So here’s the view from the upstairs bedroom window at The Frost Place in Franconia. When I first read “The Road Not Taken” as a student eons ago, I hadn’t the faintest inkling where the poet might have lived when he wrote it — indeed, I knew nothing about New Hampshire, period.
As fate would have it, this Hawai’i girl met her husband, a New Hampshire native, in London, England, and since then, we’ve visited many poets’ and writers’ homes on both sides of the pond. It’s always a wonderful moment when you finally get to see where a writer you’ve long admired actually lived. All at once he becomes a real person, and if you listen carefully you can hear whisperings from the past, as you gaze at the view that may very well have inspired a poem or two.
Frost lived here full time between 1915-1920, then summered here until 1938. Unlike his ten-year sojourn at Derry Farm (a period of unsuccessful farming and meager publication), by the time Frost inhabited this modest farmhouse his literary reputation was well established. He had just returned from England where his first two books (A Boy’s Will, North to Boston) had finally earned him the professional esteem he so earnestly sought and deserved.
The orange daylilies were in full bloom on that Friday in July when we happened upon the rusty mailbox on Ridge Road.
I sat on the porch rejuvenated by the clean fresh air, the silence broken only by occasional birdsong and the buzzing of determined bees. No wonder Frost loved it here!
Not all the furniture is original to the house, but we enjoyed peeking into each room, trying to imagine the everyday conversation and activities of a young family of six, as we perused photos, first editions and other memorabilia. I was disappointed that the kitchen wasn’t open to the public, and paused in front of the resident poet’s door. Was she in her room at that very moment, madly scribbling a new poem, trying her best to ignore our chatter and footfall? And what would she cook for breakfast the next morning?
Later, I watched a Frost video in the barn, and then we ambled along the nature trail out back, which is marked by poetry plaques affixed to trees. Two of them are placed where Frost actually wrote the poems.
Speaking of poetry plaques, remember our lunch in Franconia just before we visited Mr. Frost? Wendy Manning, owner of Wendle’s Deli (our new favorite eatery in the North Country), is a great friend and supporter of The Frost Place. Recently she was presented with a Frost poetry trail plaque by Office Manager Sue Jessen. What do you think of when you hear the sound of trees? I always thought they were laughing, but now I’m not so sure.
THE SOUND OF TREES
by Robert Frost