A Frosty Christmas

We drove to Manchester airport to pick up Mom and Dad for Christmas. We drove northwest through the White Mountains in the thick snow and ice. 2 interstates were closed nearby but we continued slowly onward. Nonetheless, we took the road less traveled to Franconia and the snowy path led uphill to Robert Frost’s home.

Robert Frost is considered the quintessential American bard or poet. He lived from 1874 to 1963. Right before his passing in Boston, he delivered the inaugural poem for JFK.

Robert Frost won 4 Pulitizer Prizes and the Congressional Gold Medal. He was born in San Francisco but moved alot. He lived primarily in New Hampshire and England where he was influenced by Ezra Pound, Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves. Frost went to Dartmouth and Harvard. He first published in 1915. He published 2 books called North of Boston and A Boy’s Will. His poetry quickly amassed a great following and by 1920, he was known all over America and beyond.

Pollyanna

We went to Littleton, NH to see the nation’s oldest ski shop called Lahouts. We bought some cross country skis as an early Christmas present to each other.

Littleton is also famous for being the town where Eleanor Porter wrote Pollyanna.

Pollyanna was a Disney movie with Hayley Mills. The original book is a children’s classic and was published in 1913. It tells the story of a very optimistic orphan girl who goes to live with her dour aunt in Vermont.

Today, you can visit her statue in front of the little public library and rub Pollyanna’s boot for good fortune and a glad attitude.

At Pollyanna Gateway, there’s a pretty array of colorful umbrellas and lights setup too. Here’s some pics of the main road.

Also, there’s a fantastic covered bridge in Littleton. It is long and has gorgeous views.

Outside of town is the Franconia State Park region. Mountains and hiking are plentiful here. Not far away is Franconia, home of Robert Frost, the famous New England poet.

And you can go see a marker for the nation’s oldest ski school or see Polly’s Pancake Parlor for maple syrup and pancake mixes outside Sugar Hill.

Finding Frost

I have begun my way down a path less taken.

We are moving East away from all we know and hold dear. 19 years of my life I have spent in this little Midwest town, 7 years as a girl and 12 as a woman with children. There are some that don’t understand our decision. The children are out of the nest now and my husband got a lucrative opportunity to move to New England to cover the Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine territory and to branch further into Canada selling windows and doors for major architectural projects. I am excited for him. He’s growing. He’s very good at what he does and he has a passion for it.

I hope to grow too. 6 years working in photography has made me consider an interest in side work photography. I plan to get a day job up there in the Northland. What I will do……I have no idea but it is thrilling and slightly scary to start fresh somewhere new.

We’ve sold the house we’ve lived in for years, spent endless hours searching for apartments, and begun the god awful process of relinquishing possessions that have been hoarded for years….downsizing from home to little apartment. I keep telling myself it is a good thing to travel lightly. It’s hard to let go of the attachment to stuff.

I spend a lot of time researching New England and in doing so…..I discovered Robert Frost.

We originally sought out an apartment in Littleton or Bethlehem, New Hampshire due to the picturesque covered bridge and mountains in the distance photos. Littleton has consistently ranked within the top small towns to live in America. It’s very hard to find apartments around that region apparently but according to the records provided at the Franconia farmstead of Robert Frost, he first rented in the Bethlehem (a small town near Littleton) region too…..probably seeking out the beautiful White Mountains experience as well.

This excerpt is from The Frost Place website in Franconia where Robert Frost lived with his family from 1915 to 1920:

“Frost first discovered this area of the White Mountains when he came there to seek relief from hay fever. He brought his family there and they fell in love with the area. The Frosts first rented rooms from the Irish farmer John Lynch in the late summer of 1907 outside of Bethlehem, N.H. Frost wrote to his friend and early editor Susan Hayes Ward, who had visited the family there, of the time spent at Bethlehem: ‘How long ago and far away Bethlehem is already. Our summer was one of the pleasantest we have had for years. . . . There is a pang there that makes poetry.’

Frost had returned from England and had grown romantic for New Hampshire and New England. He was searching for a farm in the Franconia area that had a view. He happened on one farm that he liked but it wasn’t for sale. The owner of the farm Willis E. Herbert was outside and the two men began a conversation. Herbert happened to be looking for more land and if Frost could pay a thousand dollars for the farm then he would be willing to sell it.

Frost showed the house to his family and they all agreed and he shook hands with Herbert on the price of a thousand. It wasn’t until Herbert began to see Frost’s picture in the papers that he decided a thousand was too fair a price for Frost to pay and he should pay one or two more hundred for the farm. Frost agreed and the family moved in June of 1915.”

— Francis McGovern, from literarytraveler.com

When I read The Road Not Taken again within this context…..I think of these White Mountains and the surrounding woodland…..of leaves in Autumn……orange, yellow, red, brown……falling gently and silently in the woods to the still ground. I wonder what the woods are like up there….if they are similar to the Ozarks or more coniferous.

I think of Frost in these woods pondering a divergence in foot paths.

I look forward to finding the solace of these woods… to visiting Franconia and Bethlehem and walking in them myself some day soon.

Hiking

This is a great poem by Robert Frost called The Road Not Taken. It is here to celebrate National Take a Hike Day on November 17th.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.