Lunch with Swift

Roaming southern New Hampshire's Monadnock Region and beyond — visiting unique places and tasting the local flavor..


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Accidental Row

It a was a bit like a dream.   Lucy, Swifty (two of my grown kids) and I were standing outside the Port Townsend Maritime Center which is a complex of a coffee shop, boat shop, and crew house in  a little town in the far north end of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state.    It was mid June.   We found ourselves watching this group of citizen athletes put up the rowing shells after their morning practice.  Ted, the coach and “row master” came into view and said “Lucy, what brings you down here”.   Apparently earlier in the year,  they had made acquaintance when Lucy had worked at the local watering hole –The Pour House.  He had seen her as a possible recruit.   She was feeling the importance of doing one thing at a time.   She said, “I just wanted to show my dad and my brother the Port Townsend crew house”.    Ted said,  “But, we still want to get you to come on down and row with us.  What are you up to, now?”     Lucy said she had just graduating from her school program at the Port Townsend school of Massage and she was going to be getting to work.   Ted said “sounds like you have time for us now”.   And he said, “who are these big guys with you.”   Lucy introduced   Swifty and I.  He could tell were all interested in this scene since we all had rowed in former lives in college.   Swifty was now out of commission because he had recently nearly cut off a few of his fingers in a firewood accident.

But, Ted could see our enthusiasm and met ours with excitement of his own.

At this point, we were completely off track on the mission of getting coffee.   But we we on no hurried schedule to get to the mountains either.   He said, ” do you want to have a look in our boathouse?”   We all said, “you bet.”

The Port Townsend crew house is a very sleek, new structure of glass, aluminum, and Scandinavian style blond wood paneling.  It is all very organized with perfectly finished boats tended with care and love.   There are two bays with 4 sets of racks holding the long crew shells and sculls that are filled with 6 boats racked up to the ceiling.    The light streams in and shines off the beautiful finish of the old wooden boats.    He said “see these boats?  We love old the wooden boats. We love to restore , row, and breathe new life into them.”     He asked me if I had ever heard of Pocock boats.   I answered him that when I had started rowing in the mid 1970s, we were using boats made in the 1950s and early 1960s by the george Pocock company.  We still had not gotten the fiberglass boats that would eventually take over  as the must-have equipment of the sport.  Those fiberglass boats would kill some of the aesthetic and mystique  of the sport for awhile.  They were lighter though.

He asked me if I had read the “Boys in the Boat.”   He was so excited about all of it–  Like this was some kind of epicenter.   I told him I had listened to it raptly in my travels.   He couldn’t help himself.    He next said “Let me introduce you to Steve,  he is the genius who restores these things.”   Then, we left the sleek crew house and headed through a weedy path in a boat yard passed barnacled blue hulks, barrels, piles of ropes,  rusty chain, old trucks, empty yacht racks and tractors.     We walked into a deep, old dark hanger workshop where there were many projects in different phases of completion.  Front and center was an old wooden eight  being restored.     Steve not only had this boat, but he had original jigs which had laid up many of these boats and thick chunks of wood from which he would be cutting 3/16s” veneers to patch holes in the skin of the shell.   And he had old tools for boat making, too.   By one old saw, there was a picture of George Pocock himself standing by the saw that was in this workshop like a ghost.  8 fingers were in full display.  He lost two making these boats–at this saw?!   The same two fingers coincidentally that Swifty was nursing back to life on his left hand.

Steve described how he was working on some rotten ash ribs and once he was done with that, he would be refinishing the shell with coats of varnish applied just so.  Then,  he pointed out that this boat that he was working on was an octet, not an eight.

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That is a rowing shell that has eight rowers in it with 16 oars.  Any oarsman will tell you that is a rare boat.  I have never seen one of these things in many years with the sport.  We just gaped and tried to take it in.

The excitement continued as our tour led us to a different part of the workshop where an other project awaited.

Ted showed us this wooden single scull with a crushed bottom.   He asked us what was our best guess about how the boat came to be damaged.    I guessed that someone drove into a garage.  “Nope.” “Someone dropped something on it.” “nope.”

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And a few more guesses went by, when he offered that a bear had broken into the garage where the boat had been being stored, and he mauled it.  Closer inspection,  yep,  there were the deep claw marks from a bear.  It was unmistakable.   That is one thing that happens when you mix the Pacific Northwest with rowing.

