The Granite Lake Village District (GLVD) will begin the annual 24-inch winter drawdown on Friday, October 8. This allows the lake to accumulate run-off over the winter and spring, mitigating flooding further downstream. If you have any questions about the drawdown or the dam, please contact one of the commissioners, Butch Roeder, Victor Pepin, or Derek MacAllister.
Views of the dam. Photos ~ Victor Pepin
Phil Hamilton Honored
The Granite Lake Village District will recognize the late Phil Hamilton for his service as Commissioner from 2002 until 2021 on Sunday, October 10, at 11:30 a.m., at the Granite Lake dam. Phil’s name will be added to the plaque that recognizes officers and commissioners for their contributions to the community. Please join the village district as they honor Phil for his long-serving commitment to the lake and the community.
People are welcome to convene at Victor Pepin’s gray cabana across the street from the Mill Pond beforehand, and in case of inclement weather, the activity will remain there.
In 2019, Nelson artist Wendy Klemperer was offered a unique opportunity: become an artist at sea with a scientific research team. The team was led by Dr. Jennifer Miksis-Olds, director of the Center for Acoustics Research and Education at the University of New Hampshire. The trip led to a series of watercolors, as well as some fish-themed metal work (her usual medium).
At the town meeting in August, a warrant article was approved to establish an ad hoc broadband committee, to research and document the need for improved internet coverage in Nelson, and further, to solicit proposals from high-speed internet providers based on the committee’s findings.
A small committee has been working on this and would appreciate residents and property owners completing a brief survey on current internet availability and usage.
The committee thanks you in advance for completing this survey as soon as you can.
Judi Lang’s turtle video last week got the most attention of anything we’ve published so far. We’re promoting it again this week. If you haven’t watched it, you must! And if you have, you’ll want to see it again. Especially because — there’s a SEQUEL!
Guitarist José Lezcano, with Virginia Eskin on piano, performed a concert in the Nelson Congregational Church on Saturday, September 19.
Natalia Blanchard of Nelson NH. Natalia started her music career in the Nelson Strings program, held at Nelson School. Natalia has loved music from a young age, and was counting down the days until she was old enough to participate in the strings program. She fell in love with the fiddle and has played for four years. Natalia takes voice lessons, loves reading, hiking, biking and camp, and is interested in foraging, plant and animal identification. During the pandemic cooking, baking and gardening have become a hobby. Soccer and gymnastics are non-pandemic activities. She is very excited for the Nelson contra dances to resume and is thrilled to continue learning fiddle and hopes to play at future dances. Natalia will be studying with Becky Tracy of Brattleboro, VT.
Lucca Pozzi of Windham, VT. Lucca plays ukulele, but his instrument of choice is piano. He has been taking music lessons for seven years studying jazz, classical and his passion, traditional dance music. Besides playing music, Lucca also enjoys composing music, constructing and riding on mountain bike trails. An avid outdoorsman he enjoys hiking, x-country skiing, snowboarding, soccer and basketball. If that isn’t enough, Lucca draws and makes stop-motion videos with Lego for his YouTube channel. He is a junior counselor at Meadows Bee Farm, teaching and supporting younger budding farmers. Raised bilingually, Lucca is fluent in German. Lucca will be studying piano and hopes to attend the Traditional Youth Camp put on by the Brattleboro Music Center.
The Johnny Trombly Scholarship supports and encourages young musicians interested in playing piano or other instruments for traditional New England dance music, an American dance music form that includes contra-dance and square dance music.
Guidelines: Residents of Cheshire, Sullivan or Hillsborough Counties (NH), the Upper Connecticut River Valley, and Windham County (VT) are welcome to apply. Those from other areas may apply: preference may be given to Monadnock area residents. Preference may also be given to those applicants age 18 and under. A full application can be viewed on monadnockfolk.org
Remaining deadlines are July 1, October 1 and January 1. Quarterly scholarships will be awarded until the annual scholarship fund is exhausted.
Robin Becker enjoys a nice connection with The Mowing and its proprietor, Harvey Tolman. She has written a couple of poems, published in her book The Black Bear Inside of Me, that pay tribute to Harvey’s character.
The Nelson Community Power project is moving forward with vigor! This effort will be further enhanced by everyone’s participation in a survey, which allows them to tailor the plan as it is being developed, to be most appropriate for the Town and its residents. Get current with Nelson Community Power . . .
Planning is underway for Old Home Week / Day 2022 – after a two year hiatus. This is a great opportunity to maintain a tradition, and also add some new ideas so that the tradition remains vibrant and appealing.
This is spearheaded by Elaine Giacomo and Jen Pepin, with survey help from Emily Tucker. We hope that you’ll take just a couple of minutes for this survey, to help guide this project. Of course we’ll be providing results and sharing ongoing developments with you through Nelson In Common.
The sack race – verging on the ridiculous and so much fun.
