Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: At least the Legislature didn't chicken out

Nice job by Canaan Elementary School kids getting the Legislature to proclaim the New Hampshire Red hen as our official state poultry.

Why was this lack of an official poultry ever allowed to happen? The late Fred E. Beane, longtime Union Leader farm editor, would no doubt shake his gray-haired crew cut in wonder.

New Hampshire was very much a politically red state for the better part of Fred’s career. But it has swung like a cow’s tail in fly time ever since, which is why it’s good to have a Red to balance the official state butterfly, the Karner Blue.

Some say we are now more of a purple state than red or blue; which must be why the Legislature had the foresight, way back in 1911, to proclaim the purple lilac as our official state flower.

The solons (a fancy name used by copy editors for legislators because it fit in a tighter headline) waited until 1957 to proclaim the purple finch as our state bird. (Sorry, Red, but you have to settle for poultry.)

We went pink for the state wildflower, the pink lady’s slipper. And somehow we chose an orange tone, the pumpkin, for state fruit. Someone must have seen Trump coming.

But how do you like them apples, picking a pumpkin over a McIntosh?

We also have a white-tailed deer (state animal,) a white birch (state tree,) and a white potato (veggie.) All of which makes me wonder when the all-inclusive Gov. Chris Sununu will demand that the color black be included somewhere. I suggest the blacktop (official state highway.)

And speaking of politicians, does the red spotted newt (state amphibian) ever change his spots?

This kind of New Hampshire list makes me think of Robert Frost’s lines in his poem of that name.

“Just specimens is all New Hampshire has,

One each of everything as in a showcase,

Which naturally she doesn’t care to sell.”

The next crop of school kids looking for a civics lesson by introducing a bill might pursue an official state mountain. I know it would pique my interest. I’d go with Mount Washington. But poet Frost dissed our mountains in that “New Hampshire” piece.

“The only fault I find with old New Hampshire

Is that her mountains aren’t quite high enough.”

Frost must have been peering at them through smoky quartz (our official state gem.)

Write to Joe McQuaid at or on Twitter at @deucecrew.