survive into adulthood. The world we seem to be living in is so full of glowing objects from behind which stab the steel arms of indifference and profit, that I wouldn’t have expected to find so many living in one place. God bless them, we’ll put them all on the first secure planet we find. Maybe they’ll help us secure this one somehow.