I have lived in the same house in the Monadnock Region since I finished training about 35 years ago. I have enjoyed caring for the people of this community, but recently I've moved away from medicine to a more serious involvement with photography, and have increasingly come to value the beauty of this under-appreciated corner of New England. The Monadnock Region and southeastern Vermont don't have the highest mountains, or the largest tracks of wilderness, so what is it about this area that keeps me busy finding new and exciting things to photograph. All regions of New England have their own feel and unique attractions as well as many qualities which are shared throughout our special corner of the country. What follows is a very personal and admittedly self-indulgent love letter to the region I have come to feel is my own.
What is Special About Monadnock?
Close to Home
|Hubner Farm, Chesterfield, NH|
|Stonewall Farm, Keene, NH|
|Nestled, Spofford Village , NH|
For every photographer a major attraction of their local environment should be that it IS local, nearby and familiar.
Farms, Barns and Produce
Every rural region of New England has great farms and I have come to appreciate a few near home. Roads End Farm, Hubner Farm and Stonewall farm are just a few favorites, but apart from active farms there are beautiful barns, farm houses and farming implements generously scattered throughout the region. Many structures are lovingly maintained but those that show the effects of years of exposure to our challenging environment have their own special of history and stubborn endurance.
|Walker Farm, Dummerston, Vt|
Good Eats and Pics
Wherever there are farms there must be produce and, especially in the late summer and fall our region explodes with the wonderful fruits of the land. Delicious and more than just incidentally, great to photograph.
Keene's Central Square
Keene is famous for its wide Main Street and quintessential town square. At the head of Main Street, among stately trees, you will find a circular common with a traditional gazebo and fountain. The square is topped by a towering white steepled church and the whole display is guarded by a classic Civil War Memorial gazing protectively into the center of town. Central Square is beautiful any time of year, but for just a few days each spring the common bursts into bloom. For more than a decade I have recorded this event and during that time I have noted that the "bloom" has, on average, moved about two weeks earlier. Global warming IS real!
|Hancock Meeting House|
It is increasingly difficult to find dark sky to allow the observation of the wonders of the cosmos. The Monadnock region has its share of light pollution but it is still possible to find areas that offer reasonable views to the night sky. The key is to travel far enough away from the "metropolis'" of Keene and Brattleboro. I usually head north to Walpole and beyond in an attempt to escape the glow of humanity. Sadly we don't have the endless expanse of lightless ocean that my friends on the coast can use, but in addition to the dark, the other major requirement for dramatic night sky photography is interesting foregrounds, and that we have in abundance.
Waterfalls and Stream
I have to admit that I remain a sucker for the soft, cotton candy appearance of flowing water caught in long exposure. I continue to search for nearby waterfalls and streams. Chesterfield Gorge, Pulpit Falls, Catsbane Falls, and Garwin Falls are just a few of the more famous. Happily my region seems to have an endless supply of flowing water and it is a major attraction especially during the vigorous spring run-off
|Spoffo0rd Lake Summer|
I live just a short walk from one of our regions best lakes. I've shot Spofford Lake in all seasons and varieties of weather, but it is just one of many beautiful bodies of water, ranging from developed lakes to small pristine ponds.
|Green River Bridge, Guilford, Vt|
|Spofford the Moose|
I am primarily a landscape photographer but the wonderful beauty and variety of wildlife is unavoidable as the inconsiderate creatures wander into my compositions. Remarkably, these days I occasionally go out with the intention of stalking the Eagles on the Connecticut River or the graceful Blue Heron on Harvey Pond. I also have my window seat positioned to catch the many song birds at my feeder. The secret is to be ready for the wildlife opportunities as they periodically arise.
|Pumpkin Festival Volunteers|
New England country folk are famous for there reticence toward strangers, never rude, but always a bit cautious. I have lived in Spofford for over thirty five years and although still far from being considered a "native", I hope I am at least a little less "strange".
One of the great traditions of small town New England is the
|Tom Above Indian Pond|
The traditional Abenaki word for a mountain that stands alone, towering above its surroundings, is "monadnock" and mountain from which our region gets its name fits this description. Mount Monadnock is OUR mountain. Its bare rocky peak stand at least 1000 feet above any mountain within 30 miles and towers 2000 feet above the surrounding plane. To our community the mountain is much more than a landmark. In a surprising sense it defines us and people take their relationship with the mountain very personally. It is why so many have worked to protect the peak from the constant pressures for development.
The Mount Monadnock is one of the most climbed peaks in the country but in more than 30 years I have only climbed to the summit about five times. As a photographer, the real attraction of Monadnock is its many faces and moods in the full range of light and weather. All this is can only be fully appreciated from the bottom, looking up.
Henry David Thoreau probably said it best :
"Those who climb to the peak of Monadnock have seen but little of the mountain. I came not to look off from it, but to look at it. The view of the pinnacle itself from the plateau below surpasses any view which you get from the summit. It is indispensable to see the top itself and the sierra of its outline from one side.... It is remarkable what haste the visitors make to get to the top of the mountain and then look away from it."
On the day I decided to take my landscape photography seriously, my first step was to spend a day circling Monadnock. I was amazed at how the mountain changed when seen from different directions and, years later, I continue to find fresh perspectives gazing up to my mountain.
|Infrared Mt Monadnock|
Well, enough gushing. I still love the fresh inspiration obtained from traveling throughout New England and the world, but I will always be called back to my Monadnock Region. Now if you could only move the ocean over to our side of the state, everything would be completely perfect!