All Good Things

The cool wind shifts in Moultonborough

The wind in New Hampshire has taken a noticeable turn. While the breeze is still refreshing and clear, the 10 to 20-mph gusts are creating white caps on our little piece of Lake Winnipesaukee. The sky is crystal clear and the greenery vibrant and whooshing in these winds. The sun is warming things up a bit, but there is a slight chill letting us know that it is time for a change.

While the boys and men hike Mount Major about an hour from our vacation house, we are enjoying a bit of quiet while starting to pack our things for the long ride home tomorrow. It is always bittersweet ending a vacation. The memories are countless: discovering the simple

Simple pleasures 1

pleasures of swimming and floating on a calm lake with two families tossing balls; heading to Smitty’s Golf to hit a few buckets of balls and discovering – we’re not bad at this;

Simple pleasures 2

enjoying a local classic car show and gobbling pizza and salad at Pizza Barn in Ossipee; canoeing and rowboating out to an isolated, tiny island in the lake and building a small fire to toast marshmallows and make s’mores. Earlier in the week, we again enjoyed Rocky Gorge, nature’s swimming sight that Disney could never replicate, along the Kancamagus Highway around Conway, NH.

Simple fun at Rocky Gorge

The simple pleasures also include one of the boys thanking me for the great ideas that filled our second-to-last full day on vacation. We had to improvise given that our boat decided to konk out Wednesday afternoon. The fix could either be simple or more complex, but my husband reminded me we have boated more in these past two weeks than we ever have on vacation here in New Hampshire. We discovered new parts of the lake where we had never been before and I got to drive our boat several times enjoying how it glides across the waters and seems to have been made for this area.

The loon have been so incredibly active during these two weeks. In the past, there have been vacations when we did not see or hear a loon once. Nearly every night and morning, the call of the loon reminded us how

precious nature is. The lack of car and airplane noise and the vivid scenery that is present always in this

Simple pleasures 3

Sunset from "S'more" Island

place let me know that I will return often to find peace and joy.

I have said often that I find myself here in New Hampshire. That has been reinforced once again after a two-week respite. I have managed to get a little work done and enjoy restful, stress-free days and nights. We realize reality will face us with work and school in the days ahead. But during those stressful moments that will inevitably strike, if only for a second, I can close my eyes to find my happy place – a scene in New Hampshire frozen in time in my mind’s eye.

Adventures in Rocks, Friends and other Wild Life

Vacationing with friends is a wonderful thing – if everybody “gets it.” You can make meals together or separately; you can do activities together or separately; you definitely need a rhythm to get the bathroom thing done efficiently.

Week two of our NH adventure is going swimmingly. The four boys are enjoying canoeing together and seem to be sharing their bunk room well – though I will not go in there. (I can only imagine what it’s like in a room with four teen-aged boys.) The grownups are a hoot. The day revolves around what activity to get to next here at the lovely Moultonborough house. The lake called us – so we went boating. Doug followed the Lake Winnipesaukee

Andrew leaps into the lake

map and we got to what used to be called “Girl Scout Island.” There we found a huge rock formation that was OK for leaping 15-20 feet into the lake below. We had docked our boat around

The rocks with training wheels for the less brave souls

the other side of this small island. Other boaters anchored just off the rocks so they could watch the crazy guys hurl themselves off the rock and into the lake. Doug was the only grownup in our group to attempt this feat. Adam and Andrew made the jump several times. I was the official photographer (are you out of your mind???? ME jump??). We motored over to another smaller rock formation in the same cove area. Everyone but me got up the nerve to jump the 6 feet or so into the lake. I was thinking too much (Don’t think – just jump).

Mealtime is a real test of how you are all getting along. We almost never run into each other in the kitchen area and the prepping, cooking and cleanup routines go extremely smoothly. It’s great having teen-aged boys who will empty the dish washer, take care of the pans in the sink and take out the trash – all with little or no whining.

The trip about 15 miles to the remote Sandwich Creamery in Sandwich, NH was the highlight of the day. The dairy is open 24/7 for ice cream, cheese,

Donna and her friends enjoy Sandwich Creamery

eggs and bread. But the shop during non-business hours is a small cabin with a screened door. The ice cream refrigerator has three different sizes of

Exploring a tiny island off our vacation house

ice cream and about 10-12 different flavors. The upright refrigerator has a selection of cheeses and eggs. It’s the honor system for paying. You slip your dollar bills into a mail slot, grab a wooden spoon and enjoy! Outside, the calves come up to the fence and enjoy handfuls of grass from Donna while we all marveled at how she adored these animals.