We got to experience an other facet of mixing the Pacific Northwest and rowing more intimately,  too.

By the time Ted had finished with our tour of the boat house, he know we were into the whole scene.   He judged correctly that we had had some experience with rowing and that we would like to go out on the water with the Rat island rowing club.    He said “Lucy, want to join us?”  She said sure!  He said why don’t you bring your dad along, too.  We will put you in a boat at 7 am tomorrow morning.  Just show up.”

Again,  this whole magic experience happened just because we had stopped at the  Velocity coffee shop to get a little cup of coffee before going on this day’s adventure to the mountains.  Instantly,  we realized  had just been given a nice invitation.

In unison, we said “sure”.

We ordered some fine Washington style gourmet coffee and headed on our way up into the mountains fizzing from the excitement.  The coffee didn’t hurt.    This day would be one door opening into an infinite space, after another.

By the time we turned in, we were exhausted.   But we had to get some good rest because Lucy and I were going rowing.  We traveled through many of miles and sat upon numerous vistas looking inward as we were looking outward each of us carrying our own personal burdens.

The next day we woke up and excitedly put on our togs.   At her house,  Lucy offered me a bicycle and we rode 2 miles down to the boat house.   Yesterday’s same group of folks greeted us. Even better, the water was flat calm.

Ted assigned Lucy and I position 2 and 3 seats in a quad.  We were going to be rowing with  a guy named Steve (different from the boat craftsman) and a woman named  Peggy.    They asked if we had ever rowed and we both said we had, but we had not much sculling experience with 2 oars.   Lucy and I had always rowed with sweep oars.

They decided to give us 30 seconds of instruction on the way our hands were supposed to be.  And the  next thing we knew, Lucy and I were carrying one of these antique wooden boats we had been staring at yesterday to the ocean for a put in.  “Hands down, boat to waist.  Hold the gunwale.  Ready to turn it.  Turn it.  All four lower it.”  …We lowered the boat in the water.    There was no dock.  Lucy and I adjusted our foot stretchers with our bare feet on the round rocks in the cold water.  The carcass of a big fish waved lazily by our feet in what remained of a fishermans filleting waste.  A big chinook salmon?  It probably was.  The tail was 8 or 9 inches across.  It was a big fish.

We set the oars in and screwed the overlocks tight.  The oars rested flat on the water as a little wave came by off the stern of a passing sail boat motoring out to sea.  All four of us were ready.  Lucy and I got in and tied our feet in the foot stretchers.   While we held our oars steady, the other two climbed in.   Four other quads were going through the same routine and putting in for the morning row.  Peggy, the stroke, said we will take a few light strokes and then get right into it, full slide, full power.   Lucy and I thought this might be a kind of dubby experience with a lot of half slide rowing and with 2 pairs of oars on the water while the other two rowed.    But this is not what they had in mind.   We took the second half slide stroke and Steve, the man with the steering, and the coxswain duties, said,  “full slide, full power, nice and easy, slow return, hit it,  quick catch, drive it… Drive it.”      …And then there was just the sounds of the rowing.  He was quiet as we rowed.  It was Lucy and I and these two strangers just lifting this boat forward, smoothly.   The boat pried ahead with plenty of swing and run.  The other boats we were out with had had quite a head start on us but we noticed we were moving as well as any of them.   We all said “this is not a race.”    But there was a little something that made us want to go fast and faster.      Lucy, giggled.  ” Dad, this feels amazing”.    Peggy and Steve echoed the same thing.  Peggy said “man, this thing is leaping forward.”

After rowing non stop for about 25 minutes,  we had passed the Port Townsend boat yard.     With the clinking halyards of the big sailboats and the  kachunk kachunk kachunk of Diesel engines starting up.    We had gone by most of the town’s waterfront.  Steve steered us in a wide arc out into the inner bay.     He said “hard to starboard, light with the port oar.”   In about 15 smooth strokes he said “way enough.”  Those words mean, hold your oar and let it run.  And the boat glided with the oars flying like wings over the water.   The hull made almost no noise except a slight lapping of the water parting and the subtle creaking of our feet wiggling in the foot stretchers as our toes controlled the balance of the boat.

