Holiday Weather

Refreshed. It’s nice to take a blog break sometimes. For a while, I scaled down attention to world headlines, stepped away from a few duties, and devoted attentions and energies to more welcome pleasures…. friends and family. I call it the Great Diversion that involved a bit of travel, important dates with a 3-yr. old, reading books, some Christmas shopping, movie watching, dining out, and brief community duties.

Now it’s December and Santa has replaced the pumpkins and turkeys at our home, but thoughts of Thanksgiving linger.  My daughter nearby hosts Thanksgiving and most of the fixings and we supply several sides for the meal. A year ago she switched from one HUGE turkey to two smaller ones. We all agreed they were easier to roast side by side and fun to prepare using different methods. This year, it was the buttermilk-brined turkey that got the thumbs up over the salt-brined. Pssst: both were delicious!

Thanksgiving 2019

Two of our adult children and their children are heading home today… the most traveled day of the year. One family spent the holiday in Philadelphia with their son at a Meet The Parents event. Pssst: She’s absolutely adorable and so are her parents! All good…

The other family spent the holiday week at a family place on Hilton Head Island where the weather cooperated with sunshine and warmth and lots of beach days. Their excitement was the resident corn snake, a docile and benign snake, that visited their home all week. Thank goodness they respect and admire snakes like I do. All good….

Hilton Head Corn Snake 2019

Today both families will venture home by car while a powerful swath of wintry precipitation will disrupt travel for them. They will cross paths at some point… one to northeast Ohio and the other to Louisville Kentucky after driving to Indiana to return one of our grandchildren to college. This kind of travel is definitely for the young!

The storm’s path will lead it straight to New Hampshire this very Sunday afternoon with a long duration snowstorm. Our weather apps tell us to expect significant snowfall, perhaps bringing blizzard conditions until Tuesday. This may mean a cancellation of a community event I’m involved with to decorate the Exeter Historic Society building for Christmas. I’ve stocked up on hot chocolate for a two or three day hibernation at home. All good….

 

A little Southern Hospitality

I needed this break. Call it a reunion or homecoming or gathering of the clan. It was time again for a sibling get-together and the most logical location these days is Richmond, Virginia where 4 of the 6 surviving sibs live. A sister drove from Wisconsin and I hopped aboard JetBlue for a nonstop to Richmond, always a full flight and normally an uneventful and pleasant flight to my home state. All began well.

JetBlue

That is until my young seatmate began to get settled… first by taking off her shoes! Sniff…sniff.  She reached up and turned on her air full blast. She was wearing a heavy sweatshirt. I wore a light tee-shirt and the air was cold. 🥶

While I was contemplating what to do or how to ask her to aim the air her way, she pulled up her hoodie to cover most of her face and was asleep. And within two minutes, she was leaning her head on my shoulder. I had forgotten to lower the arm rest between us so our seats were like a nice comfy couch. Yikes!

So what did I do? Not a thing. She slept on my shoulder until we landed and when she awoke and sat up… she said not a word.

No Shoes!

Once on the ground, things greatly improved. We usually bunk at one or more of our 3 brothers’ homes for our stay but for the first time, the 3 sisters decided to secure a small conveniently located airbnb. And what a good idea that was. No one had to feed, entertain us, wash sheets and towels, and so forth. The first night all sibs and spouses gathered at the rental and we ate pizza and burned the midnight oil catching up, retelling family stories with greater embellishments and louder laughter than the previous year.

During the day, we played musical houses from dawn to dark visiting the homes and gardens of family members. This trip differed in that we, the senior generation, were invited to homes of the younger generation for visits, a potluck cookout, and even attended a Compline, a monastic evening service lit only by candlelight with a small group of singers, a niece being a member of the a capella choir. What a wonderful dimension the younger generation added to our annual homecoming.

compline, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Richmond VA

All week, we ate  and laughed and ate more and laughed more. Brunch at one home, lunch at another, cocktails at a third, and restaurants, too. Southern hospitality is definitely alive and well.

Always a highlight is the garden of our most senior sib who is a wizard at architectural rendering and building. He has designed and constructed three garden buildings that are marvels. Every blogger has one or two posts that folks visit more than others. My blogs of his gardens and outbuildings are the most visited and the most copied photos of my simple blog. Yep… by far.

Garden Building

His newest garden addition is a garden structure he built to contain his whole house generator.  I was glad to finally see it in person after a year of photos.

Generator Building, Richmond Va

Back home again in New Hampshire, renewed, refreshed, and eating a lot less, I’m in the garden again.  Fall maintenance…. the dividing, deadheading, and transplanting needs to happen now. Before we know it, alas, this scene from yesterday will soon be the scene from last February.

