The New Hampshire mountains are lush in summer, bathed in light, cool, with their green and blue pines, birch and maple trees serenely standing sentinel until they fade into black against the setting sun.
My cousin Fern King Meyers lives in these mountains, in a large house in Etna, near Hanover, surrounded by 23 acres of meadowland, some left wild, some cultivated with well-placed and well-tended gardens. Wild roses and hydrangea are plentiful. For some reason the Russian popular anthem runs through my head as I sit silently and absorb the beauty and spirit of the place where Indians lived until the English brought their homeland to the wilderness.
I visited a few weeks ago. Fern’s husband, Dr. Bob Meyers, had recently died after a long and painful struggle with Parkinson’s disease and the complications of a broken hip. His family and friends gathered at his home, under a lyrical white tent, on 6 August to remember him, a wonderful.man who loved history, art and music as much as he loved his own field of medicine. That's why the memorial service included two flutists playing his favorite music, poetry readings from Robert Frost, readings from Ecclesiastics ("To Everything there is a Season"), remembrances from his children, the loving display of artifacts (including a red toy VW) by his wife Fern, and the reading of Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address ("With malice toward None"), by cousin Ron King. Bob was a Renaissance man, pretty rare in these times, in the digital age.
Fern and I spent time together, remembering and savoring the moment. We enjoyed a lunch at Simon Pearce, her and Bob's favorite restaurant in nearby Quechee, Vermont, next to a waterfalls; spent time in Woodstock, once Bob and Fern's home and one of my favorite NH towns. We stopped along the way to admire the mountains and meadows, the Quechee gorge, the historic Billings Farm and Museum. We visited the King-Meyer burial ground, and also the new Nan and Alan King Bird Sanctuary, established in Etna behind the old Library, down the road from Fern's house and the land preserved and conserved by the King family, in memory of Fern’s, Ron’s and Maribeth’s mom and dad.
After the memorial gathering, Fern and I drove to the ocean and spent a few wonder-filled days in Rockport and Gloucester, MA, on Cape Ann, north of Boston. Rockport, and nearby Rocky Neck, are art-filled seaside paradises, and Gloucester is the old fishing village where “The Perfect Storm” was filmed. Signs of George Clooney and cast are here and there among the artist studios, gift shops, and seafood restaurants. We walked along a beach, gathered a few shells, and found even more shells at a shop once featured in Vogue magazine. The proud owner regaled us with the story.
The mountains and the ocean. What better places to rejuvenate and reminisce, to fill our senses, absorb the sights, smells, sounds, and to glory in sunrises, sunsets, and full moon rises?
We are blessed with the beauty of the earth, and we sang the old anthem at Bob’s memorial gathering in the mountains.
For the Beauty of the Earth (1838)
For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the sky,
For the love which from our birth, over and around us lies,
Lord of all to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.