Favor Johnson – A Christmas Story


If you blaze through this piece just looking at the pictures and fail to click the link to the audio at the end, you will have missed 95% of the story.

This is the story of three people who lived not far from my Etna, New Hampshire home. Willem Lange, in his earlier days as a contractor, built an addition onto our house. Now in his 80s, he is an writer, storyteller, and TV personality with NH Public TV’s “Windows to the Wild”. A few years ago he moved to the Montpelier, Vermont area.

Will tells a story which is often broadcast around Christmas time of two of his Etna neighbors, Favor Johnson and the “flatlander doctor” who lives on the hill above him, though he does not use their real names. Here is a photo of both their farms on a snowy November 21, 2016. Favor’s house and barn are near the bottom just above the road and trees.  The doctor’s house and barns can be seen in the trees up the hill.

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Here is part of the doctor’s farm on November 6, 2016; Favor’s farm is 400 yards beyond the pond.

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In the audio I hope you will listen to, the “village” is Etna which consists of a Post Office, Library, and small store. The “brook” is Mink Brook which eventually enters the Connecticut River in Hanover. Will mentions Three Mile Road, a dirt road I hike and bike often. It is so named because it is 3 miles from the Connecticut River.

Favor Johnson had a ramshackle farm where he made maple syrup and raised cattle. He has passed away. Doctor Jennings and his wife still farm the land next door raising sheep and selling wool at the Norwich, VT Farmer’s Market. Here are Favor’s home and sugar house as they looked in late October, 2016. You can see the house and barn uphill from the sugar house in the second photo.

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The doctor who bought the land above Favor’s farm also does some sugaring himself. Here is his sugar house in spring when he was inside boiling sap.

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Doctor Jennings gathers his sap the old fashioned way. Here are his buckets in Favor’s side yard. You might be able to see my wife in the background walking along the road.

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I took the photo below late October of this year standing near the doctor’s sugar house. The arrow points to our house which is barely visible. You can see we live in the woods.

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I very much hope you will CLICK HERE and listen to Will telling the story of Favor Johnson. You will be glad you did.

You can buy Will’s illustrated Favor Johnson book HERE. It makes for a wonderful gift for a child. This is a great time to order it. If you click this link you will see the story is set in Vermont, but it happened in Etna, NH.  A disclaimer — Will has no idea that I have written this piece.

Rilla Yawn

This is not another stupid cat video.  It is a silly series of photos of our young cat, Rilla, yawning.

Jann and I and our two cats wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

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North Wilmot Church

Many people love photographing old barns, covered bridges, and churches. Although I rarely go out of my way to photographing these subjects – preferring people, nature, and wildlife – I will certainly take a photo if one jumps in front of my camera.

One church I did travel for is the North Wilmot Church, in the middle of nowhere and rarely used – or so it seems. I was hiking with a companion over beautiful Bog Mountain in snowshoes. He asked if I had ever been to the North Wilmot Church. I couldn’t recall that I had seen it. So I made a point of visiting it the next week. I’m glad I did. It is a beautiful church, and I reached it on a nearly perfect winter day. This photo was used on a magazine cover.

North Wilmot Church in Winter

North Wilmot Church in Winter

I’ve been fortunate to have quite a few of my images used on magazine covers. Here are two tips for those who would like to get their photos on a cover. Shoot vertical and leave some “quiet” space at the top for the name of the magazine. See how easy it is. Of course not all publications need a vertical image, but many photographers seem to mainly shoot horizontals. As I tell my photo students, the best time to shoot a vertical is immediately after you take a horizontal photo. Then you have both.

This summer I hiked from North Wilmot to a small peak in Danbury named Eagles Nest. Since I knew we started the hike near the church, after the hike I drove the half mile to revisit it. Here is how it looks in summer.

North Wilmot Church in Summer

North Wilmot Church in Summer

Click to Enlarge Map

Click to Enlarge Map

The North Wilmot Church is located at the intersection of North Wilmot Road, Piper Pond Road, Tewksbury Road, and Breezy Hill Road. We like a lot of names in New Hampshire. See the map here or search Google.

If you want detailed directions to North Wilmot, they are given in the second and fourth paragraphs of this article on this wonderful and seldom visited part of New Hampshire.

On the way to the North Wilmot Church you can stop and photograph the much more active First Congregational Church of Wilmot with its old carriage sheds in the small but charming village of North Wilmot. This church stands at the end of a row of white buildings that are classic New England. Left to right below — town hall, library, and church. You can see the old horse sheds between the library and church.

North Wilmot

North Wilmot

And here is a photo of the First Congregational Church of Wilmot with just a piece of the horse sheds showing at the far left.

First Congregational Church of Wilmot

First Congregational Church of Wilmot

If you would like to read a bit about the history of these churches, HERE is something written by friend and photo student Kim Gifford.

Foggy Morning Photos November 19, 2016

I got an up close and personal photo of a White-breasted Nuthatch and then noticed the fog in the valley below our hill.

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I wasn’t sure the fog would still be present when I got down into the valley, but I should not have worried.  It stayed for several hours. I enjoy photographing in the fog because it lowers contrast and simplifies many scenes.  Plus when the sun does break through, the combination of sun and fog can be very dramatic.

I headed across the Ledyard Bridge and turned north. Here are a few photos I took in Norwich.

I travelled into Thetford along familiar and unfamiliar roads. Here are photos I took in Thetford.

I found a nice series of rapids along the Pompy that I don’t even recall seeing or photographing before.  Here are photos from a 100 foot stretch of the river. Getting from one end of this section to the other was a bit tricky.

I headed back into Norwich.  Near the spot in the photo below I stared for a long time at an owl on a post in the heavy fog trying to decide if it was real or not. If it was real, it sure held still. In any case the photo would not have been very good.

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There were a considerable number of people and dogs in Huntley Meadow. I got the feeling I had arrived just as a training class had ended.

I headed uphill in Norwich and found the fog was clearing and blue sky was starting to show.

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I was above the fog now. Here is a view of the Moose Mountain range on the eastern side of Hanover across the river.

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I turned around and saw blue sky and the moon.

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But there was still fog below me in Norwich. Here are three photos taken as I headed back into town.

In the afternoon Jann and I took a hike.  It was in the 60s.

Here is what our yard looked like a short time ago.

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