Nelson is thought to be the first among communities in this area to begin the Old Home Day custom. In 1899, Governor Frank W. Rollins, inspired by the Nelson gathering, urged the legislature to proclaim New Hampshire Old Home Week. Read about the history of Old Home Day in Nelson . . .
~ Lynn Elliot Francis
The original Olivia Rodham Memorial Library was the inspiration of Mary Edwards Elliot, my maternal great-grandmother. She convinced Henry Melville to donate the small parcel of land, arranged for architect Alexander F. Law (my grandfather), to design the building, and it was she who raised the funds to pay for its construction. In 1924, it was dedicated in memory of her good friend and summertime neighbor, Olivia Rodham, a botanist and teacher at Swarthmore College.
The charming building was a library until the present day library was built (1997). The Old Library was then used for a time as an art and gallery cooperative; my mother, Mamie Francis, was a member of this co-op. But the Old Library also stood empty for long periods. The building proved difficult for the Town to use as it was not designed with ADA requirements in mind and retrofitting it would be both expensive and destructive to the architectural integrity.
My father, Wally Francis, and I took over ownership of the building from the town in 2007, with the intent of saving it from being torn down, resolving to maintain it and use it for civic functions benefiting Nelson. We had the chimney repointed, mitigated the moisture build-up in the basement, painted the interior and exterior, and re-installed the original light fixtures, which had been miraculously kept safely tucked away in a hayloft. Nelson residents might well remember my father cutting the grass of the sloped lawn with a weed-whacker. We invited organizations to use the Old Library as a meeting space, had guest speakers give presentations on land conservation and forestry, and hosted Old Home Day exhibits.
To further secure the future of the building, a small number of Nelson residents – Sandy Mackenzie, Sally Coughlin, Wendy Klemperer, Bud and Kelly French – joined us in forming a Board of Trustees, to create a set of by-laws and apply for NH nonprofit status, which we were granted in 2016. In 2019, my father and I transferred ownership of the building to this nonprofit. Others have since joined the Board, which has been active in promoting the arts as well as land conservation in Nelson. We were deeply touched by the outpouring of support from the community when we created the Wally Francis Memorial Fund in 2019. It is my hope the Old Library continues on as a vibrant community meeting place in the heart of Nelson.
More Library Stuff
Olivia Rodham, painting by Margaret Redmond
Olivia Rodham, a Quaker, was born in 1845 near Belaire, Hurford County, Maryland, daughter of William and Rachel Rodham. There she grew up, and when her mother and sister died shortly after the Civil War, she assumed the responsibility of looking after her father. At the age of thirty-five, a growing estrangement led her to leave the farm. Abruptly, at night, penniless, she walked to a neighbors.
Excerpts from: A History of Nelson by Parke Hardy Struthers and Olivia Rodham by Robbins Milbank, as originally published in the Nelson / Harrisville Newsletter, February, 1982 – republished on the Nelson History website.
The Pennsylvania Settlement
A group of kindred spirits from Pennsylvania followed Olivia Rodham to Nelson. The remarkable story is told by Teri Upton in her book, which is available at the Library, as well as the Historical Society of Cheshire County. It has also been published, in full, with extensive illustrations, on the Nelson History website.
When I was in college, and later in graduate school at MIT, in the City and Regional Planning Program, I had many opportunities to come across references to Olmsted, often called the founder of landscape design in this country. Upon occasion, I have walked through a few of his creations: Central Park in Manhattan, along the Fenway (part of the Emerald Necklace) so valued by Bostonians. And on the grounds of private residences, most recently at the wedding of Butch Johnson, a longtime Nelson summer resident (now no longer with us, unfortunately), in Yarmouth, Maine. The house and grounds where the wedding was held were quintessential Maine summer cottage c. 1880. Delightful. On the wall of the entryway was the original plan for the grounds, as laid out by Olmsted, so Pamela and I could walk around and see what had been kept of the original plan, and what had been changed over the years. Much was the same. Much had been changed.
Just down the road from where I now sit in Nelson is an “Olmsted” landscape design, sort of, which is unchanged over the years. This is the story.
William Hall, a nephew of Olmsted, built a summer place called Greengate, beyond the end of what is now called Brickyard Road, where I live. Wilmer Tolman built the driveway to it, and cut some of the lumber for its construction at his sawmill. He looked after it in the winter for Hall, and so was well known by the family. One early fall afternoon, as Wilmer was working on the driveway to summer cottages he had built for rental at the upper end of his mowing, Olmsted went by (while in town to visit his nephew) and stopped to talk.
