We are in Harrisville, New Hampshire for a few weeks. My wife is attending a weaving workshop, and I have the entire day to focus on finishing up my next book. (More on that later!)
Harrisville (pop. 961), right outside metropolitan Dublin, New Hampshire and a mere 5 miles from Peterborough, New Hampshire is a step back in time to a different America. An America of long ago not yet overrun by urban development.
Each morning we leave the Harrisville Inn, the B&B where we are staying, and walk about a mile to “downtown” Harrisville. Harrisville is best known for its loom making and weaving design center. The building was once a sawmill and grist mill built back in the late 1700’s.
An old channel flows beneath the building and was once harnessed to power the machinery. Converted to a weaving education center, it teaches and preserves the art of weaving.
A short distance away is the Harrisville General Store/Restaurant/Community and Cultural Center. If you want to find anybody who lives in Harrisville, come here. If they aren’t here for coffee in the morning, they’ll be here for lunch.
It is a place with everything you might need and nothing you might want. Somehow, they know the difference.
A place where people leave their keys in the car.
A place where they trust their kids to know how to cross the street and expect them to say please and thank you.
A place where they say hi to everyone, using first names when they know them, introducing themselves and asking if they don’t.
A place where the flag goes up each morning at 6 a.m. and down at 6 p.m. If it rains, they do not put it up. A tip of the hat to the old rules of respect. I dare say, people would dive into the road to save the flag from touching the ground.
A place where a chalkboard in the town square reports the latest deaths and births.
A place where an ice cream social is a major event.
A place where people will leave their dog with you, telling you the dog’s name as if introducing a family member, while they run in for a paper.
Neither the dog or their owner thinks this unusual.
Meet Hero, my new friend. We meet for coffee each morning on the front porch of the country store. Not much of a conversationalist, but a great listener.
The local conversations range from how much firewood they have split and stacked for winter to how the corn is coming up to how much of the just ripened berries the bears got last night.
It’s a place where they will tell you great places to fish, but not the best places to fish.
It is not the America of Mayberry, but it is as close as we can get in 2018. I am sure they have all the same concerns of politics and world events.
I am sure they have deep feelings about the way the country is going. They keep that mostly to themselves, preferring to speak at the voting booth.
I am also sure that they are the best example of how real Americans can weather any storm, bear any burden, survive any partisan political upheaval, and still remember what matters.
As I sit there, the Simon & Garfunkel song, “America,” plays in my head.
“…they’ve all come to look for America…”
I think I found it, Paul.