People who know me personally, know that I’ve worn a particular necklace for at least the last10 years (who can keep any more accurate time than that when you have six kids.) Marc got it as an anniversary gift from our “favorite jeweler” Fran Cooke (he’s made a few pieces for us over the years.) and it depicts New Hampshire’s famous rock formation called the “Old Man of the Mountain.”
The Old Man was famous largely because of statesman Daniel Webster, a New Hampshire native, who once wrote: “Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men.”
Men, men, men, men (and a few women to boot.)
In May 2003 everyone woke up to the news that the formation consisting of five separate granite ledges had collapsed sometime during the night. It appeared that the old man was no more. We all grieved. Like babies.
But, in truth, for those of us with ties to New Hampshire, the old man will never really be gone. He’s on our state quarter (and on my etsy earrings made out of state quarters), and our (now extinct) toll coins. You can still buy souvenirs with his profile on them, and, of course, I wear him around my neck. The Old Man’s presence is with me at all times.
I wear this necklace because it is so uniquely New Hampshire. We are called the “granite staters” – a proud and “rock hard” group of people with enough strength to make it through our tough winters and our, at times, never-ending (state bird) black fly seasons. Although tough as granite we also have the Yankee ingenuity to figure out ways to eat maple syrup on more than just pancakes (Maple chicken glaze anyone?). And of course, we all have the patience of Job when it comes to the primary season in New Hampshire and all those many (many) late night political phone calls.
I find myself reaching up to touch my necklace several times a day – a talisman which comforts by reminding me of the power of silent strength.
A few days ago, the clasp on my necklace broke. Fortunately it broke when I was in bed and I was able to find the pendant and chain. I put both pieces on the mantel with the intent that I’d bring the necklace to a jeweler “when I had the chance.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached for my “Old Man” only to feel nothing. It’s unsettling. It’s wrong. It just doesn’t feel right. Apparently I called on the Old Man’s wisdom much more than I was aware of.
Yesterday I took the necklace to a local jeweler and he replaced and soldered on a new clasp. The Old Man is back around my neck where he belongs, reminding me of my roots and lending me rock-solid strength and calm when I need it. I have a feeling the Old Man’s presence will be with this granite stater always.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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