Finally, our oars dropped flat on the surface of the water and the boat glid  for a few mor yards and came to a stop.  We looked up and waited for the other boats to gather up and the launch to corral us for the return trip.  As we waited,  what surrounded us held us in a spell.   To our right was a pulp mill,  the industrial heart of Port Townsend.  It steamed, burped and hissed. There was even that smell that people in such a town accept as part of life.

Further off in the distance,  loomed great mountains.  There were the Olympics near by and further on we could see the snowy volcanos, Mount Ranier, Mount Baker, and Mount Hood.   Craning our necks around,  we could see across Puget Sound and the mountains of British Columbia.  Snow  patches held tight to their sides.   We could also see container ships passing out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.    An other minute or two passed and a porpoise rose off our stern and slid with a few rolling arcs. To our right, there was a harbor seal.

We took it all in and continued to be amazed with how this boat felt miraculously smooth.

Everyone gathered up now and readied for the return trip.   We and our quad went back the same way we came,  and in a similar  style.   Harder and smoother than any of us had expected.

Coming back into the beach,   Lucy and I took inventory of our new blisters.  And we realized loose, broken skin was a very small price for this experience we had just shared.

All of the quads were drawn into the beach, lifted up to the boat house and the old highly varnished cedar was lovingly wiped down outside and in.   Everyone pitched in to make the work of putting the boats in the boathouse and up on the racks easy and jolly.

But what to do then? We were finished with our incredible row.   Lucy suggested another trip the Velocity coffee shop.  Oh yes,  it is similarly sleek and modern.   There was a definite wooden boating vernacular.  And the chrome of the espresso machine set well against the natural  wood.        We ordered Lattes and a chocolate croissant.    The cash register rang and it was the first money we had spent that morning with all of that.
Note to the Rat Island Boat club: Lucy is joining.

We sat with the rowing club members  in the coffee shop and talked about the morning row.   Conversation centered on the gratitude of this morning spiced with a tales of  calamities and history.    It was all a little infection (of excitement) that would not be going away.

Appropriately,  the barista who made this fine cup of coffee, had carefully swept the foam with his brewing tools, a perfect heart.

As I drank this delicious cup,  I tried not to disturb his  artfully work.

Did I really get to do this with my daughter?

I did. It was not a dream.

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A late winter iceboating adventure 2015 Lake Sebago, Maine

Iceboat adventure late winter 2015
The phone rang Sunday, “Hey, Swift they are sailing up at Lake Sebago on Monday (March 23rd.)” Outside, the wind was howling and shaking the house. I said,” I am not so sure about that.” He said, “Come on, it I’ll be great. Let’s go.” I wavered and waffled and finely said OK!
We left early in the morning and stacked the two iceboats up on the truck with all of the stuff that goes with them. The sails, planks, skates, tool boxes, and masts. We did an inventory and went: check, check, check. We did the same for our outerwear: boots, helmets, goggles, mittens, warm clothes: check, check, check. And we set off.
It was a beautiful morning that promised to be a great day of spring ice sailing. The crazy wind of the night had abated a bit and the flags were merely snapping, not actually visibly shredding. We headed up through Hillsboro, Hopkinton and Concord. Then we crested the Chichester Hill as the sun was at a low morning angle lighting the amazing shaker style barns with a soft glow. It’s the same hill I have mentioned in an earlier post about Katie’s Kitchen. One thing that I always wondered about is cupolas. How come all of these barns seemed to have them? As we rode along, I mused out loud. Tom, a man of deep practical knowledge of most things immediately piped up. “They are there so the barns don’t burn up. He said it vents the hay.” Of course, I just had spent more time thinking about the way they looked rather than the way they worked. It also seems to me that there are a lot of cupolas that are over the hill in the maintenance department. It was a simple question that opened my eyes to the way things work (and look) around here.
Anyway, we rolled on thinking about cupolas getting nearer to Sebago. We rolled through Alton, Wolfeboro, Ossipee, Freedom, and then into Maine — Cornish, and then Naples and the west side of Sebago. Driving a long distance to go sailing is always a crapshoot. In doing so, you are looking for better ice than what is local. It is also to seek the company of other sailors. We wondered
the ice would be like as we drove closer and who would be there. The anticipation became more feverish as we got closer. We passed by Our Lady of Sebago chapel and knew we were almost there. Maybe we should have paid respect to her? As Nason’s Beach and Campground came into view we saw about 20 Iceboats set up with their noses pointed toward the shore and sails lightly flapping. It was an off shore breeze from the west. Out on the wide part of lake there were a number of sails moving quickly across the ice. Tom let out a loud low guttural “ahhh,” which is his all-purpose exclamation of satisfaction, excitement, alarm, etc. The ice was rough, not a perfect plate, but definitely sailable.
We drove on the ice like we were driving onto a parking lot, confident that the truck wouldn’t fall through. There were plenty of other cars parked there already. We unbent our bodies from the truck and got to un-racking the boats to set them up.

