Tuesday, September 22, 2020

I Fall for Autumn: Summer Leaves, Autumn Leaves

Today is the first day of autumn as my homonyms imply. Please visit our seasonal display near the Conway Public Library's entrance and let it lead you around the building as you fall into autumn.

The days will continue to get shorter until the winter solstice. It was 35 degrees this morning when I got in the car. Today's forecast was for a high of 63 degrees. Autumn colors are starting to show well especially on the edges of the wetlands. 

Today we pick apples and wander through corn fields just for fun. 


Then and now we craft corn husk dolls and celebrate the season with symbolic plants. 

We can purchase plastic shrink wrapped bales of straw for decorations. However, it was not that long ago that the "art of the harvest" was critical to survival.

These "stooked" stalks can be found on Conway's West Side Road.


Today many of us don't even know the difference between straw and hay, nor the intricacies of intriguing obsolete farming terminology such as sheaves, shocks, stooks, cocks and so on. For more on that see our previous blog here

The image on the left here is of a "scutching bee." Here is a larger image of the scene.


For more information on this traditional event see this link

The item with the sharp pointed spikes is called a hetchel or hackle. For more on this item, see our previous blog here on "growing clothes." 

There is also seasonal display of food related books at the library with titles such as root cellaring, putting food by, pickle, and can it that teach how the fruits of the fall harvest can be preserved using traditional methods that date back hundreds or even thousands of years.

We also have many cook books that describe how to make the most of the cornucopia of fall produce. 

Jeremy Belknap's History of New Hampshire lists some of the 18th century meals our early settler's enjoyed such as  samp, hominy, nokehike, succotash and upaquontop. He acknowledges the contribution of Native Americans to this cuisine and reports that "The lip of a moose, and the tail of a beaver, prepared in this manner, were among their greatest luxuries."

For more on this or any other local historical topic contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.


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