 

 

Lazy Days of Summer

It’s mid-July. We are in the midst of dog days. After a wet spring, rainfall has been reduced to an occasional shower or two here and there. Days can be muggy and they can be hot. But not hot enough for A/C in New England….. yet!  Fans really do the trick. It made me smile when I opened a congratulation letter from the electric company for electricity efficiency. Yippee!

Pinks and purples and blues of spring have faded in the area set aside for cut flowers.  Now it is moving toward hotter oranges with coreopsis, asclepia, echinacea, and gaillardia. Tall ‘Hyperion’ daylilies will soon open to a lovely buttercup yellow and float over these sizzling reds and oranges.

cutting garden

We still have pinks and blues elsewhere. Our johnny-jump-ups will stay with us for the summer with a nice splash of color in the herb garden.

johnny jump-ups 2019

Flowers and shrubs take care of themselves now. There are chores among the ornamentals, maybe a few small weeds to pull daily but not enough to label as real work. Now we can sit back, relax on the deck, enjoy the garden, and watch our birds,

hummer 2019

Can you find her?

or take some New England road trips like this recent one to Vermont,

Vermont July 2019

and of course, we’re regulars at our incredible farmers’ market….

Farmers' Market 2019

… as we buy from farmers while we wait for the healthy fruit to ripen on our two tomato plants. Our Celebrity tomatoes are looking great and we can see a faint glow of pink in the right light. Wishful thinking?

tomatoes anyone 2019

Late July and early August is when the Little Lime hydrangea will burst on the scene. We have an early tease of what is to come at the tip of every branch. When in full bloom, those 5 shrubs will be the focus of our small landscape and well worth the wait.

Little Lime hydrangea 2019

We are savoring each of these Lazy Days of Summer. The season is way too short and before we know it, we’ll be looking out at the white landscape of winter. Give me hot and humid over snow and ice any day!

Happy summer to you!

Maine 2018

Maine.  What’s the appeal? Maine’s rocky shorelines dotted with sandy beaches draw thousands of vacationers to Maine. And then there are folks like us who are drawn to the dozens of fresh water lakes where rustic camps dot the shoreline. Bliss for me is watching a thick fog roll in over a lake waterfront while sipping a morning cuppa joe.

Thompson Lake 2018

Coffee could be followed by a morning paddle through the fog, the only sounds being the paddle dipping in the water and the not-so-distant call of the loons. In this tranquil setting, this could be the most exciting thing you do all day!

Fog burning off Thompson Lake 2018

Our summer stay was on Thompson Lake, a seven-square mile lake surrounded by beautiful mountains. The lake is in the top 5% of the cleanest lakes in Maine. On our boating expeditions around the lake, we could see the bottom at about 30-feet deep before we headed out into areas where the depths were close to 120-feet deep.

Both in deep waters and around the parameter of islands were prime spots for the grands to try their hand at first-time real (or reel 😄) fishing. A lake fished for bass, salmon and trout, all our small fishermen caught were little sunfish that were all released to see another day.

fishing 2018

It was not uncommon to spot a bald eagle on one of the many islands or hear the echo of loons any time of the day. With a reported 20 pairs of loons breeding on the lake, we felt fortunate to have a pair with their tiny offspring foraging in a cove near our camp daily. What a sight to see!

loons 2018

Days were spent doing whatever we pleased. That could mean doing nothing at all or it could mean a venture inland. Unlike the summers of my youth on the salty shores of our grandparents’ rural cabin in Virginia where siblings and cousins played cards or Monopoly to pass an afternoon, this generation has modern options for afternoon lounging. All good….

Thompson Lake 2018

Evenings were spent enjoying all the traditional summer activities….sitting on the dock, listening to the loons, watching sunsets, and toasting marshmallows over an open fire.

Thompson Lake sunset 2018

I think I’m sold on these rural lake camps of New England where nature abounds. It seems each summer we are on a different lake but it’s all so similar…. quiet, tranquil where nature rules and we are allowed to enter and absorb it all for a short time.

Thompson Lake 2018

 

 

 

From ICE to NICE

Although it was 31° on our first morning in South Carolina, it was a heck of a lot warmer than the 7° we left behind in New Hampshire.

Temperatures are unseasonably brisk here, reaching the high 40s or low 50s under sunny skies so far. Most people are sporting lightweight jackets and warm hats but not everyone. We do a double take when we spot the occasional brave soul in Bermuda shorts! “All are hardy Canadians,” say the locals.

Until the weather warms a little, we are concentrating on good food, especially the southern goodies I’ve missed…like those warm hush puppies I enjoyed at our first meal on Hilton Head.

