Sunday, October 8, 2017

Claiming Plainfield, N.H. (#146) and running amid the pumpkin people

Where I started, and also where I finished.

Pretty nice fall day for a run: a bit warm but overcast, with a light rain falling.

But whatever the weather, I sure picked the right time of year to pick off Plainfield, N.H., making it Town #146 in my quest to run a minimum of 10K in every town, city, or unincorporated place in New Hampshire.

I didn't know this, but turns out October is when the Pumpkin People emerge in Plainfield. Not content with mere Jack-O-Lanterns, it's an annual tradition for town residents to create elaborate roadside tableaux featuring everyone's favorite seasonal gourd.

How elaborate? How about this re-enactment a scene from the movie 'Titanic' (1997), which I passed on Stage Road?

How about something more topical, such as this eclipse-watching pumpkin astronomer?

Driving too fast? Meet the Pumpkin-As-Officer-Running-Radar, posted on a fast stretch of Route 12A north of town?

Officer, why are you smiling at me like that?

And how about this whole pumpkin family, stepping out?

So altogether, this made for a pretty entertaining run. And when there weren't pumpkin people, other objects of interest filled the gaps:

Want something more Halloween-like. How about the town's picturesque village cemetery, which seems to have plenty of open space...

And yes, before I forget: I did go for a run: a nice out-and-back on Route 12A, which for much of its journey through Plainfield is a narrow winding highway with no shoulder to speak of.

But about a mile-and-a-half before Plainfield Village, the road suddenly broadens to a whole new and more generous set of specs, with great visibility and a wide breakdown lane.

The post office in town was exactly 1.6 miles (by my odometer) from this point, so that was my route: out and back, a total of 3.2 miles.

As a bonus, the widened highway started at a crest in the road, just before a long series of smooth and gentle downgrades into the town.

Where Route 12A widens, facing south towards Plainfield Village.

So it was mostly gentle uphill to the turn-around point, then a nice forgiving downhill all the way back.

If any of the landscapes seem familiar, it's because Plainfield was for many years home to renowned American artist and illustrator Maxfield Parrish.

Although Parrish passed on in 1966, he's still a big man around town. In the Village, I ran past the old town hall, which boasts a set of scenery designed and painted by Parrish back in 1916, and it was open for weekend visitor scrutiny. (I demurred, not wanting to drip on the historic Parrish set pieces.)

Back at the post office, a bulletin board of real estate notices included what seemed to be a major one: for the first time in decades, the actual 45-acre Maxfield Parrish estate, known as "The Oaks," was up for sale!

Wow! If you've got a spare $1.3 million, it could be yours. It all sounds pretty nice, although you might end up being asked to paint some new scenery for the Town Hall.

And what about my time? I'll call it 37 minutes even to run 3.2 miles, good enough for claiming the Connecticut River Valley town of Plainfield and filling in a gaping hole in my office map, which I did this morning.

What's next? Now that I'm back in the local running groove, I'd like to pick up a few more towns before the weather turns. Maybe get to #150—we'll see.

Stay tuned!

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