North Country
11:56 am
Tue January 3, 2012

Exploring the Heart, Past and Future of the North Country

A lot of people hear about "the North Country" but for those want to know more a splendid way to begin 2012 would be with a book called “Beyond the Notches – Stories of Place in New Hampshire’s North Country.”

Fifty essays in 400 pages explore the history, the challenges and the joys of life in the North Country.

One of the editors, Kay Morgan, said the North Country was a logical and compelling subject.

“I knew from my previous work and from living there that there was a rich heritage that we wanted to try to capture and talk about in a way that would be meaningful to residents of the area and which would look backward at some of the history,” she said.

But she said the editors also felt the book should look forward with the idea of opening “some dialog about the future.” The basic question was: How can the area be preserved at the same time it may have to change in significant ways to attract business and people to the region?

That’s also why the title is “Beyond the Notches” and not the more commonly used “above the notches.”

“The idea of ‘beyond’ is sort of thinking into the future,” said John R. Harris, another editor.

Consequently one section deals with the major issues facing the North Country, ranging from finding a new economic engine to zoning and land use.

Harris sees the book as being valuable to people who don’t live above the notches including those who come to visit.

He contends tourists who don’t understand the area or try to get to know people have an experience that is somewhat superficial.

“It is great to ski on a mountain or climb on one of the peaks but if you don’t connect with the people whose lives are influenced by those mountains and forests everyday it is a diminished opportunity,” he said.

In  November the New Hampshire Writers' Project gave the book its 2011 award as the "Outstanding Book of Nonfiction."

To read some of the stories: http://www.northcountrynhstories.org/stories.html

The book was also edited by Mike Dickerman and was published by Bondcliff Books  (http://www.bondcliffbooks.com/)  in an arrangement with the Monadnock Institute of Nature, Place and Culture at Franklin Pierce University (http://www.franklinpierce.edu/institutes/monadnockinst/index.htm).