Even today, which is a bit damp and gray, we’ll have a day filled with heading to town, checking out a movie and trying candle-pin bowling (a very New England thing).

Adventures await.

Moving Day

Once you take a two-week vacation somewhere, it’s difficult to ever go back to one week. I haven’t taken a two-week vacation since 1990 – before we were married.

This morning is a perfect start to a New Hampshire day. Danforth Bay is like a mirror; reflecting the wispy clouds set in a pale, blue sky. The loon, as they have all week, are active this morning with their unmistakable call cutting through the cool morning air. The chorus of birds are welcoming the day while the occasional fish jumps in the water.

This is quite an active and busy weekend in the White Mountains and Lake Region. Our neighbors have a party of eight spending a long weekend. Their

Friends arrive for week 2

first night lasted well beyond midnight (but they are up this morning grilling something and walking the dogs). There were some loud guys somewhere in our cove, but they quieted down around midnight. Our son and his friend spent the evening enjoying the Comedy Network and laughing it up. My husband collapsed about 9:30 p.m.

In a few hours, we’ll be packing up and moving 20 miles or so to our week 2 house in Moultonborough. Our friends, the Brauns and my friend, Donna will be joining us. While it will be another New Hampshire adventure, I’ll miss the serenity of this piece of paradise. The boys

Go-karting in Ossipee

enjoyed some tubing on Broad Bay yesterday; we had a BBQ dinner at Yankee Smokehouse, then spent an hour at the nearby Go-Kart track.

We’ll say farewell to Danforth Bay with more happy memories of a week spent in this nearly pristine place untouched by Starbucks and stress. We move to another place to experience another dose of paradise. One more week…

The End of an Era

Sports writers and TV sports broadcasters can be so maudlin. When the unfortunate passing of a veteran player happens – no matter what sport, the sportscaster quite sadly and dramatically proclaims, “It’s the end of an era.”

Farewell to campers

Watching Adam bid farewell to the campers he worked with this summer marked the end of one of his eras. After being a camper since the age of 9, this year marked his 8th at Camp Robin Hood. By all accounts, this was his best year yet. He seems to have taken care of himself, he matured and hopefully developed a sense of responsibility when it comes to being a counselor and mentor for the younger campers.Next year he ponders whether he’ll spend a summer as a paid counselor.

As I watched him give hugs to the boys who were half his size, I couldn’t help but wonder if Adam would be so happy some day that I took a couple of photos of this scene. These boys – half his size – will someday be CITs just as he was this summer. He’ll fondly remember the arts and crafts and sports and talent nights he spent with these kids and the boys he bunked with and remember lessons learned; laughs enjoyed and all-nighters spent rapping and sharing.

It is with our favorite, maudlin sportscasters in mind that I proclaim – “It’s the end of an era.”

Turtles and Water Lilies

Our 24 hours together is set on these serene piece of water with a gentle breeze, low humidity and sparkling sunshine. Fueled with some yogurt, fruit and granola and the best-smelling coffee, we paddled in the canoe across the bay to the small creek that leads to amazing displays of nature. Despite the hum of a lawnmower somewhere beyond the campground and neighboring state park, the chorus of birds and the gentle lapping of the canoe along the creek is all we could hear. Turtles sunning on a log, water lilies and lupin growing on the surface of the water and small fish greeted us on this short trip. A few kayakers and one fisherman also greeted the day that included this natural treat. The relaxation continues…

A picnic lunch accompanied us to a spot we have not seen yet, White Lake State Park. It’s just a short ride from our Danforth Bay house. The $4 per person admission was worth seeing the white-haired woman at the gatehouse. Doug said, “She’s probably as old as this park.” It was particularly funny when Doug almost rear-ended the car in front of us and the gatehouse woman said, “I know I’m gonna see an accident here someday.”

