New Hampshire got its first “real” snowfall of the season (i.e., plowable snow) on Saturday night. Totals ranged from 8-12” depending on where you were, but certainly it was enough to make skiers happy and ensure a white Christmas for the rest of us. My little village, wearing a coat of white, looks like a Christmas card itself. Sometimes I think I live in a postcard.
The early settlers here were farmers and loggers, and at first the population grew. However, before the Civil War, the population of the area began a long, slow decline because of poor soil and harsh winters. The 19th century brought something more positive: the railroad, steamboats, and visitors from the cities to enjoy the cool summer breezes and the sparkling water of Lake Winnipesaukee. Catering to the “summer people” continues to this day. The railroad bypassed this side of the lake, but steamboats brought businessmen, writers, poets, and their families from the railroad in Laconia to the landing here. Without the railroad, this side of Lake Winnipesaukee developed little industry. The year-round population eventually stabilized (241 at last count), but the area changed slowly. If you look at decades-old postcards of this area, the houses and roads look virtually the same. This little village today looks much as it did 100 years ago, and the “big lake” still sparkles alongside the shore.
Well, not at the moment. It’s frozen.
One of my favorite quotes – actually two lines of a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson – must have been written on a day like today. Blue sky, frigid temperatures, and with a stiff breeze off the lake, he wrote:
“Here where the wind is always north-north-east
And children learn to walk on frozen toes.”
The title of the poem? “New England.”
Surely, today – at ten below zero – children were walking on frozen toes.