"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New England Contra Dance: Peterborough, NH

OK, here it is: a piece of real New England. The contra dance. Readers may recall that Rick and I try to find contra dances wherever we go, but contra dance originated in New England, and the tradition remains the strongest here. One of the most beautiful dance halls in the country is in the Town House of Peterborough, NH.  Town meeting houses are another NE tradition - a multi purpose building in the center of town, used mostly as church and meeting house. In some towns contra dances are held there as well.

The musicians for the evening were Jeremiah McLane and Ethan Hazzard-Watkins. We were familiar with Jeremiah MaClane from one of his earlier albums that we listen to a lot: Smile When You're Ready. One of the things that makes contra dancing so wonderful is the traditional live music, that often builds to a driving beat that keeps the dancing strong and exciting.

Even though there were only two of them, they created a hall full of good music and happy dancers. 

Peterborough has this great balcony at one end of the hall; a nice place to take a break, although it gets pretty hot in the summer.

The floor is particularly smooth and the dancers are particularly good. Many, like us, have been dancing for decades. The bouncy and bold youngsters (of which there were a few) may find us kind of a drag, but experienced and calm dancers create a cohesive flow to the dance that we have missed as we travel and visit other dances.   

Ahhh, it felt good to be back.

The biggest excitement of the evening though was a close encounter with a HUGE bull moose on the road back to The Greenfield Inn Bed and Breakfast, in Greenfield, NH.  He was just mozying along in the dark, crossing the road,  heedless of us. We missed his nose by just a few feet as he eased toward the center line and we swerved by him on the right. Lucky for all of us. 

Greenfield is a very small and quaint town, with quite a few stone walls and classic old NE homes, both large...

and small. Typically the houses are clapboard and painted white, and many have L's that house the kitchens, and barns nearby. Many older ones are cape style (below), some are saltboxes, and I don't know the architectural style of the others, like the one above.

In the center of town is a cemetery...

and a town meeting house, like in Peterborough, only not as grand. This one is the oldest original and continuously used town house in New Hampshire, built in 1795. This one is actually much more typical, as there are many very small towns with small churches/town meeting houses like this one. Peterborough's is unusually grand.

Well, I think this about does it for New Hampshire. In a couple of days we'll be heading back to Vermont to pick up sweet Kona, and to Massachusetts to pick up our home. Although it has been really nice to have a vacation (the overnight at the Greenfield Inn) from our vacation (three weeks at the Nordic Inn in Lincoln) from our vacation (RV full timing), we are looking forward to being "home"  again. Home, by the way, will be in our RV in Brattleboro, Vermont for the next month. See you there.

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