Windham Life and Times – July 16, 2015

A Tribute to the “Common” Day Lily


Well, they’re here again, and I really can’t go another year without giving a big shout out to the magnificent orange glow that appears in July and always makes me smile, even on the busiest of summer days. You can spot them virtually everywhere; blooms held high, along the roads, beside stone walls, reaching out along the lake shore or in front of a great old antique home. These aren’t the stuck up high-breds with there fantastic pallets, ruffled edges and giant blossoms. No these are the dependable, sturdy, gritty, ancient, and beloved Tawny Day lily (H.fulva).

Day-lilies arrived in Europe from China, Japan, Korea and Eastern Siberia, during the 16th century, and by the 17th century had crossed the Atlantic to North America. It is also supposed that America sea-captains involved with the Asian trade brought them home with them. Hemerocallis is Greek and roughly translates at “beautiful for a day. “Crude homesteads being carved out of the forests in the America were beautified by transplants from the Old Country and Asia. They were the carefree choice of pioneers who had no time to spend fussing with ornamentals. The appeal of the daylily with its vigor and rock hardiness, along with its ease in propagating, made it the perfect perennial. The plant also multiplies well and is seldom bothered by insects or disease and spread into large clumps.” Best of all, you can dig some out of the clump and they easily grow in their new locations. They are without question the “easy” of the flower world but just because their easy, doesn’t mean they’re not beautiful.


Of the dozen plus Hemerocallis wild species, two were definite favorites: the Tawny Daylily (H.fulva) and the Lemon Day lily (H.lilasphodelus). Both were treasured possessions at the turn of this century. Many escaped from abandoned homesteads and old cemeteries, naturalizing themselves with ease and are seen by some as weeds or an “invasive” threat. They grow in both full sun and in shaded areas happily opening in the morning, each blossom lasting for a day.

The writer of the “River Bliss” blog captures their nature, “Daylilies take full advantage of their day in the sun by remaining in bloom for the duration, whereas delicate chicory flowers close around mid-day when the sun is most intense. I stopped in my tracks to listen to the advice the day-blooming flowers offered about making the most of a brief existence. They said:

Quick! Dry your eyes!
There’s so much living to do.
Get to it!
The day is young,
and the day is short.

Wake up and engage it.
Don’t waste a moment
Wallowing in longing or regret.
You have this one day to work with
the material of Here and Now
So make the most of it.

“How interesting that the Chinese name for the daylily, xuan-cao, can be translated as “forget-worry herb” or “the plant of forgetfulness” because it was believed to alleviate worries by causing one to forget. When I stopped to connect with the essence of the day-lilies, I forgot mine!”


So join me for the next few days and enjoy the humble yet noble Tawny Day-lilies, as they freely bloom for your sole enjoyment. Each bloom, shining brightly in crimson orange, for just one day. Day-lilies are also a reminder that it is approaching mid-summer and that its time to enjoy what’s left of New England’s fleeting warmth while it lasts.


Windham Life and Times – May 28, 2015

Canonbie, Canobie, Cannobie

Pictured above in Gilnockie Tower, located 2.3 miles north of Canonbie Scotland, built by Johnnie Armstrong, around 1520. The Lochinvar, made his escape through Cannobie in Sir Walter Scott’s poem

Pictured above is Gilnockie Tower, located 2.3 miles north of Canonbie Scotland, built by Johnnie Armstrong, around 1520. The Lochinvar, made his escape through Cannobie in Sir Walter Scott’s poem

Part 1: My Apologies to Leonard Morrison

I’ve written about how the name “Canobie” Lake came to be, several times in this column, and I’ve always assumed the Leonard Morrison made a mistake with the spelling. In fact, this town in the borders lands of Scotland is now known as Canonbie, however, I’ve recently discovered that this was not always the case. I found an old postcard on which it said that the view was of Canobie, Scotland. This prompted me to do some research to see if there was more than one “Canobie.” This is what I discovered:

Canonbie is a small village in Dumfriesshire within the District Council Region of Dumfries and Galloway in south west Scotland, six miles south of Langholm and two miles north of the Anglo-Scottish border. It is on the A7 road from Carlisle to Edinburgh, and the River Esk flows through it. There are frequent references in older documents to it as Canobie. (Miller, Hugh (1871). Leading Articles on Various Subjects. p. 245.) So there it is, our beloved and accurate, Windham historian, Leonard Morrison, did not make a mistake. Canonbie was known as Canobie in the 19th century, when, the Boston & Maine Railway station was built and Policy Pond was renamed. So Mr. Morrison, I apologize for not trusting in you.

Canonbie Parish had an Austin (Augustinian) priory at Hallgreen, dating back to about 1165. The priory was destroyed during the reign of Henry VIII after the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542. A grassy mound in a field near the present day church is believed to be the only remnant of the ruins. “The priory is important in that it is the source of the name Canobie. CANOBIE, or CANONBIE, a parish, in the county of Dumfries. An ancient priory here is supposed to have given the name to this place, Canobie being probably derived from the Saxon Bie, or By, signifying “a station,” and thus interpreting the word “the residence of the canons.”

Remains of a Roman signal station can be found on rising ground near the old Gilnockie station; and ruins of famous mediaeval strongholds are at Hollows and Harelaw; remains of other mediaeval strengths are at Mumbyhirst, Auchenrivock, Hallgreen, Woodhouselees, and Stark.

Over the coming weeks, you’ll know the whole story of Canobie. You’ll hear how this town on the Scottish borders was immortalized in a poem by Sir Walter Scott, “There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,” and you’ll learn about the exploits of Johnnie Armstrong, the laird of Gilnockie. There really is much more to the name Canobie, than you’ve ever imagined and is it a very appropriate name for the beautiful lake shared by Windham and Salem.

The Canonbie church was built around 1820, near the site of the original priory from which Canonbie took its name.

The Canonbie church was built around 1820, near the site of the original priory from which Canonbie took its name.

Windham Life and Times – April 9, 2015


Simpson Mill 1

Simpson Mill as it looked in about 1898.

The photographs above and below were taken in 1898 and shows Simpson’s Mill. Joseph Simpson, “a fine carpenter and millwright being very ingenious” built a mill here in 1788-89 which was owned by shareholders. Thomas W. Simpson, who was no relation to Joseph, operated a grist-mill, saw-mill and lumber-mill here for much of the 19th century. He improved and added to the buildings. When the Simpsons operated the mill, the pond was known by the name of Simpson’s Pond.

As most of you know, the Deer Leap conservation land abuts this pond. According to Morrison, ”Deer Ledge lies north of J.W. Simpson’s pond, and is situated on the high, romantic, and precipitous sides of the hill of ledges. Its name is derived from the traditional fact, that an Indian drove a deer over the precipitous sides of this ledge into the water. The pond was called Deer-ledge Pond. I don’t know how the name morphed from Deer Ledge to DeerSimpson Mill3 Leap but it did at some point.

“The pond and island were sold to John Drinan in 1894. The right to cut and carry away all wood and timber on the island was reserved to the past owner, Thomas W. Simpson. When the pond and land were sold to the Moeckel family, the name of the pond changed once again to Moeckel Pond. There is an ongoing effort to rebuild the dam. Tax deductible donations marked for “Moeckel Pond” can be sent to Windham Endowment, PO Box 4315, Windham, NH or donate via Check out all the Friends of Moeckel Pond information on Facebook at  https://www.facebook./friendsofmoeckelpond

The foundation of Simpson's Mill with Mill-Stones in  water.

The foundation of Simpson’s Mill with Mill-Stones in water.