I think of their conversation as along the lines of the following: “Wilmer, what are you doing?” Olmsted asked. “Ah, well, I’m trying to divert rainwater from washing out the camp road. It’s a little steep here, and if the water is allowed to run down the wheel tracks, the gravel in the road will wash out.” “Yes, I see, and you can’t put a culvert in because of the big rock and maybe ledge,” Olmsted replied. “Quite so,” Wilmer said, neglecting to mention that he thought such expense uncalled for. “And what do you call this structure you are building?” “A water bar.” “Indeed. A water bar. And that’s just what it does – it bars the passage of water. Wonderful. May I give you a hand?” Olmsted took off his jacket, grabbed a shovel, and together he and Wilmer created a water bar on the camp road, which remains here to this day. (This action of Olmsted’s is firmly located in family lore, though the words may have been different.) Others have worked on that water bar in the century or so since that time. Certainly Gordon Tolman, Rodger Tolman, Harvey Tolman, and myself, and more than likely many others now forgotten. But it’s still known in my family as “the Fredrick Law Olmsted Memorial Water Bar.” And unlike many of his creations, it is essentially unchanged from the day of its construction. I like to think both he and Wilmer would approve.
To the extent this oral tradition has any relationship with reality, what does it tell us about Olmsted? He was of an inquiring mind. He was not averse to talking with real people nor working with his hands. Even in old age he had a lot of energy. Perhaps also he was bored with the company of his nephew’s family?
Editor’s note: Ethan Tolman was a significant figure in the (relatively) recent history of Nelson. He served on many town boards and committees, and served for many years as the Town moderator. He was a prolific writer and astute historian. Other articles he has written can be found on the Nelson History website.
So – where is this water bar? If you think you know, put your answer in the comments below.
Nelson has been relatively fortunate with the recent rains. Our roads remained largely intact, and where damage occurred, it was quickly repaired. Not so every where. We do see that the Bailey Brook Falls, while still vigorous, is much more subdued than a week or so ago (see a video). We are seeing some interesting and unusual things in and around the forests.
Shroomhenge, an ancient Celtic phenomenon that emerges here periodically.
Bailey Brook Falls
A few months ago we ran an announcement for a new Writer’s Residency, to be sponsored by The Old Library. This Residency is for emerging poets who require time and space for creative work. The original Olivia Rodham Memorial Library which sits up on a little knoll just off the Common, has in recent years come under the ownership and management of The Old Library, a NH non-profit dedicated to using the building for events that promote the arts and land conservation.
The residency provides the use of this building, as well as accommodation in the nearby historic former home of the poet, May Sarton.
Alec Hershman will be in the first “Writer in Residence” at The Old Library from this Sunday August 8th through Saturday August 14th. He will be staying in the “May Sarton” house in the Village. Friday, August 13th there will be a reception to meet him (with appropriate Covid protocols in place). There will also be a public reading on Saturday. Times to be announced soon and should be posted on this website’s calendar.
Alec teaches writing and literature at Washtenaw Community College, and does community organizing projects with service industry workers in the Ann Arbor area. He earned his MFA at Washington University in St. Louis, and is the author of two volumes of poetry–Permanent and Wonderful Storage (2019), winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Prize, and The Egg Goes Under (2017)—both available from Seven Kitchens Press. His latest project is tentatively titled Spandrel: a Queer Ecopoetics. He lives with his husband and their two dogs in southeastern Michigan.
Below you’ll find a link to an article that starts with a look at Log Cabin Road. Meanwhile, there was some interesting activity going on along that road recently: Val Van Meier sent us this video. We think there’s a story there – so hopefully when we are back next week we’ll have more to tell.
Here’s a little piece of whimsy I dashed off quite a few years ago when some event or threat of development or decision of the then Town Fathers made me wish we could just Brigadoon the whole town.
The Brigadoon Article
To see if the town will vote to proclaim the Town of Nelson a voluntary and positive anachronism, and to authorize the Selectmen to petition the state and federal governments to acknowledge that this town wishes to be, if it must, an island of calm and quiet in the very midst of what is called “inevitable growth”. By anachronism is meant: a place of woods, fields and wildlife; a non-commercial village with houses scattered through the hills in random fashion; a place which time passes by; a town in which one may do as one wishes with one’s own property if it is not harmful to neighbors or posterity; a town which may not bustle but nonetheless will thrive; a place to come home to. The town may, in its wisdom through the years, enact pertinent legislation to strengthen this article.
Every year at Christmastime I am reminded of the very first Christmas we had here in Nelson. I don’t remember the exact date, but on one particular day in mid-ish December near suppertime there came a knock at the front door.
In 1977, Sam and I saw an ad in the Harvard Crimson (thank you Karen Tolman) for a camp for rent in Nelson, near a place called Tolman Pond. We had some friends in Peterborough and Hancock, so we decided to rent the cabin to get out of Cambridge in the summer.
As I write this, too much rain is taxing my enthusiasm for my garden. For me, even under the best of circumstances, this is the most challenging time of year. I do love the arrival of fall with the changing light accompanied by cooler, crisper air. The evolving fall palette, as spectacular as it is, comes with the knowledge that my flower garden season has peaked, and I must transition to this new season.
This article is adapted from the October, 1985 issue of the Grapevine-2, Nelson’s community newsletter at the time.
There have been many librarians over the years at the Olivia Rodham Memorial Library, and a few of them deserve special mention.