Here is where I ran into a little trouble. The excitement and anticipation of sailing super-fast sometimes gets me going a little careless when I am putting the iceboat together. I have developed some shortcuts and use tools to make things easier. For instance, there are some 9/16ths inch nuts which you have to attach the plank and skates with. It used to be I used an open ended wrench and laboriously turned the nuts in the freezing cold. Now, I use an impact wrench like you hear at the stock car races. It says a metallic “DatDatDat.” Problem is, if you are not careful you can strip the threads on the soft bolts pretty easily. This is exactly what I did. “Oh crap!” My immediate instinct was to go around, like a mooch, and ask if anyone had this specialized part: a plank stud. Without it, there would be no sailing.

Time out, let me explain about iceboating. The people and the contraptions that they come to the ice to sail with are an endless distraction. The variety is always entertaining.

Out on the part search, I got into at least 5 conversations about other people’s cool boats. We marveled at the day. And compared notes on where we had come from had come from and the long drives that we had made. All of them were enthusiastic iceboating strangers. But, none had the part I was looking for. Then I looked at the guy’s truck who was parked next to me. On the bumper there was a metal effigy.
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I saw the man near the truck and said distractedly, “love your bumper, man

He shot back, “Yea, cool, I am a blacksmith.” Slowly, it dawned on me in talking to this guy, that this part could be made at a local metal shop. After I got from this guy that he lived up in the northeast kingdom and he taught metalwork and had a gallery and he invited me to come and see his place… I said bye. I whipped out my google machine and typed in “metal shop.” Lo and behold, there was one 8 miles away with 4 and ½ stars. I hit: navigate to. Tom was all set up and eager to get out sailing. As I drove off the ice, he was headed out to race. I had mostly given up on the notion of sailing this day. I figured I would just embrace getting my boat fixed. While Tom would get his sailing fix.
I pulled up to the small shop and knocked on the guy’s house door. He was eating lunch. “hiya, sorry to bother you at lunch, could you help me out? I have got this piece that the bolt is stripped off from it. ” He looked at it. “No problem.” Ok, I will digress, it is something that the google machine sent me to this guy. It is something else that he was there, nice, and willing to drop what he was doing to make this part for me! We went in his shop and it was filled with at least 50 cool metal projects. I could tell he did work for the really high end lake houses like wrought Iron railings, and cool racks, as well as artistic sculptures. The shop was a cluttered but organized feast for the eyes. I realized that, Santa might call on him from the North Pole if he had some special metal work that he needed done for a toy he was building. Anyway, I gave him the part to replicate and in 15 minutes he made it, perfectly. I said what do I owe you? He said $20, I gave him $40 and said “thank you so much.” How could it have been anymore efficient to get something weird like this fixed? No good answer, I was just lucky. Immediately I picked up the new piece.
Another problem, It had just been red hot about 45 seconds before. Smoke rose from my left thumb and index finger like two smoking guns as I dropped the part on the table. Burned skin? I couldn’t be bothered with it slowing me down. I paused a bit and realized that the hat on my head would be fine to carry the hot part. I found a piece of wood on the floor and cooly nudged it into my hat. The part co tinued to smoke in my hat leaving a burnt hat smell in hisc shop. The welder feller looked at me smiled and rolled his eyes. He said “have fun out there and be careful.” I was off and running.

