Monday, October 23, 2006

Wednesday 20th September: A friendly warning from the local police!

Sawyer Crossing / Cresson Bridge, Swanzey 20.9.06 midday
8" x 10" pencil and coloured pencil in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

On the Tuesday evening, after drawing art cards of apples on Monday night, Nicole and I then drew pears. An account of the fascinating experience of drawing the same subject next to one another on the same support - with different results - is set out in New Hampshire Pears on my other blog.

Then on Wednesday morning, after a good look round the delights of Keene with Nicole and Lizzie (and a visit to yet another art shop which unfortunately is closing down its art materials section) I left Keene to drive to the coast of Maine.

However I decided that before I left New Hampshire that I should try and visit at least one of the covered bridges in the area. There's a whole bunch of them just south of Keene round about the Swanzey area.

Sawyer Crossing or Cresson Covered Bridge in Swanzey was built in 1859 or so it says on the sign on the entrance to the bridge. According to the New Hampshire Covered Bridges website the 1859 covered bridge in fact replaced the original bridge built in 1771 and is situated near the site of an old Indian community.

This is what Cresson Bridge looks like from the side. People started to cover bridges to protect truss work and planking from harsh weather in the early nineteenth century. Most bridges were built by local people and consequently had design features local to that area. You can find out more about covered bridges and covered bridge societies in the north east of the USA/New England on the Covered bridge website and the National Society for the Preservation of Bridges.

Now for the story behind the title for this post! I parked my car in a small car park off to the left of the bridge and then did my usual "walk around / look at a subject from every angle / decide what is the best composition" study prior to starting the sketch. I finally settled on a head on shot which gave me good contrast between the darkness inside the covered area and the light on the far side - plus a few sightlines to help the eye travel through the picture. This was possible because the road bent round just before the bridge and had a stop line (so cars could check whether anything was coming through the bridge before proceeding) and I could sit on the grass at the side of the road next to the stop line. Very few cars passed so I felt very safe.

Part way through the sketch another car pulled up in the car park, a lot of teenage boys got out, pulled up the hood (I'm really getting into the 'local' language!) and started playing music very loudly - which, as you can imagine, I was just ecstatic about given my nice peaceful spot. When I realised that they were playing some very aggressive rap music - which made nasty comments about women - I started to get quite concerned but stayed sitting where I was. Then a car zoomed through the bridge very fast with one of those "I've got a bigger more powerful engine than you have" noises. So parked car packed up very fast and I then had 5-10 minutes of cars driven by youngsters zooming through the bridge backwards and forwards very fast. Well I was nearly finished and there was no way I was moving - so I continued to sit there.

Five minutes later - just as I was finishing a police car pulled up. I guess one of the houses in the neighbourhood had alerted them to the silly and noisy antics of the juveniles and they were checking it out. A policeman hung out the window and said "Nice drawing - but it's not very safe sitting where you are" (which I guessed referred to the antics of the boy racers). I think I told him that I kept an eye on cars coming towards me and just stared straight at the face of any driver going too fast!

On the drive across to Maine (Route 101 then I-95), I stopped to take a few photos of trees which were on the turn. These were taken from the side Route 101 across Dublin Pond with Mount Monadnock in the background. The latter is reputedly one of the most climbed mountains in the USA - or the world depending on the perspective of the website author!

I wish I could remember what was the name of the small store I stopped at to pick up some lunch - it had great sandwiches and some really 'knock your socks off' wasabi peas - which I decided that, along with yoghurt covered cranberries, were my "snack of choice" for munching on long drives in New England. I don't suppose they did anything for my waistline though!

  • Sawyer or Cresson Covered Bridge, Swanzey, New Hampshire
  • New Hampshire Covered Bridges
  • Covered Bridges of the Northeast USA
  • National Society for the Preservation of Bridges
  • Mount Monadnock State Park

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