High school reunions can be intimidating. But holding them on a gorgeous summer day in beautiful surroundings certainly helps. Katie Paine kindly opened her house to hold an early August reunion for graduates of Oyster River High School at her Shankhassick Farm on Durham point. As I guest of an ORHS alumna and not knowing anyone there, I decided to bring my camera (like I go anywhere without it anyway) to keep myself entertained during all the reminiscing.
I was glad I did – what a wonderful place for photography.
Inside the large house, one interesting detail after another caught my eye. Light and shadow played across a variety of antiques. Every room, tastefully decorated, held more treasures waiting for the exploring eye. Books and chests, glasses and pots and chairs, all waited patiently for their opportunity to pose for the camera. It was photographer heaven. Oh, and the good spread of food also grabbed my attention (both for the camera and for the mouth – give me a camera and food and I’m happy).
Katie explained that the house began as a sturdy, New England barn. In 1960, the owners transformed the barn into a house. Sadly, a fire destroyed the house in 1999. The dry, old timbers burned so hot, they had to move the fire truck farther from the house because the fire threatened to damage it. Within a year, though, the house had been rebuilt in a style with a feel of a traditional farmhouse.
The gardens and yard which spilled over the knolls and hollows around the house called quietly to my camera. They rivaled the inside of the home in their photographic allure. Flowers smiled lovingly at the sun. Ferns nestled a stone wall. A hammock rested invitingly in the shade of two massive maples. Trails led off into the woods where birds flitted and chirped.
My wandering artistic eye led me to the vegetable gardens and the chickens ranging freely over the grass (and digging for bugs in the manure pile). I tried to coax some into striking poses for me, but they preferred gathering around me to see if I brought anything good to eat. No, dear, those are my shoelaces, not worms. Would you kindly not peck at my leg? A harried, orange tabby cat kept a watchful eye on the chickens – who followed the cat around and seemed eager to lunge in for a nip at any opportunity. And you think you’re hen-pecked?
Back inside, I grabbed a bite while listening to a small band who entertained the guests. The band, Old School, played a good mix of music that enticed dancers onto the sun-splashed, hardwood floor of the post and beam great room. Of course, I had to dance as well since I teach ballroom dancing. Various alumni joined the band or offered their musical talents during the band’s breaks.
The afternoon wound down and the guests slowly left for their homes around New Hampshire and across the country. Katie’s home made a comfortable setting for old friends to catch up on the events of each other’s lives. I made plans to return for more photography.
To view more images, please visit the gallery.