Soon I was back at my boat setting it up. This time I was more careful with the tools. I took my time and soon had the beautiful boat set up.
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I looked out and most of the boats were now barely moving. Curiously, amidst the sails that seemed to be stalled out, there were a few boats that were moving fast. I suited up and headed out. As I went I saw some folks that had been out on the big part of the lake. I asked them “is it even worth it?” They said “don’t know, you will have to see for yourself.” On a big lake like Sebago, it is possible to get several miles away from your put in very fast — only to have the wind die. This forces you to have to walk the boat back a long way to the car. Again, I looked up and most sails were stalled out.
I scootered the boat out with one foot and the other knee in the cockpit as there was barely enough wind to make it go over the rough ice. Then, I had to cross a huge pressure ridge. This ran north and south ¼ of a mile out parallel to the shore. There were huge plates of ice pushed up and a big scary puddle that I had carry over to slop through. It was almost no time after getting situated east of the pressure ridge (30 seconds or so) that I felt a good puff across my cheek. The sail ruffled and snapped open and taught. The sail battens set tight. And the boat lurched forward. Acceleration was instant and intense. I shot a line from north to south in long 4 mile tacks. Jibing around and gaining speed and coming about to check it down. The boat flew across the rough ice like the Millennium Falcon close to the surface of the Death Star. The notion of time disappeared. I was easily hitting 60 miles an hour. But the
felt perfectly tuned to the day. The skates were sharp and holding the ice. The mast was correctly raked.
Experiencing this speed, I felt some flecks of ice hit my face like cold little shards of glass. Goggles were an absolutely necessary. Somehow the wind was warm. Strangely with that intense apparent wind across my fingers holding the sheet, I was comfortable for a long time sailing in a sweater and without gloves.
Out of nowhere, Tom appeared in his boat. We sailed in formation together like a pair of World War II fighters. Like Mustangs, out flying with no bogies in sight, just a beautiful afternoon. We swooped around on 2 dimensions on and on cheating the late winter.
Then, I pulled up into the wind and I waved Tom over. I said to Tom “Hey, I think we have used up our luck at these speeds. We are sure to break something or us. Let’s pack it up and call it a day.” He laughed and agreed. We went in and took our boats with leisure and care. Back without incident. Packed for the long haul home.
After a day like this, sometimes I lie in bed at night and think about the calliope of experiences and the distance I have covered and the people I have met. I take a few breaths and its deep sleep — awakening the next day a bit sore. That reminds me that I just had a big day.
But I must add, I forgot to get lunch!


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Hot Cocoa

I have been taste testing the hot chocolate offerings from the various places around.  Until I set out on this mission,  I never knew how many totally incredible hot chocolate stops there are around.

Here is a short list.  Every one of these places will hand make a cup of chocolate heaven in Southern NH

Burdick ‘ s,   Walpole
Prime Roast,  Keene
Brubakers, Keene
Zeppelin and Kaleidescape Cafe, Marlborough
Harrisville Store, Harrisville
Ave Marias, Peterborough
12 Pine, Peterborough
Green Grocery, Peterborough
The Waterhouse, Peterborough
Fiddleheads, Hancock

Every one of these places offers unique, fabulous hot chocolate. 

Check them out!


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A very special Lunch with Swift (s)

I got this great opportunity to skin up to ski down over at Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey, NH  with my son Swifty late in February on the endless powder winter of 2015.  On the way over there, somehow we got talking about TV.  He let on that in their house, they are deep into Mad Men.  And we talked about how the show depicts the weird drink – for – any- reason culture.  It made me think it’s a time for a throwback Lunch With Swift.

I remember I was a senior in highschool home on some break.  I was full of all of the hope and uncertainty of that time of life.  My dad, also Swift, invited me to lunch at the Toledo Club in Toledo, Ohio. 

Probably most cities have a place like the Toledo Club.  But It sits deep in my memory and I doubt I will ever see it again.  This place was a monument to the white folks who built and ran the industrial culture and the other people who ran support staff for their comfort.    Mostly,  when I think of Mad Men, I think of the Toledo Club. 

When I met my dad for lunch, it was in a dining room with deep pile dark green velvet curtains. On the floor it was houndstooth carpeting.  The tables were elaborately set with china, crystal, silver, and linnen.   The walls were dressed in white oak paneling,  finished to a deep brown.  Even then I was interested in trees.  I wondered about the forests where these trees were cut and how awesome they must have been.  I wondered if any forests like this were  still around. I didn’t know at the time but later in my life I would find them.

Smoke hung heavy in the room in layered stinky, choking clouds.  The noon cocktail ice was clinking.  I could smell bourbon.   Most everyone was smoking and drinking and engaging in animated conversation. 

