This Thing Called Courage

Monday, April 04, 2011

Finding Indian Rock

"The address," my dear friend Vonn said, "is 33 Indian Rock Road." He was speaking of a Pilates and Yoga studio in the town where he lives (with his partner Barry), in the hopes that when the current yoga class Vonn and I are taking (in Medford, close to where I live) runs its course, we could take yoga closer to where he lives. But the name of that street abducted the topic of conversation at hand.
"Indian Rock Road?" I asked. "Why do they call Route 111, home of the strip mall, Indian Rock Road? In tribute? In mockery? Is it an ironic gesture, which is what most architecture and literature has been reduced to nowadays?"
"No," said Vonn in his matter of fact way. "That's the original name of the street. Before it was designated New Hampshire Route 111." Vonn comes from western Maryland in Appalachia. He ran away from home to join, not the circus, but the Navy, which he left 16 years ago. I met him shortly after he came to Boston. He's a very unusual, and a very wonderful, person.
"Oh. So, why Indian Rock Road?" There is Native American blood in the family way back, and I've always been fascinated by things Native American, especially now when I've been exposed to different elements of it with the drumming I do throughout New England.
"I guess somewhere back there in the hills there's a rock with Indian hieroglyphics painted on it," he answered.
"There is?"
"Yes." Now, who could ever resist something like this? Sounding for all the world like like the opening of a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys mystery. Further inquiries revealed that Vonn, who is pretty much a homebody when he isn't visiting Clothing Optional Resorts half a world away, had never sought said Indian Rock and couldn't say exactly where it was, except for a rather broad sweep of his hand as we rode by the hills sloping up precipitously across from Cobetts Pond.

Vonn and I occasionally work out together, and also I go to see him most every Saturday, for a long hike on the wonderfully bucolic Windham Bike Trail, which runs through unspoiled conservation area; I also do my laundry up there while I'm at it. This was a recent Saturday, when this conversation took place, apres hike, and me still itchy and restless (I quit smoking two months ago and must keep busy constantly, to the annoyance of my intimates).
"While I'm out," I said, heading out the door in search of dog food for Fionn (Woof It Down dog food store, voted the Best in New Hampshire, is right down the street from Vonn) "see if you can find out where Indian Rock is from the web," I asked. "And then call me." Thirty minutes later Vonn reported that there was a reference to a map, and the legend for the map said that Indian Rock was located in 'Grid 17' on the map-- but the map itself was located at the Windham Public Library. So after a brief but unfruitful reconnaissance of the lower end of Route 111 (aka Indian Rock Road) to the library we did go. Despite it being a modern, newly constructed building, we found the Nesmith Library (as its called) nevertheless replete with that wonderful library smell of, 'Books, books, books!' as Scarlett O'Hara said, when she was complaining about the well-read Wilkes family. There was that sibilant hush too, and a cadre of smiling women of a certain age fussing and clucking behind the front desk, or floating solo like bespectacled owls through the stacks and along the thickly-carpeted floors-- because, after all, this was suburbia-- no old creaky wooden floors here, thank you.


Blogger BiscuitsBoy said...

Something went awty with this post and the second part of it has gone missing-- please see April 7 post for that part.

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