Daybreak

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Daybreak

“Daybreak” – copyright by Edward M. Fielding

This image of a rural farm and striking red barn with setting sun in the Fishtail, Montana area is a good example of unexpected gold when one is looking for subjects to shoot. We were staying in Red Lodge Montana after touring the Beartooth Highway region including Cooke City and Silver Gate on the edge of Yellowstone National Park. On a tip from the innkeeper we set out with some sketchy directions known only to our driver.

Unfortunately the simple directions didn’t seem to pan out and we never did find that “amazing canyon area”. But luckily I had the fortitude to risk ticking off the car load of family members with requests to pull over. I got a number of useable rural landscape shots, probably more than we would have gotten in the mysterious canyon.

It just goes to show you that life is a journey and one really doesn’t want to race to the finish line. The real living and photographing happens along the way.

“Daybreak” by fine art photographer Edward M. Fielding is available as prints and framed art via Society6. http://society6.com/EdwardMFielding/Daybreak-Square-Format_Print#1=45

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Welcome to Downtown Metropolitian Etna New Hampshire

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Copyright by Edward M. Fielding

Copyright by Edward M. Fielding

Does it feel strange to have to give directions to someone in this modern age?  In the age of smartphones and GPS units?   Well whenever I have to give directions to someone, like the gravel delivery man or a lumberyard delivery (for some reason these guys just do it old school), I have to tell them to travel through “Downtown Metropolitan Etna and then look for the SECOND Dogford Road. Not the one buy the cemetery but the one past Hanover Center green.  And don’t miss it because then you’ll be cursing me when you end up in Lyme.

You see Dogford Road is a five mile loop with two entrances on Hanover Center Road.  Plenty of times I’ve had a UPS driver or someone mutter under their breath about driving the long way around.  Hey, at least its a scenic trip past beautiful farms and woods!

Back to Downtown Metropolitan Etna, what’s there you might ask?  Why gives it such a lofty nickname.  Well long before Hanover, NH became such a bustling little village with all of its stores, restaurants and Dartmouth College, Hanover Center was the center of town.

Hanover Center today is just a big white church, a green where they have Oxen pulls and charity auctions and an old car parade each summer at Founder’s Day, a cemetery and bunch of nice old houses around the green.  In other words a whole lot of nothing.

Etna Center in contrast is the big city.  It sports a post office inside the old school house, a branch of the Hanover library and a general store where you can get anything from a hot lunch, coffee, beer, sandwiches and even video rentals.   There is also a B&B and some beautiful houses.

Etna Center also boasts a scenic farm complete with a beautiful old barn, cows, chickens and a farm stand in the summer.  You can pick up fresh eggs here and gardeners can buy big old potato bags full of aged cow manure.  I stop by all the time to take pictures of this beautiful spot as you can see here:

DOWNTOWN METRO ETNA GALLERY

 

ETNA FACTOIDS:

Etna, originally named “Mill Village”, is a small unincorporated community within the town of Hanover, New Hampshire, in the United States. It is located in southwestern Grafton County, approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Hanover’s downtown and 2.5 mi (4.0 km) south of the village of Hanover Center, on Mink Brook. Etna has a separate ZIP code (03750) from the rest of Hanover, as well as its own fire station, church, and library.

Commerce revolves around the Etna General Store and the Etna Post Office for the 814 residents and occasional visitor in what a small blue-and-white sign in a yard along the main road humorously calls “Metropolitan Downtown Etna”. The Appalachian Trail passes a mile or so north of the village before it turns northeast to cross Moose Mountain on its way to Lyme. Etna can be accessed from NH Rt. 120 via the Greensboro Road or Great Hollow Road (Etna Road, north of the Lebanon exit from Interstate 89), or from Hanover via Trescott Road (E. Wheelock Street).

Etna was the site of the 2001 murders of Dartmouth College professors Half and Susanne Zantop, dubbed the Dartmouth Murders.