My dad, never one to have just one mission wanted me to talk to his friend Bill who sold life insurance.  I remember at this lunch,  he sold my father a universal whole life insurance policy for me.  Why an 18 year old needed a life insurance policy at that age,  I can only vaguely remember.  Something about a future beneficiary?  Maybe,  I was woozy from the smoke.  Maybe I was into my second 3.2 beer.  It was something about what a good investment vehicle it would be.  Time has told that it wasn’t.  Beth?

I remember that lunch was lamb with mint jelly and awesome pan  browned potatos and string beans. To finish it all off was a fat slice of moist German chocolate cake.

After all of that heavy smoke and rich food, my dad returned to work and I headed out to walk around in Toledo. 

This was during the decline of the  Seventies when Toledo was a industrial support city for the Detroit automotive industry:  glass,  spark plugs, spray paint,  fiberglass, and ball bearings.   But must I mention Gremlin,  Ambassador, Torino, Vega, and Duster?  — Probably not. Those cars ultimately couldn’t make it on the world stage.  But no one quite knew that yet.

The sidewalks in Toledo on that afternoon were filled with people.  Ladies in mink coats, children in tow,  men with fedoras, coats and tie, and long coats.  Cabs were everywhere.  Steam was pouring out of buildings.  Everyone walking with purpose to or from a job. When  I conjure this memory, it reminds me of what you see on the sidewalks of NYC now.

Anyway, that was lunch in 1976, Toledo, Ohio.  2015 it’s different there.  It is like a wave broke over the town and receded.  

Today with the young Swift and I, as we skied the powder on the mountain that Toledo I remembered was a long time ago.


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The Crow Bakery, Proctorsville, VT

What is an SOS sandwich?  We will get to that later, but first,

sos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.yelp.com/biz/crows-corner-bakery-and-cafe-proctorsville

This is really the name of this sandwich I ordered at the Crow Bakery in Proctorsville, VT.

Just before scene in this picture, I had carelessly knocked a potato chip on the floor.    In bending over to pick it up, I hooked the plate with my bulky ski garb and the whole dam
plate edged over the table and  hit the ground.

We had just finished skiing at Okemo in Ludlow Vermont on some of the best snow in the best winter in memory.  This reminds me that as we were riding up on the Okemo heated seat bubble chairlift (what’s that you ask? the future, I answer.  http://www.okemo.com/mountain-info/orange-is-whats-new/) We were talking about fine wine.  I have to say that this winter of 2015’s snow is like the finest wine.    Basically, it is perfect.  Powder, or packed powder, no ice.  Fabulous.

Thanks to the speedy 6 person bubble lift, by 2 pm we had had enough skiing and were ready for a good lunch.    Who knows how much vertical drop you can ski when you can go up and down so fast but it is alot.  Someone said we have to check out the Crow Bakery.     Indeed it was worthy of a slight side trip.

20150225_134104 This is the beautiful interior of the place.  It is a bakery with all of the most creative pastries and breads you could imagine.  There were 5 of us men coming in from the cold.   Micheal, David, Craig, Daniel and I took a seat at this table.    Nothing quick about this place, but we were not in a hurry.  We were in the playing hooky from work with a just-left- it- all- on- the- mountain-mood.    So we settled in and took in the light and warmth of the place.

David said it reminded him of Howard Frank Mosher an author of fiction often set in the Northeast Kingdom.

Walking to Gatlinburg,   Disappearances  I can recommend these two books if you are in the mood for some goofy and fun stories about backwoods Vermont.     If you read them you won’t forget them soon.

I got this reference,  there is nothing artificial in the place. It is very well kept and respectful of the village setting.    There are more places like this in Vermont and New Hampshire than in many places of the country.  It is one of the things that makes the towns we live in special and unique.    Here the decor set the tone, the food lived up to the place it was being served.     One fellow, Micheal had a vegetarian Chili with grated and melted Vermont Cheddar on top.   He is normally full of things to say and a great conversationalist.  He was silent.  That is saying something.  There were three Cubans that came to the table–  sandwiches that is– and no complaints.  Just Ahhs.

And my SOS. A Ham Panini with apples and melted cheese. The floor was so clean, I picked it up and ate every morsel, pickle and chip.  I did not actually call out for an SOS for my SOS.  I shut up and ate it.  Before leaving (reminds me of leavening) we got chocolate chip cookies and some loaves of bread.

