Last Child in the Woods

Having the grand kids visit while you are at camp in the summer is important on so many levels. It’s good to build family connections and memories of fun times together. In addition, exposing children to nature (woods, water, wildlife) is crucial to the future of our planet. The average American child suffers from a little known syndrome, Nature-Deficit Disorder.

last child in woods

Last Child in the Woods book cover (courtesy of GoodReads)

What a frightening concept: nature-deficit disorder. I remember summer days turning up rocks in the creek to find crawdads, and wandering through woods and pastures under the hot Kansas sun. Because of those experiences and my parents’ interest and encouragement, I care about animals, plants, and the state of the planet.

There’s a concern that children get too little time in nature these days. This results in nature-deficit disorder. Are today’s children missing all the relaxing time exploring nature? If their exposure to nature is television documentaries and carefully orchestrated trips to a petting zoo, will they bond with nature? There’s no question that electronic gadgets occupy too much of their time and has consequences beyond short attention spans and weight gain.


YouTube video on Nature Deficit Disorder and the importance of giving children time in nature.

Nature Deficit Disorder could result in generations who care little for the environment. That would be a truly disastrous situation. Here’s some reading for parents and grandparents about how to ensure children have the opportunity to be lovers of nature.

children water woods pixabay

Children need time and freedom to connect with nature. (photo from Pixabay)

Last Child in the Woods is available from Amazon or from your public library.

I wish parents would soak up the message of this book and take steps to unplug their child and provide regular outdoor time both structured and free time.

How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with NatureHow to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with NatureView DetailsI Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of NatureI Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of NatureView DetailsSharing Nature with Children, 20th Anniversary EditionSharing Nature with Children, 20th Anniversary EditionView DetailsFree-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)View DetailsPlay The Forest School Way: Woodland Games and Crafts for Adventurous KidsPlay The Forest School Way: Woodland Games and Crafts for Adventurous KidsView DetailsBalanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable ChildrenBalanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable ChildrenView Details

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Posted in Visitors

Chickadees – Not Just for Summer

chickadee in NH
During the summer, I hear the black-capped chickadees chattering to each other in the New Hampshire woods. They nest in the birdhouse that we attached to a post that we can see from our cottage.
While building their nest, the pair fly in and out of the birdhouse without rest. Later, while feeding their babies, the parents alternate their arrival and departure carefully. Sometimes one will pause in a nearby tree until the other chickadee leaves the nest. It’s a treat to watch their comings and goings.

If you want to keep your summer memories even after autumn or winter arrives, you can add a chickadee pillow to your decorating. There are even cushion covers that you can update an existing throw pillow for a fresh look in the fall or for the Christmas season.

Decorate with Chickadee Throw Pillows


NicholasArt Black Capped Chickadee Square Throw Pillow CoverNicholasArt Black Capped Chickadee Square Throw Pillow CoverView DetailsChickadee & Pinecone Balsam Fir Pillow embroideredChickadee & Pinecone Balsam Fir Pillow embroideredView DetailsAutumn Chickadee Tapestry Toss Pillow - USAAutumn Chickadee Tapestry Toss Pillow – USAView DetailsCaliTime Throw Pillow Case Shell Chickadees, Pine cones, Tree in WinterCaliTime Throw Pillow Case Shell Chickadees, Pine cones, Tree in WinterView DetailsPoppylife Chickadees Modern Pillow Throw Pillowcase Cushion CoverPoppylife Chickadees Modern Pillow Throw Pillowcase Cushion CoverView DetailsWinter Woodland Chickadee Throw Pillow CaseWinter Woodland Chickadee Throw Pillow CaseView Details

Perk up your sofa, chair or bed with chickadee throw pillows. This cheerful, familiar bird comes in a variety of designs that are great for an autumn or winter theme for a room.

Chickadee throw pillows come in a Christmas theme as well, so get some of each for different seasonal decorating. One of these chickadee throw pillows make a great gift for a bird-loving friend.

Another Fun Video of the Black-Capped Chickadee

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Posted in birds

We Were Not Spoiled: A Franco-American Memoir

When I am in New Hampshire and Maine during the summer, I can’t help noticing how common French surnames are. To learn more about the reasons and the lives of the French-Canadians who settled in New England, I read We Were Not Spoiled: A Franco-American Memoir.

Lucille Ledoux narrates her parents’ story and then her own first 30 years to her son, Denis. He wrote these down and I’m so glad he did.

This memoir gave me insight into the life of my own Franco-American mother-in-law as there were many parallels to her life. Lucille’s parents left Thetford Mines, Quebec to make a life in Lewiston in southern Maine. So many immigrated from Canada in that early part of the century, that French-speaking communities sprang up around the mills where many of them worked.

(cover photo courtesy of Amazon)

Lucille tells stories of her school years and of growing up in a large family. The eldest of 12 children, she had to assume some of the care of the younger ones while she was still a child. It was a hard life, but families helped each other out and times gradually got better.

The story continues into Lucille’s adulthood and her marriage. The time includes the Great Depression and World War II where her husband was away in the war. I found it a most enjoyable read since I love these homespun memories. I wish more people would take the time to collect their parents’ stories and commit them to paper.

(My review also appears on Amazon.)

