Time To Say Goodbye


This is the last post to A New Hampshire Journal. March 4 we packed the RV and followed our movers south towards a new home on eastern Long Island, NY – not so much “new” to us, as we spent 17 years there before retiring in 2012 and moving north, first to ME and then to the NH Lakes region. It has been great, but we are ready for something easier – a retirement community on Long Island. So with thanks and great memories of our NH “lakeside home,” we bid you farewell! Maybe there will be a new “Island blog” in the future. But here it’s almost Spring already, and leaving the NH snows was not too hard!

First Christmas in New Hampshire

Winter this year in NH, as in coastal ME last year, started with a bang. Snow before Thanksgiving is never welcome. We had about a foot of wet heavy stuff. The lake was ice-covered by then.

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December brought a crazy mixture of temperatures. We had 10 deg nights, snow flurries, and then a week later 55 deg days and heavy rain. By Christmas, most snow had disappeared, and some lawns were looking suspiciously green – enough to make you think April had arrived! Cruel! In the last few days of December, temperatures dropped, and now the lake is solid ice again after 10 deg nights and 20 deg days. Next week is forecast to bring 5 deg night and 15 deg days. January is our coldest month. DSC_0128         



IMG_0057  Our church’s Christmas Fair and Tea started December off well. Marian helped make wreaths, and then managed a table during the Fair. I spent the afternoon in the kitchen sink, trying to keep up with the steady stream of people who preferred eating to shopping! We spent one happy morning helping to decorate the church for Christmas, and a weekend decorating our own “new” home for our first Christmas here. DSC_0120 2


And so Christmas came! Dave & Xin decided to come up from Brooklyn, but could not leave until mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve. I feared it might take them hours to clear the city, but in fact they were here comfortably by mid-evening. It was dry and mild, and Marian and I enjoyed our first Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at our new church home in Gilmanton. By 9pm we were ready to start on our traditional Christmas Eve feast: many cheeses, sausage rolls, mince pies, Christmas cake… with several good wines and beers to accompany. All very Brit stuff! We slid into bed at 1am and slept soundly.DSC_0121 copy 2

DSC_0122 2  Nobody stirred early on Christmas Day, but the dogs finally made it clear that they wanted to eat! So we drifted into two days of gift-giving, reading (always plenty of books among our family’s gifts!), and eating as we felt moved. DSC_0126A turkey was roasted, and two friends from church joined us for a plentiful feast late on Christmas afternoon. Dave and Xin and their dog left on Saturday afternoon, and Marian and I shed a silent tear as we remarked on how quiet the house now was!

After what seemed like a week of Saturdays, Sunday came, and I preached while our Pastor took a well-earned after-Christmas vacation. Sunday evening a church family hosted the annual choir party, we greeted our friends once more, and endured the infamous “Yankee Swap.” By Tuesday it was time to join the work party to take down the Christmas decorations at the church.

Now it’s New Year’s Eve, and January 2015 lies before us. Paul has started a new carpentry project. The church Nominating Committee is recruiting people to serve in the coming year. It looks as though Marian and I will both find ourselves busy on committees. We’re already planning a short visit to Long Island and Brooklyn later in January! But it’s been a good “first Christmas” here, and we are thankful.


Fall Flies By

September flew by, and Summer turned to Fall – very quickly!

If you have lived long near the ocean, where the water buffers the falling temperature and extends mild weather from September though November, it’s a shock to live inland and discover how rapidly it gets cold! Our first brush with chilly air – the kind that makes you say “no more beach days” – came in the second week of August. Of course there have been warm days since then; it reached 80deg in the last week of September. But now we are in the upper 30s overnight, some sheltered areas have had their first frost, and the daytime highs are in the mid-50s. The temperature and the dew-point have dropped 15-20 degrees in a few weeks.

But the rewards of living in the north country are well known.  Glorious Fall colors! With an abundance of maples, beeches and sumac, we are treated to wonderful displays of yellow, gold and scarlet in the trees.DSC_0061  And there are misty mornings on the lakes! DSC_0060

The local farm stands are full of pumpkins, corn, garlic, tomatoes, zucchini and squashes. The winery is recruiting volunteers to pick grapes. We are enjoying “the best weeks of the year” around here, and we love our view across the lake.

A wedding in late September gave us another excuse to return to Long Island. It was like going to Florida – warm, humid, green, with people in shorts going to the beach! But we love to keep up with our NY friends. They excelled themselves once again; every day there was a lunch or dinner gathering, or both! Pot-lucks, dinners, lunches, the wedding reception, an afternoon at a local winery – after 5 days we were filled, happy and tired! DSC_0024 We visited a horse-rescue farm, and launched a balloon over LI Sound in memory of a dear friend. IMG_0025 - Version 2   We topped off the visit with a trip into Brooklyn to see our older son and his new apartment.

Now we sense that here, Fall will rapidly change into Winter. At church, our choir director was handing out Advent anthems! In a few weeks the lake will freeze and we will have our first snow. So the RV has been winterized, today the furnace will be cleaned, and deck furniture, canoes and kayak will be have to be stored before the storms blow in off the lake. Where summers are warm and winters cold, Fall is a time of rapid change!

Oh  yes, I am starting a part-time job later this week, and will be leaving home at 5:30am! I will need wool socks and long-johns very soon!





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.





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!