We lingered over lunch and then ambled back to NH  in the bright afternoon sunlight to finish our day of hookey.    When we came to our original meeting place to go our separate directions, we knew we had had the privilege of an excellent winter day.    We reluctantly parted.


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Katie’s Kitchen, Wolfboro, NH

 

Hello again folks.

It was 18 below when we left the house at 3:50 in the morning.  Beth was headed to points west and warmer climates.  I volunteered to keep the fires burning literately because this endless winter was making no promises when it might warm up.    So it was off to the airport for me to drop her off for an early morning flight.

We drove through the cold black morning and parked at the Southwest curb.  With goodbyes, off she went.  There I was alone at the Manchester airport with white clouds of exhaust out my tailpipe thinking on one hand about her safe travels and on the other breakfast.  It was 4:50 am.    I decided it would be a good day for a run up north to visit an ongoing project up there.  I yelped Wolfboro, a town I knew along the way.

Top of the list was Katie’s Kitchen.  I hit the navigate to and took off.    The sun rose as I crested the hill in Chichester.   The big white farms and church there were lit up all white with a quick dash of pink.  From every house an aggressive plume of smoke that rose straight in the calm morning.

I have made the drive up to this are a number of times now and it seems to get shorter and shorter.  The landmarks along the way have now blured into several long dashes but the Chichester hill always remains distinct at all hours of the day.   And as I rolled north I knew breakfast was getting closer.

I pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall east of Wolfboro and didn’t immediately see Katies Kitchen.  It was 6 am and there was an open sign and lights on.  I walked through the door and there were a few other early risers in the place.  Inside it was well lit.  I went straight up to the counter and sat down at a stool.    A nice lady said what will you be having like I was a local.  Then she said cold out there, you working outside?  Putting it off? Yes and yes.  It smelled great in here.  Probably has been like this for all of its thirty years.  Except at one time people could have smoked and they don’t now.  What will you have, eggs?   I think this was Katie herself asking.

Yes, I’ll have the bacon and potatos, too.

I would say with some quick conversation and some  zip zip sound effects like you might have in a schlocky karate movie, breakfast was in front of me -steaming.   There has to be a word better than fast because as adjective, that is an understatement.    The question might have been what was the hurry?

I lingered a bit over black coffee and good breakfast and then asked about a blueberry muffin.  You bet they just came out of the oven.  Another zip zip and one was wrapped up for the next leg of my trip.   And off I went, to Freedom, NH.    Katie’s Kitchen is a great place and a little hard to find  without assistance if you are not a local.  Yelp it, you will go right to it.

Homey, pleasant, tasty and surprising in a little strip mall.

 

 


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Hillside Springs Farm, Westmoreland, NH

I haven’t posted a Lunch with Swift episode for a while.  Why?  Lately, I have been doing a pretty good job of breaking the habit of going to convenience stores.  Earlier in the summer, Beth and I focused our attention on paring down, and following a challenge called the “Whole 30.”  It provided a good platform to reset the way we think about what we eat.  In doing so, we have gotten way better about using leftovers and not getting so much quick food.

But it’s time to lay down another track.

http://www.hillsidespringsfarm.com/

Consistant with this theme,  I am doing some work for a Community Supported Agriculture (csa) over in Westmoreland called Hillsidesprings Farm.   This one is unique because the farmers are committed to using horses to do the labor instead of tractors.    They go so far as to use horse drawn sickle hay mowers and a hay loader to pick up the loose hay.  It didn’t occur to me until I was standing in the barn doors looking at the hay loft piled high with the beautiful loose hay brimming to the roof what this really meant.  The horse power is what it’s all about and hay is the fuel.  The ultimate in carbon neutrality.

Frank said there were only a few people left in NH who do hay this way and I bet Hillside Farm is the only CSA that is making a go of it using only horsepower cut hay from their own property to power horses that do the work on the farm.  

This is a beautiful thing both philosophically and visually.  The hay  barn is draped with several varieties of grapes ripening.  Apples are getting fat. 
As we passed by the tomato house, the inside was red with the tint of ripe tomatoes.   Frank handed me one and said “that’s a Paul Robson.”  Then he went on to tell me about the famous opera singer who, because of discrimination moved to Russia.   He spoke 7 languages and was a renown horticulturist as well.   As we walked on,  I ate the tomato.    It felt like a gift.   And he was the custodian of a lineage that  produced the stunning tomato whose juice was running down my front.