White Lake State Park, Ossipee, NH

We got the lay of the land quickly as the day-use area included a large beachfront with plenty of families, family-campers, day camp and overnight campers and their counselors and even the occasional garter snake. After lunch, we walked the two-mile trail around the lake which was formed millions of years ago by a glacier. After our walk, we decided to get into the swim area for a dip. Because it’s a glacial lake, it’s a bit cooler than Lake Ossipee – but it was still refreshing and relaxing.

Following our foray into civilization, we stopped at the neighborhood store for some fresh cod fillets and yet another bottle of wine for a fabulous dinner after a one-hour ride on the boat along Lake Ossipee.  It’s all I can do now to hop in the shower, then stay awake a few more hours to enjoy another amazing White Mountains sunset over the bay and take in the Phillies-Dodgers game on MLB.TV. Thursday, Adam leaves his camper days behind and joins us for 10-days of NH vacation-bliss. His favorite friend, Andrew, arrives Friday – it’s all good!

Water Pumps, Saxons and Tubing

They say you can survive without food, but not without water. We have now survived just about 18 hours without water at our lake house and all is well (or is it water well). The water for the lake house is pumped from a well and the motorized pumping sound is sort of like an air conditioner hum – you know it’s working well – until it’s not. Around midnight Monday, the pump kept cycling through with the “contractions” getting closer and closer until I knew something was wrong. You see, at that hour, no one was using water, so WHY would the water pump be operating? Turns out there was a crack in the housing and water sprayed all over the basement creating a 1/4 inch deep pond. Our attentive house owner was contacted and he arrived around breakfast time to begin cleanup and let us know the plumber was on the way.

The day was not lost. Even without a shower (we showered before the pump had broken), we managed to brush our teeth with bottled water, ate breakfast at a nearby diner, then packed up the boat for Doug’s treat for the Camp Robin Hood Saxons- a jaunt in the boat and tubing. I had decided to treat the Saxons to pizza so the day became a lunch-time, afternoon event.

The Saxons at the Friedman's camp on Lake Ossipee

After picking up $125 worth of pizza, I drove to the home of Jack & Jane Friedman and their son, Myles and wife Virginia. Jack is a cousin of my mother-in-law. Jane’s family has owned the Lake Ossipee property for well over a century. I arrived with the pizza just as the Saxons arrived at the dock. They were hungry and grateful and dug right in. I spent nearly two hours talking with the Friedmans about family history and listened to stories from the past.

The weather was hot, with a light breeze. The Saxons swam and tubed for a while, then collapsed in the beach area outside. I ventured back to our cottage to check out water pump progress. The owner was continuing to wet-vac the basement and dry out belongings that were soaked. Rich, the plumber from Federal Piping in Freedom was just about finished by 3:30 p.m. We had water and a new pump once again.

Doug was exhausted from the Saxon jaunt. I prepared a simple grilled chicken and vegetable dinner with a salad. I watched the Phillies get clobbered by the Dodgers (though they tried to claw their way back), and it was lights out by 11 p.m. Another day at the lake with an adventure in water pumps.

The Dance of the Loon

Ethel Thayer (Katherine Hepburn) cried to her  husband Norman Thayer (Henry Fonda) in “On Golden Pond,” “Come here, Norman. Hurry up. The loons! The loons! They’re welcoming us back.” While day three of our NH vacation is starting out gray and damp, the dance of the loon on Danforth Bay is unmatched in its wonder.

This morning, there was no mist, just a light breeze from the east and the chirping of countless birds to wake the day. In the flat water, I saw rings fanning out as though a fish had jumped. Looking closer, I saw the unlikely silhouettes of two loon dancing in mirror opposite on the water. They seemed to peck at each other; dip their long beaks into the water to snap up some bugs, then they’d disappear in unison below the surface to swim maybe 15 yards underwater. Then they’d pop up again on the surface, repeating the dance.

It is quite unusual to see two loon together. They are solitary, aquatic birds – except when they are mating. According to The Loon Preservation Committee, what I apparently saw this morning was the male and female doing short dives and swims together in their mating ritual. The male eventually leads the female to a suitable spot on land, but near the water, to mate and build their nest. Typically, nesting takes place in May or June, but it’s possible this male loon had a failed mating attempt with another female and has found another mate to try to start their family.

As far as I can tell, no one on Danforth Bay saw this display of nature this morning. Navigate to this link to hear the call of the loon – it is like no other. Voice of the loon http://www.loon.org/voice-loon.php