Like it’s been there all along


Despite its full-block size, the new Orpheum multi-use development in downtown Dover plays off the dimensions of the old Masonic building, far left. The redesign sought to maintain downtown Dover’s historic brick storefront appearance – narrow buildings with upstairs housing set side by side.
How about a brief taste of a big-city side street?
While adding population density to downtown Dover, the Orpheum remains tucked in when viewed from Washington Street just below Lower Square. The small-town landmarks remain the old Masonic building, left, and former Strafford Bank, right, in their interplay of brick and stone.


Shooting hot and cold

Over the past year I’ve been playing with the auto settings on my camera. My aesthetic would normally be to go as natural as possible, but there are many times the result simply looks too flat for my taste, even after I sharpen the image or otherwise tweak it afterward. (In the early years of this blog, I didn’t even do that much. Rarely did I even crop the pic except in the camera as I was shooting.)

As I focused on New England foliage last fall, though, I was really struck by how much the supposedly natural settings differed from what I felt I was seeing. The vibrant colors seemed to turn cold by the time I viewed them on my laptop.

On the other hand, the “magic” setting often ran too hot, occasionally even turning lurid. Sometimes the image simply blew out in a burst of red.

Admittedly, often the foliage does appear subdued, but that’s not what we’re looking for. We want that “oh, wow,” to kick in. That brings up the matter of light, which can pop the leaves from so-so to absolutely glorious in a flash — not that the camera always captures that.

What I’m concluding is that cameras have a mind of their own, and sometimes you just have to respect that. Here are two shots from Dover’s Community Trail. Which do you prefer?

Hot …
… and cold.



Cocheco or Cochecho?

That is, one h or two? Even before we get to COCHECAW / COCHECOW amid a host of other Colonial spellings.

A 1771 map of New England has no Dover (settled in 1623) but Rochester and Durham, later offshoots, as well as the KOCHECKA RIVER.

Also, that map shows Cape Neddick, Maine, as Bald Point, and Winnipesauke Lake, the the north, as Winipissionket Pond.

There’s so much to untangle in such evidence.

The widely used one-h spelling, by the way, is traced to a clerk’s error in 1827 in the founding of the Cocheco Manufacturing Company, building on the cotton mills started in 1812 at the waterfalls downtown.


Ten favorite places

This round, I’m sticking close to home – places I return to.

  1. My studio and loft.
  2. Our Smoking Garden and adjacent fern beds, in season.
  3. Our 1768 Quaker meetinghouse.
  4. Dover’s indoor swimming pool downtown and its Olympic-size sister outdoors in Guppey Park, Portland Avenue. Gee, does that mean there’s actually a locker room or two as part of my favorites list? Let’s not slight the long, hot showers.
  5. Annunciation Greek-Orthodox church. Visually stunning interior, for starters, and some fine folks.
  6. Sander’s Theater at Harvard. Think of Shakespeare’s Globe and start adding on things like a ceiling.
  7. The Maine coast, from the Isles of Shoals on up. Could lead to its own Tendrils entry.
  8. The Community Trail running through town and out along the river.
  9. The waterfalls downtown. Always changing.
  10. Lickee’s and Chewy’s Candies & Creamery in the Cocheco Millworks.


Tell us something about one of your own favorites.

Almost as an afterthought

Designed somewhat in the appearance of a 19th century mill, a second multiuse tower has been rising on the north bank of the Cocheco River downtown. What has popped up rather expectedly, or so it would seem, is the two small buildings at the water’s edge.

At first I thought they might be boathouses, like those along the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts, many of them for university crew teams. It would make sense here and be a charming touch.

But I was wrong. These two structures, almost dollhouses next to the larger development, are being touted as “the Cottages at Rivers Mark.” Five apartments for rent, in all. I suppose you could fish from your tiny porch.

Down by the riverside.
Next to the Chestnut Street bridge.