Ruth Doan MacDougall: "Ruth's Neighborhood"

Ruth Doan MacDougall's Neighborhood photo

Current Facebook Columns

October - (December), 2022


October 16, 2022

                   When I took the October issue of Down East magazine out of the mailbox and saw the “Autumn in Camden” photo on the cover, I thought: it’s gotta be Mount Battie, the view from Mount Battie’s summit!
                  In Henrietta Snow, Snowy and Bev meet Puddles in Camden, Maine, in 1988 and drive (not hike!) to the summit:

“The round stone tower with arched entrances was being thoroughly enjoyed by the tourists, but when Bev and Puddles walked toward it, Snowy veered off to a plaque set in a stone. Holding her breath, she read the opening lines of ‘Renascence’ about these mountains and this bay. Beneath the excerpt she read: ‘At the age of eighteen, a frail girl with flaming red hair left her home in early morning to climb her favorite Camden Hills, where, deeply affected by her surroundings, she wrote “Renascence.” The poem received immediate public acclaim and was the inspired beginning of the career of America’s finest lyric poet.’” This was, of course, Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Looking at the Down East cover photo, I recited those deceptively simple first lines:
                  All I could see from where I stood
                  Was three long mountains and a wood;
                  I turned and looked the other way,                                    
                  And saw three islands in a bay.

                   In the Camden article, editor-in-chief Brian Kevin quotes a line from Edna’s “Death of Autumn” poem: “Oh, Autumn! Autumn!—What is the Spring to me?” He concludes the article: “From the harbors to the hilltops to the rolling pastures, from the vibrant hues of the early season to the rustier tones of its waning days, there is a romance to autumn in the Camden Hills that no place in New England can match.”
                   A fine coincidence: my dear friend Sandy has sent me Christoph Irmscher’s review of The Shores of Bohemia by John Taylor Williams, “a chronique scandaleuse of bad or baddish behavior on the Cape [Cape Cod] during the first half of the 20th century. For it seems that burning the candle at both ends [Edna’s phrase in her ‘First Fig’ poem] was what everyone—writers, artists, architects and activists—did back then, with a vengeance . . . Yet what’s ultimately more interesting than how much these writers and artists partied is how much they got done anyway.” Edna was there, whooping it up.                   
                   In my copy of Celia Thaxter’s Island Garden Daybook, we’re now in her October gardening days on Maine’s Appledore Island amongst the Isles of Shoals:

Round and round the garden rushed a sudden blast,
   Crying, “Autumn! Autumn!” shuddering as it passed.
Dry poppy-head and larkspur-spike shrill whistled in the wind,
   Together whispering, “Autumn! and Winter is behind!”

                   In the September-October issue of Yankee magazine there’s a description of a fair in Maine’s Blue Hill, a town Don and I drove through often. I wish we’d timed our trips to include the Blue Hill Fair: “This ‘down to earth’ fair was the model for the one in E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, and to this day a special tent holds all the animals from the book (which was written in nearby Brooklin). The rides, farm exhibits, and fair foods that Charlotte and Wilbur’s human friends enjoyed are here, along with sheepdog trials that draw competitors from all over.”
                   Thinking about Edna, Celia, and Charlotte in the autumn!

© 2022 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved


October 9, 2022

                It’s Columbus Day Weekend, and in Center Sandwich, NH, that means it’s Sandwich Fair Weekend!
              This year the fair’s brochure says, “The officers and directors of the Sandwich Fair Association extend a warm invitation to visit the 111th Sandwich Fair this Columbus Day Weekend. Our family-friendly environment focuses on New Hampshire’s agricultural roots, particularly the importance of youth involvement in 4-H. Whether you’re here for the animals, exhibits, competitions, rides, games, or delicious fair food, the Sandwich Fair has something for everyone to enjoy!”
              As I’ve mentioned before, when Penny and I were kids our father took us to the Sandwich Fair, and after Don and I moved here in 1976 we went almost every year.  I haven’t gone these past four years, but as I looked at the brochure’s list of events I imagined which ones I’d choose

Antique Auto Show (would there be a 1949 cream-colored Chevy convertible, like Don’s—and like Tom’s in The Cheerleader?)
4-H Dog Show
Hand Milking Demonstration (I was born on a farm but we moved to town when I was three years old, so I don’t remember seeing my father milking cows, but I did see him doing so once at a friend’
s farm, even squirting some milk to a waiting cat)

