Miles to Date: 503
May 13, 2015 – Partly cloudy, 65 degrees
Her hardest hue to hold.
Alas, Robert Frost’s words proved true overnight. The budding trees that stood along the side of the road in Maine are flush with leaves; still small, yet soft green and distinctly shaped. Spring is on the move, the earth pulses with energy.
I started the day as a fly on the wall in a local convenience store, devouring an egg and bacon sandwich and coffee cake muffin while locals filtered in, bought their coffee and cigarettes and shot the breeze with the two proprietors, who knew everyone by name and their order preferences without asking. One guy bought three packs and said he was heading for New York. “Be careful not to sell any singles there. They shoot people there for that.” Like all good jokes, the reference to Eric Garner got s laugh, even as it stung. A few miles down the road I passed a Dunkin’ Donuts with a line of cars in the drive-through. The price of getting our coffee without getting out of our vehicle is human distance.
A morning mist turned into passing clouds and then sun, Brilliant rays streamed through the forest as I headed west on a series of lightly travelled roads. Outside Ossipee I stopped by a covered bridge under construction and got a lesson in timber frame restoration. Sandwich is a picturesque village where every building is classic white. The lakes were pristine; a few fishermen braved the cold water.
After lunch at a sandwich shop along Squam Lake, I headed north, through the cool college town of Plymouth. I had reservations to stay at D Acres, an organic demonstration farm and hostel in Dorchester, the next town over. Turning west on the Tenney Mountain Highway the entire scale of my day went skew. Suddenly, I was on a busy road with wide shoulders and the usual assortment of big box stores. Since there were no major towns behind me, and none ahead, I was baffled where all these people and cars came from. But we are bees to honey when it comes to shopping, and for a few miles I was on a shopping strip as busy as any despite being in rural New Hampshire.
Eventually the stores ended, but the road kept on, and on, and on. My GPS directions were off and the headwind was not my friend. After much longer than I anticipated, I took Route 118 south and climbed to D Acres, a fascinating hybrid of counter-culture agriculture and funky retreat. The main house is full of gorgeously detailed rooms and fine crafted furnishings. The double-headed shower room with integral seat and glass blocks is opulent as any spa. Balance that with the composting toilets and hand painted agricultural and political slogans on the walls. Joshua Trought, the titular owner and main farmer, wrote a book about the place, The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm.
D Acres can accommodate up to 100 guests, but was pretty empty this early in spring. A dozen or so staff and visitors shared dinner, an incredible buffet of beef ragout, diced potatoes, parsnips, greens with tahini, and rice with mushrooms and nettles. All I could eat for $12.
Its turkey-hunting season in New Hampshire, and wild turkeys are as rampant around D Acres as they have become in Cambridge. Josh and his crew shot four in and around the property today. After dinner they defeathered, scalded, and gutted the birds prior to freezing. Anything that a half dozen people do together can turn into fun, and I got a very hands-on look at life on a community farm, though I did not stick my mitts in the mix.