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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Whately Prep Begins

I continue to marvel where my computer takes me. Today, I went on an expedition that started, as usual, with a healthy dose of curiosity. A close friend of mine recently married and relocated to the little hamlet of Hancock, NH. What that has meant to me is that I am harboring a growing and irrational frustration with Hancock’s isolation. My friend and I have a habit of at least fifteen years; we talk on our mobile phones between soccer games, dance lessons, grocery store runs, doctor’s appointments and school visits. My friend is inordinately busy and full of a life that has entailed owning her own business, raising three daughters and making time for her family and friends. Our conversations best fit when she is not home. A phrase from Willie Nelson’s singing “On the Road Again” plays in my head. Since my friend’s marriage and move to Hancock, we have discovered that there is a dearth of cell phone towers near Hancock. Hence, with cell phones as our preferred mode of communicating, the lack of cell phone towers is a serious impediment to “friendship as usual.” Having listened to her describe feelings of social isolation and the physical remoteness of her new abode, I decided to Google Hancock. I found more, much more than I bargained for. Before I begin, it would be best to cite a disclaimer on any and all facts I recite. I went to www.city-data.com and www.Wikipedia.com as well as www.Googleearth.com. Within minutes, I could tell you that Hancock is located fully within the Merrimack River watershed. It consists of 31.2 square miles, predominately comprised of land with a small amount of pond water calculated in the acreage. The highest point of Hancock can be found on Skatutakee Mountain, 2002 feet above seawater! The population in the 2000 census was 1739, of which 98.1% is white. There have been no rapes nor murders nor violent crimes reported in the past ten years. There was a burglary about seven years ago. The nearest city, Manchester, NH is a little over 30 miles away. On back and twisty routes, that distance is covered in just about 45 minutes -- when the weather is good. The view provided by Googleearth shows trees. Lots and lots of trees. Whether at ground level or from an elevated, birds-eye view, trees outnumbered house, people and maybe even insects! The next step to my thought process was, “Wow, it’s so easy to get information about cities and towns. What about the towns that house my other friends? Family?” TWO HOURS later, I had researched and virtually visited many places including Leverett, MA, Hanover, MA, Nahant, MA, Boulder, Colorado, and Whately, MA. By the time I visited Whately online, I was so proficient at using www.city-data.com that I submitted nine photos of my own to augment the visuals on Whately! I mean, really, there were no photos displayed and the editors were seeking relevant shots. It takes up to two months for them to be displayed, but I feel confident at least one of mine will make the cut.
West Brook, Whately, MA If it appears that I have too much time on my hand, I feel confident in justifying the time as “research” on my next novel. I have the title and a rough plot etched out, now is the time to collect background material. Thanks to the ready availability of data, I can claim to have begun work on ......
Whately Prep: a tale of intrigue, betrayal and revenge.
It may be six years before you see the book at Barnes and Noble, but you heard it here first!

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