Coligny Beach Park was a lunch destination yesterday followed by a walk on the beach…something we’d probably never choose to do in the high season due to the popularity of this wonderful beach.

Beach access takes you through the park on a boardwalk where you may stop to lounge on swings, benches or chairs in the sun or beneath gazebos. Outdoor showers, little changing rooms, restrooms, and free WiFi make it a perfect access for a beach day.

img_4546

Beach matting allows visitors to cross the wide expanse of soft sand down to the water’s edge where the few walkers and bikers are found.

Great place to work up an appetite for dinner!

Flatlanders on Vacay

Up in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and places north, they call folks from our area and beyond, Flatlanders or “flatlandahs,” as it is properly pronounced in New Hampshire. I was well aware of the label as we ventured into the beautiful Lakes Region for a little R&R last week, but, thankfully, locals were way too polite to use the term when they inquired where we were from. I know what they were probably thinking as we snapped photographs of every fern, mountain, shop window, and covered bridge. No moose though. Two black bears…. a live one crossing the road and a stuffed one at an area restaurant.

Stuffed Bear at a Restaurant

It was a great time to travel there. Crowds gone. The highways were navigable and only the locals in the shops and restaurants.  We were between summer tourist season and Leaf Peeper season. The camp where we stayed was practically unpeopled and so very natural. No motors… only the sound of paddles dipping in the water. Blue skies. Gorgeous sunsets.

Kayaking

Paddling out to meet the sunset

There were six of us and about 6,000 pickerel frogs, a resident snake, one noisy chipmunk scolding us during the day, the piercing rattle of the Belted Kingfisher giving us morning wakeup, and the echos across the pond of loons to lullaby us to sleep at night.

Pickerel Frog

A snake stalking two pickerel frogs on the beach (lower right)

More fun than anything was watching the little ones enjoy the ‘wilderness’ adventure.

Going Fishing

Floating to the raft again...

I want that one...

Meals were easy. Deserts were often over a fire.

Our lodging was beautifully rustic, yet modernized… thank goodness. The atmosphere gave me a sense that Katharine Hepburn or Henry Fonda could walk in the door and settle down in front of the towering stone fireplace. Family albums on the shelf, family pictures through umpteen years on refrigerator, walls, and tables. Scratched wide plank flooring most likely has withstood generations of canines that were captured in old photographs. Collection of hats for any occasion adored a wall. Great ambience!

We’re so glad we were made very welcome in our camp and in the numerous towns we visited. Without a doubt, we came home refreshed and already babbling about our next trip.

Final Glimpse of Summer

Fall is in the air in New Hampshire. Our birches have lost most of their leaves. The yellows are blazing and the reds are emerging quickly near the seacoast. Leaf Peepers must be planning their trips to New England… hopefully with airline tickets already in hand. We read that the leaf color in the Lake Winnipesaukee area in the Lakes Region is showing early reds and oranges. With temperature hovering in the upper 40’s this morning, it should only get better. We’ve flown to New England in the fall in years past but this year we plan to follow the procession of Leaf Peepers along the roads. Wish us luck.

To catch a last glimpse of summer, my sisters and I visited Stonewall Kitchen gardens (twice!) in York, Maine where colorful annuals attracted butterflies, skippers and bees. Glorious!

Click photos if you want full size….

New Hampshire Vacay

Standing in line for my New Hampshire driver’s license, I spotted a poster on the wall at DMV that touted “New Hampshire is 84% forested and the rest is underwater.”  Hmmmm… really? I verified the fact with an online forestry site that it is indeed 84% forested and the underwater part is obvious when looking at a Google Map of the state. Rivers, lakes, ponds, bays dot the landscape and the ocean provides a superabundance of water.

So I decided then and there to search the perfect getaway for my children, spouses, grandchildren in this land of trees and water. The words I searched  for online were peaceful setting, pristine water, native plants, hiking trails, private, rustic cabins, firepit… all within driving distance to Portsmouth for a night out or day at the ocean. And I found the perfect cabins nestled in the woods on Wild Goose Pond near Pittsfield NH.

Rustic it was. And isolated. A pristine lake. Nice and quiet. Peaceful. With a variety of boats… paddles or sails provided. At night we snuggled under down comforters and during the day we paddled, sailed, hiked, ran, swam then gathered for a plein-air dinner cooked over an open fire.

Nature in its purest surrounded us.

… spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

Adventures that delighted children (and me!) included fairy houses using old bark, twigs, acorns, rocks, moss, leaves and other natural materials.

… puzzles

… lunch from bushes,

… running, walking,

… marshmallows,

… swimming, fishing,

… and finally, hiking Mt. Major with the ultimate in views!

I think I like it here in New Hampshire!