Rail Trail. Baltic. Enfield NH

The old Baltic Woolen Mill, Enfield NH

I walk because I write. Writing means sitting. Writing about art might allow for some standing around in art galleries and museums but that is not the sort of exercise that cardiologists recommend. Hence my love for the Northern Rail Trail.

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Of all of the segments my husband and I have covered, Enfield-toward-Canaan is one of our favorites. The entry is easy to find, across from Enfield's newest restaurant in the Copeland Block, 56 Bar and Grill, and right next to the village laundromat. Parking is free and there are bike racks.

Tunnel at entrance to the Rail Trail, Enfield NH

Every section of the Rail Trail offers different scenery. This route will take you past the old and decrepitly picturesque Baltic Woolen Mill. Smashed windows, a family of goats who live there, an occasional human with a fishing pole and a line in the water. (For a postcard picture of it in its pre-dowager youthful beauty, click here.) Since it was a mill, there's a waterfall that's pretty for the eyes and soothing on the ears.

You'll always know where you are. Restored markers on the trail will tell you, just as they used to inform train passengers, how many miles to Boston on one side, and how many to White River Junction on the other. There is a sign or two illustrating--in cartoon form--correct trail behavior (stay to the right, clean up after your dog), designed by Ken and Patti Warren of Lebanon NH. Another sign points you in the direction of Mickey's Cafe, as fine a place to stop for lunch as the Upper Valley has to offer. Good seafood stew.

Go to the Northern Rail Trail's website (see link above) for general information and to learn how to adopt a mile marker.

Wandering back from Mickey's through the village to the trail parking lot, Enfield's revitalization efforts are in plain view. Benches, flowers, and best of all, historic plaques that tell the village's story, like one identifying the location of The Enfield Advocate, newspaper of record from 1894-1946. The Enfield Town Library, currently in the middle of a new building project, offers summer reading programs for kids and adults, and is hosting a book sale on June 25th. It shares a vintage Victorian with the Shaker Bridge Theatre, which, in season, produces thought-provoking plays in an intimate setting.

I am about to finish this post, which means that I have been sitting, again, and for some time. I will leave you with this thought from Everybody's Fool, by Richard Russo, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who writes about towns with old mills; he really ought to see the Baltic and set his next novel in Enfield. There's a scene in the book where Charice, a police dispatcher, begs her boss, Raymer, to get her out from behind a desk. He asks why. She responds by inquiring if he has ever seen the tattoo on her rear end. When he says no, she says, "Butterfly. Tiny little thing. If you don't let me out from behind this switchboard, it's gonna be a pterodactyl by the time I'm forty."

I'm past forty and without tattoos, but the principle's the same. Maybe I will see you on the Rail Trail, and soon. 

View of bridge and village from Rail Trail entrance parking lot


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