Old Hill Village - March 2010

To be honest, it really isn't spring yet. But today the
sap is flowing, the sky is blue and the sun warm. It's
nearly 45 degrees. So I pretend it's spring and take a
nice walk in Old Hill Village along the Pemigewasset
River. Hanz, W1JSB comes too.

We head east along the brook, down the hill, alongside
the old mill race and into the flood plain below. We're
walking on bare ground for the first time this year.
The old road is pretty much dry. There are patches of
snow in the fields, but walking alongside them or even
through them is no problem.

Old Hill Village was abandoned in the early 1940s to
make a flood control area for the Franklin Falls Dam.
It's a beautiful place graced with meadows and giant
maple trees.

We head North along the old Center Road soaking in the
quiet scenery, the lure of open fields and gnarled trees...
some of them are close to a century old.

Past the old school lane we find a warm spot alongside the
road. Hanz picks out a place on the East side of the road.
I select a tree on the West side. I gaze up at the perfect
branch and something within me wavers. I've thrown wires
over this branch several times before. Today, I'm not sure I
can get that high. "Hanz," I call. "Think you can chuck
a line over this branch?" Sure, he says and he comes right
over. He heaves the line overhand with perfect precision
and the line floats over the branch exactly placed. Geepers,
I think: I'm getting old... do I need a youngster to launch my
antenna lines?

I work Spain and Hungary from the field

Anyway, I set up the gear on 20 meters and tune
around. I've brought the Chinese QRP rig... the
HB-1A at 4 watts and a half wave wire with the Par
Electronics match box. Within a few minutes
I've logged the first contact. EA3DD, Manu in Spain
gives me a 579.

Hanz and I take turns making QSOs because we're both
operating on 20 meters and totally wipe each other out.
No wonder... we're each using verticals about 100 feet
apart. Hanz is operating on SSB with his FT-817 and
he's waiting for a strong station in Bavaria to finish
a QSO. I make a second QSO... this time with Laci,
HA0NAR in Hungary. He gives me a 559. Hanz is
calling the Bavarian station who comes right back to
him but can't quite get his call right because of some
local QRM.

Hanz picks a warm spot on the East side of the road

Hanz hears a very strong Greek station and answers.
SV8/DL8MCA returns and gives Hanz a 55 from Skiathos
Island in the Aegean Sea. Hanz tells Dick he is QRP and
Dick returns, "Congratulations of your equipment. QRP
signal very strong."

Hanz works SV8/DL8MCA on Skiathos Island in the Aegean Sea

I hear another Spanish station calling CQ and answer.
EB3EPR has a hard time getting my call sign and gives
me a 229. But we complete the QSO and I pack up.
Finally I pull the wire down and wind it up. I look again
at the branch. I must throw the water bottle myself
or forever live to wonder. I twirl the bottle (David and
Goliath style) and heave it far above the target. It goes
over another branch about 15 feet higher! I calculate
the distance from the line left over from my 100 foot reel.
I've thrown the bottle to 40 feet. OK... I'm good for at least
another year of this.

Hanz and I wander up the lane to the old school yard.
We envision children playing in the fields or picking apples
from the trees scattered about. We imagine school yard
sounds of children from the 1930s. Hanz takes some photos
of the old trees. At last spring is near.