Every summer, the village holds the Old Timer’s fair on the Hanover Center green, 2 miles (3 km) north of the center of Etna. For many years, Dave Laware, former operator of the Etna General Store, organized a parade consisting of local residents riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles (along with the Etna Fire Department trucks and other colorful vehicles), with their children riding behind them scattering candy to the crowd. The legend “Etna General Store – Warm Beer, Lousy Food, Poor Attitudes” appeared on shirts worn by all of the riders

Notable Residents include C. Everett Koop, 13th U.S. Surgeon General,  Jodi Picoult, author (My Sister’s KeeperThe Pact, and Nineteen Minutes), Mary Roach, non-fiction author, Edward Fielding fine art photographer, author The Last Resort photographs of Maui.

A visit to Mt. Cube Maple Sugar Farm

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There are a few things one must pack in the car before heading out on a photo adventure in the Upper Valley on the border of New Hampshire and Vermont along the Connecticut River Valley in  the days following a winter snow storm. Obviously, cameras, lens, extra batteries, tripod and such but beyond the photography equipment one must consider the possibility of being stuck in some remote corner of New England.

So before setting out I checked the gas (quarter tank, hmmm that will be cutting it close), tossed a bag of water softener salt in the back of the four wheel drive Subaru Forester, threw in some snacks and a water bottle and some traction pads.  And last but not least some money for buying maple syrup should the need arise.  There are not a lot of places to pull over on the country roads in this area so it pays to be prepared.

My purchase for the weekend to use up some of that maple syrup!

My purchase for the weekend to use up some of that maple syrup!

I didn’t have a lot of shots planned out other then snapping some shots of the ice fishing shanties on the frozen lakes.   These little temporary winter towns that dot the frozen lakes in the region are always intriguing.  Other then that I went to explore.

Eventually I found my way to the Mt. Cube Maple Sugar Farm in Orford, New Hampshire.  I pulled in to the little gift shop that was open with the “honor system” and I picked out some pancake mix.  My wife would kill me if I brought back any more maple syrup.  We still have tons left from last year when I started my series of photos of the traditional maple sugar operations that keep the local farmers busy in the late winter.

For those city slicker who don’t understand the concept of the honor system in a store, here in the country products are often sold in farm stands and roadside stores with just signs and a cash box.  If you need change you make it right there.  It works out for the most part.  Every once in a while some jerk rips off the cash box but its rare.

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While I was sticking a fiver into the box, the caretaker stopped by to see if I needed any help.  Seeing I was interested in the operation Jimmy offered to show me around.  The season hasn’t started yet but the new equipment in the main sugar house was impressive.  Probably the largest evaporator systems I’ve seen thus far in my exploration of the industry.

Jimmy who lives on the property in a trailer next to the sugar house gave a bit of history about the farm on the slopes of Mt. Cube.  At one time one of the governors of New Hampshire owned the property and they have over 1,000 acres.  The sap is collected by a vacuum system from plastic piping tapped into individual trees and then into larger collection pipes that actually run under ground.  The watery sap is then collected in an old tanker truck.  From there its brought into a very modern reverse osmosis filtering system to draw off excess water before going on to the huge oil fired evaporator where more water is steamed out of the sap and it is boiled down to sugary sweet syrup.

A very impressive operation indeed.  Open house is a few weeks away when the sugar houses throw open their doors to the public.  But like any proud craftsman, Jimmy said he is happy to show off the operation anytime.

Mt. Cube Farm - Jimmy inside the old sugar house

Mt. Cube Farm – Jimmy inside the old sugar house

He also gave me a look at the old sugar house from the days of metal buckets and wood fired evaporators.  While the present day Mt, Cube Farm has a state of the art system for tapping, collecting and processing maple tree sap into sweet sugary syrup the old shack is basically for the tourists.  This old sugar shack was pulled out of the woods and installed in front of the store as a showcase for how things used to be done with wood fired evaporators.

My photographs of the New England traditional maple sugar operations is art of an ongoing series on maple syrup production in New England by fine art photographer Edward M. Fielding.

Four images from this series will be show at the March photography show at the Gallery W at the Whitney museum in Pittsfield, MA.

Images from this series are also available for purchase from my Fine Art America Gallery.