A Feast of Friendship

Marian and I celebrated our 49th Wedding Anniversary ten days ago. When I asked her where she would like to go to celebrate, she said “Long Island.” It’s almost a year since we left the island, and much as we love our new home in the New Hampshire Lakes Region, we left many friends behind on Long Island. 18 years in one place (the longest I have lived anywhere) will do that to you, especially if you are as deeply involved in people’s lives as a pastor and wife are. So we went back for a few days, staying with our good friends Loretta and Neil in their lovely and spacious home (with pool!).

We had a feast of friendship! Thursday evening was dinner with six friends at our favorite restaurant – Desmond’s at the East Wind Hotel. We ate and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company for hours. On Friday morning Loretta invited the seven members of Marian’s “Yada-Yada Sisters” sharing and prayer group to meet around her dining table, followed by a typically-Loretta lunch. Friday evening was pizza with another old friend.

Saturday dawned sunny and warm, and seven of us set off in two cars for a winery tour on the North Fork. Picnic lunch was at Laurel Lakes winery, where over a hundred people were enjoying a perfect late summer day at picnic tables surrounding the tasting bar on the edge of the vineyard. DSC_0054

Then we moved on to Castello di Borghese Vineyard, where our old friend Marguerite was singing that day. Did we surprise her! DSC_0059 DSC_0057

The final stop of the afternoon was Macari Vineyards in Cutchogue, where we met up with Diane’s son and daughter-in-law, and Kris’s daughter.  DSC_0064

We returned to Loretta and Neil’s tired and happy, enjoyed a light supper, and retired early to bed! Sunday morning we took our hosts to the local Lutheran church where Marian and I worshipped for many months before we left LI. The afternoon was perfect for a swim! DSC_0037

Monday morning we packed and headed for Orient Point and the ferry back to CT, and a peaceful drive home to NH. What a happy four days! Thank God for good friends made over 16 years on LI. Our lives are bound together by ties of love and faith, and by the many deep experiences we shared – weddings, funerals, serious illnesses and surgeries. We will always be friends who are at ease with one another and can pick up conversations where we left off months before. We may now be separated by miles, but our hearts will never be.





Three months into our new lives on Shellcamp Lake in Gilmanton, NH, we decided to take a vacation! The boxes are emptied, the shelves are up in the family room/library and in the garage, and we decided we deserved a break. So we went to Maine. No surprise, if you have read A Maine Winter. Now it was time to see Belfast and the Mid-Coast in mid-summer. We chose the weekend when the landlady of our “cozy cottage overlooking Belfast Harbor” was holding an “Open Garden” for the community and her wonderful flower garden would look its best. It certainly did!    DSC_0040 Our RV found its way back to our favorite campground in East Belfast, overlooking Penobscot Bay. It was as lovely as we remembered from last summer, when we had first entertained the idea of relocating to Belfast once our home on Long Island sold.   DSC_0045 We spent days revisiting parts of Belfast we had known all though our “trial winter;” the summer warmth, the tourists, the boats in marinas and harbor quickly erased our memories of snow, ice and cold! DSC_0073   DSC_0079 DSC_0082 One day was spent visiting Acadia National Park. During our winter stay, friends would sometimes ask “Have you been to Arcadia?” Our rather abrupt answer was “No-one goes anywhere they don’t have to during a Maine winter!” But now we were able to enjoy Acadia on a perfect summer day. We had forgotten how lovely it is – our last visit was over 30 years ago!    DSC_0056 DSC_0059 DSC_0063 Then back to NH, which seems so much milder, gentler, more “southern” New England than the rugged coasts of Maine. What a pleasure to live in one and be able to visit the other!  But one thing Gilmanton and Belfast share is that early August already carries a touch of Fall! Some color is appearing in the sugar maples, the sumac beside the roads is turning red, and purple loose-strife fills the ditches. We shall enjoy every warm day in August, knowing that it will get cold all too soon!

Bit By Bit

As the summer deepens, we settle in a little more each week. Bit by bit, our lakeside cottage feels more like home.

80 degree weather, often with low humidity, makes it easy to enjoy summer in this part of New Hampshire. Evening thunderstorms on humid days are spectacular, with lighting crossing the sky from one end of the lake to the other. The hanging plants are doing well, but we are still trying to decide on the ideal spot for a beautiful blue hydrangea – a gift from visiting friends.

Most of the house is furnished and decorated now, but there are still rooms to paint, window rods to be mounted, and more bookshelf space to be created. And slowly we are getting through the long list of “things you just gotta do” in the first three months after a move – not just unpacking the boxes and finding a home for everything, but getting new drivers’ licenses, having the vehicles registered and inspected (only batting one for three on the last one so far… NH auto inspections are tough!). Finding new physicians, and going through all the tests they demand of new patients, has filled many days. Mercifully we are all well, but that has to be proved and documented to the satisfaction of our new PCP! Health insurance can present problems when moving to a new state.

As July progresses, we have more visitors coming, and then (we hope) a week or two clear to get our RV out and take a trip back to Belfast, ME – to see how it looks in the summer after the long winter we enjoyed/endured there (see A Maine Winter), and to pick up a couple of items we left behind at our rented cottage in May! Good friends from Long Island will also be in ME, so we hope to visit them too.

Day by day, we are “getting there” emotionally and physically. It takes time to grieve and heal any loss, and retiring and leaving so many friends behind on Long Island left a hole in our lives that is still not filled – and in some ways never will be. But bit by bit, we are getting to where we believe God wants us to be now.DSC_0024


Summer has begun (officially, although the weekend started very chilly here). After 7 weeks in residence, we now smile condescendingly as “the weekend people” and “the summer people” arrive at their lakeside cottages now that schools are out! This week was “Bike Week” in Laconia, when thousands of bikers visit Lake Winnipesaukee and tour the local towns and villages. On Friday a group of 15 kayakers visited the lake and explored every inch on a sunny and breezy day.





We also have our own “visitor month” in progress, with friends and family from New York staying with us each weekend. Last week’s friends were returning from Maine to Long Island, and loved the (relative) warmth and tranquility of our NH lake. This weekend our older son and woman-partner were up from Brooklyn, and initially found it very cold here compared to perspiring NY City!  But by evening when the wind on the lake subsided with the setting sun, the NY visitors were reveling in the pleasures of canoeing, kayaking and fishing against a sunset worthy of “On Golden Pond.”





As a nightcap, they got the fire-pit going for the first time since we arrived!


Today was warm with no wind, and felt like summer. A perfect day to visit the local winery and sample NH wines in an idyllic setting. The winery also serves Sunday brunch, so Marian and I will be back there again soon!

Wherever our visitors come from, all agree that the Lakes region of NH is lovely, and a visit here represents a real “vacation” from the daily world of  NY. We are of course blessed just to live here!