Woodsmen’s Field Day
The Grand Street Parade (I marched—or hiked—in this parade with the Sandwich Over-the-Hill Hikers)
Oxen and Steer Matched Trained Pairs (my father had a yoke of oxen on the farm and he remembered them fondly; seeing oxen here was the main reason, I think, that he came to the fair)
Sheep Shearing Demonstration

Ox Pulling
Women’s Skillet Toss (! This is a new-ish event, one I haven’t seen)
Gentlemen’s Keg Toss (!! Ditto)

              On the brochure’s map of the fairgrounds I noticed an H for the helicopter rides. I remembered how on one Sandwich Fair Weekend afternoon Don and I had unthinkingly gone for a little hike up through the woods behind our house. In an open spot we sat down on a ledge to relax in the sunny silence and enjoy the view of the autumn mountains—and then came the sight of a helicopter taking off from the fairground and the sound of its roaring right over us. We waved.

© 2022 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved


October 2, 2022

              Last October when I wrote about the 64th reunion of the Laconia High School Class of 1957, our first reunion since our 50th, I concluded:

"The buffet supper featured barbecued salmon, hamburgers, hot dogs. (I chose salmon.) And big platters of cookies. We had a moment of silence for classmates not with us. And Ray [our classmate and host] asked if we’d like to have another reunion here next year. We shouted, ‘Yes!’ and there was rueful joking about time being short.
             I thought of a scene in A Gunthwaite Girl. Snowy is at Hooper’s; she looks at the friends sitting with her in a booth and looks out the window at her hometown . . . ‘a great fondness for it all welled up in her. More than fondness. Yes, love.’”

This year we did have another reunion! On September 24, our 65th reunion was held at the same place, a Laconia convention center owned by Ray. As before, it started at 3 p.m., with dinner at 5, so that we senior citizens wouldn’t have to worry about driving after dark.
              Last year I wrote,
“The convention center was built in the Lakeport section of Laconia on the site of one of the two buildings of Scott & Williams, which had made knitting machinery. My father worked at the main building in Laconia but he’d worked in Lakeport, too. He became the foreman of the heat-treating department . . . As I entered I was reminded of the scene in Henrietta Snow when Snowy and Bev enter the former Trask’s building for their 40th reunion: ‘Snowy looked around, trying to imagine her father working here, day after day, week after week.’”

             This year fourteen classmates came, out of our class of 160. A few brought spouses. We mostly all recognized each other with our gray or white hair; two of us cheerleaders had canes (I was one of them!). Much talk and much laughter.  I remembered our 50th reunion booklet, for which I was asked to do an introduction. I wrote about the last senior-year issue of our school newspaper, the Lakonian, which I’d edited. I quoted that issue’s reminiscences about our senior year and concluded the introduction with: “Sally Smith created the captivating cartoons for the Lakonian our senior year, and for this issue she drew a graduate in cap and gown, clutching a diploma and rushing toward an arrow sign that read: The World. That’s what we did, we of the unique Class of 1957; we all went our various ways in the world, but now, fifty years later, we can turn the arrow around, point it backward, and label it: Do You Remember?”
              So at our tables we reminisced and laughed, and we also updated each other about our present-day doings. From the buffet I again chose salmon, and the array of cookies included Red Velvet! We applauded Ray, who announced we’d have our 66th here next year. Two Sandwich friends had brought me to Laconia, and they picked me up after the dinner. On our way home, I remarked happily on the Lakes Region scenery. And they then took a back-roads detour up-up-up to an outlook entirely new to me: a vast view of Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake, and Lake Waukewan below the mountain ranges. I’d stopped hiking several years ago, but up there the day ended with another reunion, my reunion with hiking, summits, view

Note from Ruth:  "Below are a few photos taken at the reunion, two by me, one by Carol of me. Carol is the redhead in one of the photos, sitting with another cheerleader and another Ruth, Ruthie Brunelle. When we were JVs, Carol and I were co-captains. Memories!)

