A Place for All Seasons- Mt Ascutney

My special location is Mount Ascutney in Vermont, about seven miles from my home in Claremont, New Hampshire. Why is it special to me? Because this is where I went for physical healing after an accident forced me to have a total knee replacement a year ago. There I also found spiritual and emotional comfort, as well inspiration for new hobbies I’d like to pursue --- such as nature photography and animal track identification. In short, Mount Ascutney gave my life a whole new start. I’d like to quote two people who have also found Mount Ascutney a place of special meaning and joy:

Maxfield Parrish, who lived and worked much of his life in Cornish, New Hampshire, in full view of Mount Ascutney, is quoted in Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America by Jackson Lears:
After years of producing enormously successful calendars for General Electric, Parrish finally announced, “It’s an awful thing to be a rubber stamp. I’m quitting my rut now while I’m still able.” He decided to turn to landscapes. “There are always pretty girls on every city street, but a man can’t step out of the subway and watch the clouds playing with the top of Mount Ascutney.”

In A Passion for Freedom: My Encounters with Extraordinary People by Leonard R. Sussman, the author states:
…writing the history of one’s own place in the world: that is a major avocation of Edith Hunter. At eighty-three she appeared frequently as a historian-commentator on Vermont Public Radio.
…she writes, “and beyond the woods looms our great monadnock, Mount Ascutney. As always when I stand in that field I think of all those who have stood where I stand and have looked up at that mountain. Surely generations of Native Americans snow-shoed here. Surely they, too, marveled at the sight of this ‘peaked mountain with steep sides’, a definition for the Algonquin word ‘cas-cadnack’, from which some think the word ‘Ascutney’ is derived.
Others stood there, Edith recalls. Submit Hawks Grout with her three small children were taken captive on July 27, 1755 by French and Indians. They journeyed along the Black River into Weathersfield and on into Canada. Four years later, Submit was ransomed by her husband, Hilkiah Grout. And in 1722 [sic] the family settled by the Black River in Weathersfield. Edith writes, “What thoughts must have gone through [Submit’s] mind whenever she lifted her eyes to Mount Ascutney!”
When the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette made a grand tour of the United States in 1825 some local patriots started to build a road up the side of ‘Ash-Cutney Mountain’ to provide Lafayette a better view of the scenic wonder. Edith is not certain the road was ever completed. But she is sure that “Lafayette at least saw Mount Ascutney before being greeted by five thousand people in [nearby] Windsor.”

Additionally, I would like to cite a third work which, although I am a man, has special meaning to me. It’s from Women with Disabilities: Found Voices by Lillian Holcomb:
I’m glad --- more than glad --- that I’ve been able to have my own life, raise a kid, write poems and songs, find a sweetheart after years of living alone, speak in public, be alone, garden, ache, listen to other people’s stories, and take risks, because without risks there is no opportunity to experience a life that takes you beyond your original expectations. Ann and I talk about this: the importance of risk and the importance of day to day opportunities for happiness. Take away risk and how much opportunity for self determination is left? Diana’s cerebral palsy makes her hands so jittery she can’t hold ski poles, so she skis down Mount Ascutney without poles. It’s called creative problem solving , and it’s not without risk. But Diana (who’s braver than I am) would be the first to tell you it’s fun.

Like Maxfield Parrish, I, too, like watching the clouds playing with the top of Mount Ascutney. Even more, I like being in the clouds playing on the top of Mount Ascutney. The clouds shroud the ledges and boulders in a soft, wispy grey, giving the summit a surreal effect like being on alien, primal planet. In the winter I’ve seen the clouds move in, hurling snowflakes across the summit with wind roaring like a demonic train. And in more gentle times, I’ve marveled at the beauty of sunrise at the summit while looking down on clouds below, viewing distant peaks like islands poking through a scalloped sea of white.

Like Edith Hunter, I, too, like to think of people in the past who have viewed and experienced Mount Ascutney as I have. My ancestors who came to Claremont in the 1800s saw the same beautiful mountain I like to gaze on. Claremont has changed much since they were alive, but the mountain has remained the same --- a timeless, changeless constant --- connecting me with my distant past.

And, like Lillian Holcomb, I too like the challenge of risk. I like striking out on my own on snowshoes, breaking a trail where no one else has walked except the animals to whom the mountain belongs. Despite the intense effort required and the many falls that are, for me, inevitable, I feel exhilarated, energized --- totally alive. And, for a brief while, I, too, feel the mountain belongs to me.

By Jerome N. Goggin
May 3, 2009


  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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  2. This is the good blog with good images and good details. Please keep on posting the more stuff. I will like to hear more from you.

  3. Andrienne Goggin ClarkOctober 04, 2010

    I liked the essay by Jerome Googin. Of course, I may be prejudiced because he is my brother, but he has always been a good writer.

    Andrienne Goggin Clark

  4. I just recently moved back to NH after many years of traveling as a military wife. We now live up on Winter st where I have the most magnificent view of our lady 'Mt Ascutney' all day from sunset to sundown. I grew up on this side of Claremont and have always have been in awe of her beauty. She gives me a sense of peace. Have climbed her many times and each time is always a thrill and a look in my past.
    I enjoyed your blog...keep writing
    L C Mayo

  5. Jerry Goggin just recently passed away (11/4/16). R.I.P. Jerry, you will be missed. We will be looking for you to be smiling down on us from the top of Mt. Ascutney!!


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