If I may be so bold, I’ll venture that the greatest heartbreak of Squam was in having to choose the classes to take on Thursday and Friday. The list of options was stellar, from Cal Patch to Ashley English to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and it took all I had to choose the two classes I wanted to take each day. And then I realized that, no — in fact I could only choose one class per day — and the decision became exponentially harder. Thrifting, then, won out. Treasure hunting and exploring the picturesque region of New England that Squam Lake resides in was how I chose to spend my first day, an excursion curated and led by Christine Chitnis.
The Sandwich Creamery (that is, a creamery in the town called Sandwich, for you out-of-towners) was our first stop, after first fueling up on coffee and friendly banter with some local folks and a bulldog.
Nuzzling the Babydoll sheep outside of the creamery (this guy’s a ram – can you believe it?) was a much-needed affirmation of my post as shepherdess. I felt a surprising pang of sheep-homesickness as I scratched this guy’s nose and ran my fingers through his wooly back. Just the night before, in my “I arrived in one piece” call home, I was bombarded with reports of pig fences not working, a fence charger likely ruined in the rain by my neglect, and report #274 of a lamb getting caught in the (poorly electrified) fence. We’ve been horsing lambs out of the fence pretty regularly in the past month and a half, and my hope of new green pasture ending the tiresome streak was dashed in an instant. I ended that call in a hurry with “I’m sorry for your troubles, but I don’t think I’ll be calling you again for awhile.” Enter the Sandwich Creamery, with its sheep, the calves who nuzzled me tenderly, and the delicious cheese and ice cream pouring forth, and I started wondering if getting a dairy cow for ourselves might be best sooner rather than later.
This, I decided from the evidence presented, is what New England looks like. Cedar and white, crisp and clean. One whole town featured no painted colors save the white. It was a meditation in passing, calm and still and soothing, all the white same-ness, until a later report indicated that the town carried an ordinance requiring strict adherence to the singular color, at which point I became wheezy, felt my collar constricting, and thought the white same-ness suddenly less poetic.
There was a museum with a working farm to tour, charming shops to pop in and out of. Tamworth was the name of the town, and I wondered if it bore any connection to the heritage breed of pig by the same name.
Lunch brought us to The Community School, an inspiring alternative approach to grades 6-12. The venison stroganoff, kale salad, and beet chocolate cake we shared with other members of the community made this hunter’s wife/daughter feel right at home. It was so delicious and satisfying – oh, that it could be the new paradigm for School Lunch!
The omnipresent rain held off its periodic showers until we were safely tucked into the van, it seemed. And while the thrifting proved to be less than stellar, as it is often wont to do, the day was nonetheless full and rich with the explorations we had made. We returned with full bellies, if not full bags. And that was enough.