RDM friends at reunion

RDM at reunion

RDM friends at reunion

© 2022 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved

RDM titles collage

CURRENT ENTRIES (October-December

Edna, Celia, and Charlotte (October 16)
Sandwich Fair Weekend (October 9)
More Reuntions (October 2)

2022 (January-September)

A Pie and a Sandwich (September 25)
Evesham (September 18)
Chawton (September 11)
Winter's Wisdom? (September 4)
Vanity Plates (August 28)
2022 Golden Circle Luncheon
(August 21)
Agatha and Annie (August 14)
National Dog Month (August 7)
The Chef's Triangle (July 31)
Librarians and Libraries (July 24)
Clothes and Cakes (July 17)
Porch Reading (July 10)
Cheesy! (July 3)

The Summer Book (June 23)
Bears & Goats & Motorcycles ...(June 19)
Tuna Fish (June 12)
Laconia (June 5)
More Publishers Weekly Reviews (May 22)
Shopping, Small and Big  (May 15)
Ponds  (May 8)
The Lakes Region (May 1)
TV for Early Birds; An April Poem    (April 24)
Family; Food; Fold-out Sofas (April 17)
Solitary Eaters (April 9)
National Poetry Month (April 3)
Special Places—Popular Cakes(March 27) Neighborhood Parks ( (March 20)
More About Potatoes—and Maine (March 13)
Potatoes (March 6)
Spring Tease (February 27)
Pillows (February 20)
Our Song (February 13)
Undies (February 6)
Laughter  (January 28/30)
A Burns Night  (January 23)
From Keats to Spaghetta Sauce (January 16)
Chowder Recipes  (January 9)
Cheeses and Chowders  (January 2)


The Roaring Twenties (December 26
Christmas Traditions (December 19)
Trail Cameras (December 12)
Cars and Trucks(December 5)
Return? (November 28)
Lipstick (November 20)
Tricks of the Trade (November 12)
A New Dictionary Word (November 7)
A 50th Reunion (October 31) "
Sides to Middle" Again
(October 23)
Pantries and Anchovies (October 1i7)
Fairs and Festivals (October 10)
Reunions  (October 3) A Lull  (September 26)
The Queen and Others (
Sept. 19)
Scones and Gardens (Sept.12)
Best Maine Diner (September 5)
Neighborhood Grocery Store; Neighborhood Café (August 28)
PW Picks of the Week (August 21)
A Goldilocks Morning_and More (August 15)
Desks (August 8)
Sports Bras and Pseudonyms (August 1)
Storybook Foods (July 25)
Rachel Field(July 18)
The Bliss Point  (July 11)
Items of Interest  (July 4)
Motorcycle Week 2021 (June 27)
Seafood, Inland and Seaside  (June 20)
Thrillers to Doughnuts (June 13)
National Trails Day  (June 6)
New Hampshire Language (May 30 )
Books and Squares(May 23)
Gardening in May (May16)
The Familiar (May 9)
Synonyms (May 2)
"Bear!" (April 25)
Blossoms  (April 18)
Lost Kitchen and Found Poetry (April 11)
More About Mud (April 4)
Gilbert and Sullivan (March 28)
St. Patrick's Day 2021 (March 21)
Spring Forward (March 14)
A Blank Page (March 7)
No-Recipe Recipes (February 28)
Libraries and Publishers Weekly (February 21)
Party; Also, Pizza (February 13)
Groundhog Day (February 6)
Jeeps (January 31) Poems and Paper-Whites (January 24) Peanut Butter (January 17)
Last Wednesday  (January 10)
Hoodsies and Animal Crackers  (January 3)


Welcome, 2021December 27
Cornwall at Christmastime( December 20)
 Mount Tripyramid ( December 13) 
New Hampshire Pie ( December 6)   
Frost, Longfellow, and Larkin ( November 29)
Rocking Chairs ( November 22)
Thanksgiving Side Dishes ( November 15)
Election 2000 ( November 8)
Jell-O and Pollyanna ( November 1)
Peyton Place in Maine  (October 25)
Remember the Reader  (October 18)
Sandwich Fairs In Our Past  (October11)
Drought and Doughnuts  (October 4)
Snacks (September 27)
Support Systems, Continuing (September 20)
The 85 Best Things to Do in New England (Sept
Dessert Salads?! (September 6)
Agatha Christie's 100th Anniversary (August 3
Poutine and A Postscript(August 23)
Pandemic Listening and Reading (August 16)
Mobile Businesses (August 9)
Backyard Wildlife (August 2)
Maine Books (July 26)
Garlic (July 19)
Birthday Cakes (July 12)
A Collection of Quotations  (July 5)
Best of New Hampshire (June 28)
Hair (June 21)
Learning (June 14)
Riding and "Broading" Around (June 7)
Sunday Drives, Again (May 31)
The Passion Pit (May 24)
Schedules & Sustenance (May 17)
Doan Sisters Go to a British Supermarket (April
National Poetry Month 2020 (April 12)
Laconia (May 10)
Results (May 3)
Singing (April 26 )
Dining Out (April 19 )
Red Hill (March 29)
An Island Kitchen (March 22)
Pandemic and Poetry (March 15)
Food for Hikes (March 8)
Social Whirl in February (March 1)
Two Audiobooks and a Magazine(February 23)
Books Sandwiched In   (February 9)
Mailboxes February 2)
Ironing (January 26)
The Cup & Crumb  (January 19)
Catalogs  (January 12)
Audiobook Travels  (January 5)


