Friday, July 23, 2010

Shakers, Waterfalls and Moosie

We visited the Shaker Village in Canterbury, NH which had actual Shakers living there until the 1990’s. I’ve known very little about the Shakers, other than they make nice chairs, so the visit here was interesting. During the mid 18th century, a Christian sect was started by Sister Ann in England as a spinoff of the Quakers. Since they believed that the second coming of Christ had occurred, apparently in the form of Sister Ann, they were not a very popular religion, so Ann took her flock to the New World, known for religious freedom, sort of.


They eventually established about a dozen and a half communities in several states including the one in Canterbury. These were really cult-like communes – self-sufficient, but open to outsiders. There’s a story about “Winter Shakers” who were poor local folks who came into the communities to “try out” the religion and lifestyle for a while. This seemed to happen mostly in the cold months of winter, and the guests were fed and housed with grace, even though the community knew they were there basically because they needed food and shelter during those frigid months. Most left with the coming of spring.

The Shakers also had a strong belief in equality between men and women – equality, but separation. Men and women, even married couples who entered the community, lived separately. They used separate doors to enter the community buildings, slept in separate sections of the dwelling houses, ate separately in the same dining rooms, and were allowed to speak to each other only in officially sanctioned “union meetings.”

Oh, and they were also celibate, which may explain why there are so few Shakers left. The sleeping floors in the buildings which served as dormitories had walls between the men’s and women’s sides, accessed by separate stair cases. The elders in each building were on a different floor. The leading male elder’s chamber was right across the hall from the leading female elder’s chamber. No wall there. What’s up with that?

New Hampshire has several neat gorges, complete with waterfalls. DSC_0308 The biggest and most popular (so popular the state charges an admission) is the Flume in Franconia Notch State Park. The others are smaller, but just as picturesque, although to get to some of them you need to take a hike.

There are apparently a lot of mooses (I know the plural of moose is moose, but it just sounds wrong. Frankly, I prefer meese.) in New Hampshire because there are a lot of signs in the northern part of the state warning drivers to “Brake for Moose” and “Moose Crossing Next 6 Miles”. We’ve driven hundreds of miles in this state and seen just one moose. She was in a spot where I couldn’t safely stop to take a picture, so the picture of the stuffed moose in the Franconia Notch Visitor’s Center will have to do.DSC_0293I don’t think it’s a real moose.


Blogger Susan said...

I look forward to reading your blogs, and I'm learning so much! Now I don't know if I want to be a Wicca, a Shaker, a Mover or a Moose...

6:36 PM  

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