COVID-19 UPDATE: The Harris Center building will be closed to visitors until further notice. Our trails and grounds remain open.
A Meander Down Memory Lane
What’s your favorite Harris Center memory? Maybe it’s a sunrise paddle at Spoonwood Pond or a game of “Bobcat” at summer camp. Perhaps it’s the first time you held a salamander in your hands or watched a kettle of hawks stream past the summit of Skatutakee. Whatever the memory, we want to hear it! During our 50th Anniversary Year, we’ll share as many of your stories as we can.
Please limit your recollections to 100 words or less, feel free to send along a photo or two, and remember to tell us your name. Keep in mind that we may share your photo and story, with credit to you, in Harris Center social media, print publications, or right here on our website – which we’ll update throughout the year. Thanks for the memories…
Stories You’ve Shared
Thriving as a Forester
I recently retired after 40 years of helping landowners care for their land as a forester with UNH Cooperative Extension. My first Extension position was as “the cordwood forester” in Hillsborough County. It was the days of the “energy crisis” and people were rediscovering wood heat — including the Harris Center.
My retirement and the Harris Center’s 50th Anniversary sent me down memory lane and prompted me to look in my yellowed 1979 calendar book. Not even a full month on the job, I visited the Harris Center for a “demonstration woodlot debut.” This field session for the public hoped to help people learn how to “achieve a sustained yield of fuel wood without impairing the lot’s other values as a timber producer and as wildlife habitat.”
The 15-acre plot was at the Hunt’s Pond Road end of King’s Highway. Before the year was out, I met with Tim Baybutt, the Harris Center’s forester and also a UNH Forestry classmate of mine, to mark trees to cut in a thinning designed to give the remaining trees the room they needed to grow. Today, I drive by that plot often and the trees look thrifty. I like to think that early thinning had something to do with their current vigor. I know that my early and continued contact with the Harris Center helped me thrive as a forester.
— Karen Bennett, Harris Center Trustee
In the Winter Woods with John Kulish
In the winter of 1979, my brother and I participated in a winter survival trip sponsored by the Harris Center and led by John Kulish. After leading a group of us an hour or so into the woods, Mr. Kulish instructed us on the building of a lean-to and setting up our camp. The temperature was well below 0° F with it getting down to -21° F during the night. It was the warmest night camping in the wintertime I have ever experienced. I was merely 15 years old and will never forget that trip.
— Jim Adams
Watching One of Nature’s Secrets Firsthand
It was very early spring in Stoddard. The snow had just melted and we were dissecting rotting logs in the woods to study decomposition. One of the kids called me over. I was expecting something quite typical like a giant earthworm or a group of ants. Instead, there was a very large bald-faced hornet lying just below the leaf litter. It looked dead, but upon closer inspection its abdomen was moving — in and out — quite slowly. It was breathing! These insects “hibernate” in the winter, and soon, when it was warm enough, this female would be emerging to lay eggs and start a colony. It was the first time I’d seen an overwintering hornet, and it was like watching one of nature’s secrets firsthand. We watched for as long as we could, the kids carefully covered her back up, and left her to “wake up” when she was ready.
— Jenna Spear, Harris Center Teacher-Naturalist
Never Underestimate the Power of the Pileated Woodpecker
Two special memories come to mind:
A beautiful Willard-to-Robb Harris Center hike over ice and snow on a bitterly cold winter’s day.
and . . .
A call to the Harris Center to let us know that a Pileated Woodpecker had so heavily compromised a local tree that the caller worried it would fall on the power lines. Meade advised: “not for another hundred years…” The next day, all of Hancock was without power – the ‘holey’ tree had taken out the wires.
— Diana Jacobs, Harris Center Donor Coordinator
Hawkwatching & Hearing Loss
For a couple of decades, the Harris Center’s annual hawk watch took place on Crotched Mountain’s Blueberry Ridge.
In 1995, I convinced local radio and TV celebrity Fritz Wetherbee to bring his camera crew up to the ridge for an episode of New Hampshire Crossroads. Back in those days, TV cameras were more than a handful, and fingers were crossed as they were lugged up to the ridgetop. Low and behold, just as the cameras were ready to roll, 1000+ hawks — mostly Broad-wingeds— streamed right over us! That episode was aired many times over the next few years, and often viewers didn’t realize they were watching history rather than the current affairs….
About a decade later, during a lull in the hawkwatching, I decided to cut down some of the ever-growing saplings that were springing up and obscuring the view. So I removed my hearing aid, put it in my Harris Center hat, and plunged into the brush with a handsaw. When I returned to the watch, I donned my cap, forgetting about the hearing aid, and in the process flipped the hearing aid out into the grassy area where all the watchers were gathered.
Later, realizing what had happened, I called around to borrow a metal detector. My wife Sandy and I went back to the ridge to look, but soon realized that there is so little metal in a tiny hearing aid nowadays that the search was futile.
Months went by while I agonized about whether and when to invest in a new one. Then I got a call from Noel, my audiologist. The hearing aid had surfaced — in Manchester! It seems some elderly person up there for the hawk watch had found the hearing aid and put it in the pocket of her coat. Some time later, the coat was donated to the Veterans’ Administration in Manchester. Staff there had found the hearing aid; however, none of their clients were missing one. But the hearing aid had a serial number, and that allowed it to be tracked back to Noel. Boy, was I glad when she called, as it saved me several thousand dollars!
— Meade Cadot, Harris Center Naturalist Emeritus