Christmas Weather  (Dec. 29 )
Christmas in the Village  (Dec. 22)
Marion's Christmas Snowball, Again  (Dec. 15)
Phyliss McGinley and Mrs. York  (December 8)
Portsmouth Thanksgiving.  (December 1)
In the Dentist's Waiting Room, Again.  (Nov. 24
Louisa and P.G.  (November 17)
The First Snow  (November 10)
Joy of Cooking  (November 3)
Over-the-Hill Celebration  (October 27)
Pumpkin Regatta  (October 20)
Houseplants, New and Old(October 13)
Pumpkin Spice  (October 6)
Wildlife  (Sept 29)
Shakespeare and George  (Sept 22)
Castles and Country Houses  (Sept 15)
New Hampshire Apple Day  (Sept 8)
Maine Woods and Matchmaking  (Sept 1)
Reunions  (August 25)
Sawyer's Dairy Bar  (August 18)
Old Home Week  (August 11)
Summer Scenes  (August 4)
Maine Foods (July 28)
Out of Reach  (July 21)
This and That, Again  (July 14)
The Lot  (July 7)
Pizza, Past and Present (June 30)
Setting Up Housekeeping (June 23)
Latest Listening and Reading (June 16)
Pinkham Notch (June 9)
A Boyhood in the Weirs (June 2)
The Big Bear (May 26)
It's Radio! (May 19)
Archie (May 12)
Department Stores  (May 5)
Spring Is Here!  (April 28)
Dorothy Parker Poem  (April 21)
National Library Week, 2019  (April 14)
National Poetry Month, 2019  (April 7)
Signs of Spring, 2019 (March 31)
Frost Heaves, Again (March 24)
Latest Reading & Listening (March 17)
Car Inspection (March 10)
Snowy Owls & Chicadees (March 3)
Sandwiches Past and Present (February 23)
Our First Date (February 17) 
Ice Fishing Remembered (February 10)
Home Ec (February 3)
A Rockland Restaurant (January 27)
Kingfisher (January 19)
Mills & Factories (January 13)
Squirrels (January 6)


Clothesline Collapse   (December 2)
Thanksgiving 2018
(November 25)  
(November 18)
A Mouse Milestone (November 11)
Farewell to Our Magee   (November 4)
Sistering (October 28)
Sears (October 21)
Love and Ruin (October 14)
A New Furnace (October 7)
Keene Cuisine September 30)
A Mini-Mini Reunion (September 23)
Support System  (September 16)
Five & Ten  (September 9)
Dining Out Again  (September 2)
Summer Listening (August 26)
Donald K. MacDougall 1936-2018  (August 19)
Update--Don (August 12)
Telling Don (August 5)
Don's Health (July 29)
Seen and Overheard (July 22)
Donald Hall  (July 15)
Fireworks (July 8)
Off Season (July 1)
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (June 24)
2018 Motorcycle Week (June 17)
Springtime Sights (June 10)
Seafood at the Seacoast? (June 3)
Lilacs (May 27)
Going Up Brook, revisited  (May 20)
The Weirs Drive-In Theater  (May 13)
The Green and Yellow Time, (May 6 )
Recipe Box and Notebook (April 29)
Henrietta Snow, Second Printing (April 21)
Miniskirts and Bell-Bottoms (April 14)
The Poor Man's Fertilizer (April 7)
The Galloping Gourmet (April 1)
The Old Country Store (March 25; First  FB entry)

Earlier: :Ruth's Neighborhood
(multiple entries, 2011 - 2017)