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Posted in Book

Reading a NH Memoir – Without a Map

I like reading local titles when I’m somewhere like New Hampshire. Maybe you do too, so here’s a suggested title for you: Without a Map: A Memoir. I’ve read many memoirs about difficult childhoods, but the teen years could be tough too.

In Without a Map, Meredith Hall takes the reader through the events and feelings when a teen pregnancy changes her life forever. At 16, she’s thrown out of school, cast out by her mother, shunned by friends and neighbors and forced to give up the baby for adoption. It’s 1965 and her sheltered childhood in a New Hampshire village left her unprepared for finding her way in the world.

At the same time as her life falls apart, the 1960s bring changes and these affect her as well. Her feelings of shame and loss complicate her life and she drifts in and out of relationships and lifestyles while trying to find safe ground. I found it interesting how she found her footing and established a fairly normal life yet always felt the betrayal of her family and friends.

without a map cover amazon

Book Cover

When her son reunites with her as a young adult, she agonizes further over her own betrayal of him when she surrendered him for adoption. She has to come to terms now knowing that his childhood was marred by an abusive adoptive father.

Reading her literate account of these events is sometimes painful, but the flow of language draws the reader on as her life unfolds.

Here’s a YouTube trailer for the book.


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Buyer Beware – Caravan 12 X 12 Magnum Pro Instant Canopy

Some years ago, we had 2 of these canopies that we put up over our bikes and kayaks. When it started pouring, both collapsed from the weight of the water that pooled on the top. Luckily no one was under them at the time.

In New Hampshire in the summer, all the lake and woods camps use shelters like these for outdoor dining areas or for shelter for their woodpiles and gear.

Caravan Canopy 12 by 12 Magnum Pro Instant Canopy

A sudden rainstorm caused these canopies to collapse (made by Caravan)

I contacted the manufacturer and they said they aren’t for use in the rain. When you read the fine print with the setup instructions, it does say that. Basically useless unless you want it for short-term use on a sunny, windless day. Unfortunately, the warning was not displayed on the box that the shelters come in.

Buyers aren’t aware that these are fair-weather canopies at the time they buy them. Because of this incident and the money we wasted on these useless canopies, I’m never buying another canopy with the Caravan brand name on it.


This happened a number of years ago and we’ve never had that problem with other canopies or gazebos that we’ve had. I see that the company has discontinued these. The reviewers on Amazon all reported the same problem with 67% giving it only 1 star, the lowest you can put.



The bent and useless metal pieces from the Caravan canopies. We did save a few metal parts to use as garden stakes, but most just went to recycling. Sigh…


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Lots of Rocks

They have a lot of rocks in NH. I guess that’s why they call it The Granite State. I made this casual comment on Facebook as I shared the photo below. It shows the jumble of granite boulders and rocks of the Lower Falls at the Rocky Gorge Scenic Area. That’s on the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112).


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Photo by Virginia Allain

A friend added the information that “Milford, NH is the Granite Town!”
My sister asked if I picked up the big one for my flower bed. She had some landscaping rocks delivered to her home in Kansas. “It took 3 adults, plus the grandson to help unload it the two truckloads and it was just a small flower bed.” I told her that the area was part of the White Mountain National Forest so I couldn’t take any. I have collected smaller ones around our own place.
She wondered if I used a tool to flip the rocks over before picking them up so I don’t get surprised by a snake. I reassured her that there are hardly any snakes in NH and not poisonous ones as far as I knew.
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Here’s one of my borders that I make with rocks dug from my garden or found on walks.

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Posted in Daytrip, Sightseeing

Canterbury Shaker Village

Cover Picture

If you like experiencing history by walking in the footsteps of long-ago people, you will love Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire. The national historic landmark includes guided tours, a very informative Ken Burns video on the Shakers, and a chance to wander through buildings steeped in Shaker history.

We visited there two years ago and despite a thunderstorm that left us a bit damp, we enjoyed the informative exhibits. It was a marvelous opportunity to see the rooms and buildings looking like the Shakers just stepped out for a few minutes.

There’s a peaceful feeling throughout so pause in each space from the meeting house, the old school, the infirmary, or the work areas to savor what their life was like.

Admission was $17, but I felt it was well worth the price. The video takes 1 hour. There’s a choice of the regular 1-hour tour or the 1 1/2 hour innovators tour which focuses on the inventions of the Shakers. Three of the buildings can only be seen if you take one of the tours.

I’d recommend setting aside a whole afternoon for exploring the village.

You can take a video tour to pique your interest.


All Photos by Virginia Allain 

More about the Canterbury Shaker Village

The Shaker Kitchen: Over 100 Recipes from Canterbury Shaker VillageThe Shaker Kitchen: Over 100 Recipes from Canterbury Shaker VillageView DetailsNeither Plain nor Simple: New Perspectives on the Canterbury ShakersNeither Plain nor Simple: New Perspectives on the Canterbury ShakersView DetailsA Shaker Family Album: Photographs from the Collection of Canterbury Shaker VillageA Shaker Family Album: Photographs from the Collection of Canterbury Shaker VillageView DetailsHistorical New Hampshire Canterbury Shaker VillageHistorical New Hampshire Canterbury Shaker VillageView Details

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Posted in Architecture, Daytrip, History, Sightseeing